'Persecuted' Not Just a Movie But a Movement

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A member of Congress frames a nationally known evangelist for murder because he tries to block sweeping reform. That's the plot for a new political thriller, "Persecuted," coming to theaters this spring.

Most have heard the expression 'art imitating life' and this films seems to be no exception. Director Daniel Lusko told CBN News that the frightening scenario is not as farfetched as you might think.

CBN News Anchor Wendy Griffith, who plays a legal expert in the film, recently sat down with Lusko and actor Brad Stine to talk about the new movie.

Griffith:  Daniel, what inspired you to write "Persecuted?"

Lusko: The Holy Spirit inspired me to write "Persecuted" - I woke up one morning, and it was there. The government is trying to take control of everything, including the very source that gave our country its foundation, which is Biblical truth.

Veteran actor James Remar plays lead character, Evangelist John Luther. We met on location while filming in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Griffith: Tell me about John Luther.

Lusko: John Luther is the hero of our story. And he becomes a major evangelist at the level of a Billy Graham, at a time when America becomes an unwelcoming environment for the Gospel. And he's discredited.  He is tarnished. He is taken away from his family, and his ministry, for doing so. And eventually, has to go on the run as a fugitive to prove the truth.

Stine plays Luther's right hand man, Ryan Morris.

Griffith: Is your character a good guy or a bad guy?

Stine: I'm really not at liberty to give you that kind of information. And I'm surprised, and shocked that you would ask such a probing question. I thought this was a Christian network, for crying out loud.

Stine: You are a good reporter. You know, I don't know, I think what makes Ryan Morris so interesting is that, um, is that a lot of human beings consider themselves good...... And he is sort of, um, wooed and manipulated by a senator, to say, "Perhaps you need to step in and take over for this failed ministry." So I think his ambition is, you know, is legitimate...... So think you won't really know if he's good or bad; it will kind of be what the audience decides.

FOX News anchor Gretchen Carlson and I both have roles in "Persecuted." She plays the news anchor who questions John Luther's motives. I play a legal expert who talks about Luther's checkered past.

I asked Daniel if the plot was more of a fantasy or if he could actually envision such a scenario happening in America?

Lusko: It really is beginning, because we allow ourself to be silenced, in the name of political correctness. In fact, a very close friend, who is highly involved in levels of government, looked at the story and he said, "This scenario of religious reform is happening; at the United Nations there is a bill that is exactly what you're talking about."
 
Griffith: Daniel, why is "Persecuted" not your typical Christian film?

Lusko: Well, we have an all-star cast in the film of "Persecuted," and I think it's because we have an all-star story, that has come in sync with, with the pulse that is happening across our country, and I think people are picking up on that, regardless of what political view you come from.
 
Griffith: Brad, what do you hope people are going to take away from this movie?

Lusko: The seats. We want them to take the seats from the theater because nobody will expect that. [Wendy laughs] They'll come back in, there's no seats, "What happened?" There'll be a big national exposure:  Christians stealing theater seats. Get us tons of publicity, we'll bring them back, but this time we will have anointed them and laid hands so they're even holy seats...so it's going to be a compelling spiritual journey that nobody saw coming!

Persecuted opens in theaters nationwide Friday, July 18. Also look out for Persecuted the novel where books are sold. And you can follow "Persecuted" on Facebook.

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Wendy Griffith

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Wendy Griffith is a Co-host for the The 700 Club and an Anchor and Senior Reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In addition to The 700 Club, she co-anchors Christian World News, a weekly show that focuses on the triumphs and challenges of the global church. Follow Wendy on Twitter @WendygCBN and "like" her at Facebook.com/WendyGriffithCBN.