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Film / Persecuted

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Persecuted is a 2014 religious/political thriller directed by Daniel Lusko.

John Luther (James Remar) is a popular evangelist with a dark past. He is approached by Senator Donald Harrison (Bruce Davison), who wants him to endorse The Faith and Fairness Act, a vaguely defined religious bill that will give all religions equal status (or something like that). When Luther refuses, Harrison starts a plan to discredit Luther and leave his ministry under new management. He has a hitman, Mr. Gray, knock Luther out, kill a runaway girl and frame Luther for her rape and murder, forcing Luther to go on the run in an attempt to clear his name with help from his father (Fred Thompson).



  • Affably Evil: While Senator Harrison frames an innocent man for murder, he is very polite and even friendly throughout most of the movie.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The film ends just as Luther is about to talk at a press conference and leaves it unclear whether or not he will speak up for his beliefs or play suit with the conspirators.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Not unexpectedly, Luther quotes the Bible more than once. Before he knocks out Senator Harrison, he turns 1 Samuel 24:4 into a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner.
  • Author Tract: The film is basically one long "Christians are persecuted in America" sermon.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Luther has cleared his name, the senator has been killed, as has Mr. Gray and many of their operatives. However, the man on top of the conspiracy, the President, is free and above suspicion. Finally, the ending implies that he may still not be safe to speak without fear of another attack on him.
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  • Boom, Headshot!: The death of Charles Luther.
  • The Cameo: Fox News' own Gretchen Carlson appears in a couple of scenes as a news anchor.
  • Caught on Tape: Luckily for Luther, the murder of the runaway he was framed for was caught on tape by some random people who just happened to be out filming random stuff that night. Unfortunately, the footage is stolen by the Senator's men.
  • Clear My Name
  • Coincidental Broadcast: When Luther tries to get a room at a motel, the girl behind the register recognizes him from a news broadcast on a TV behind him.
  • Corrupt Cop: Mr. Gray turns out to be an agent of the Secret Service.
  • The Corrupter: Senator Harrison convinces Ryan Morris to take the lead of the ministry in Luther's absence and then uses him to persuade the church board to follow the Senator's agenda.
  • Creator Cameo: The President is played by James R. Higgins, a Tulsa cardiologist and one of the film's producers.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Luther is said to be a reformed abusive alcoholic and gambling drug addict.
  • Disposable Vagrant: The runaway/sex worker whose murder Luther is framed for.
  • The Dragon: Mr. Gray to Senator Harrison.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Luther tricks Senator Harrison into admitting his part in the conspiracy while he secretly records it.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The President, good manners and Southern drawl aside, is rarely heard not speaking in veiled threats, especially to Senator Harrison.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Ryan Morris. He is chatty and gets irritated looks from most people, but becomes Luther's successor in the ministry after Luther becomes hunted.
  • The Heavy: Even though the Senator is in charge of the conspiracy, Mr. Gray is the one who does almost all of the real damage to Luther in the movie, including framing him for murder.
  • Hollywood Law: As Hannah and Jake of The Bible Reloaded pointed out in their review, the Faith and Fairness Act (as far as they understood it, anyway) is hopelessly unconstitutional and would never get passed into law, or, assuming it somehow did, ever stand up in court.
  • In the Hood: When out in the open, Luther wears a black hooded jacket.
  • It's All About Me: The film seems to treat as if this Bill passes only Christianity would be affected, rather than every religion.
  • Logical Fallacy: The film tries to treat Christianity as an oppressed minority, where at the same time the Senator wants the church to endorse the bill because he states it would reach more people than the news. Therefore showing that Christianity has a lot of power.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Guess who's ordering Senator Harrison around? The President of the United States himself.
  • Monochrome Casting: Pretty much every single major or supporting character is white.
  • Mook Lieutenant: Mr. Gray has a bunch of other operatives working for him.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: John Luther seems to have been named after Martin Luther, who similarly taught salvation through grace alone (now the common Protestant position), as well as John Calvin, the other major figure of the Reformation, known for his support of predestination (more contentious).
  • Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy: One that goes up all the way to the White House, apparently.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Luther tries to check into a motel - with nothing but a pair of sunglasses for a disguise. It doesn't work.
  • Police Are Useless: Most honest law enforcement officers seen in the film, such as the FBI agents that appear later, do nothing to aid or hinder Luther. Not only is he able to run around out in the open (and even go swimming at a public pool) when there supposedly is a massive manhunt for him, the few honest FBI agents are either killed or, in the case of one, taken hostage and have to be saved by Luther.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Pastor Ryan Morris, Luther's assistant in the ministry.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Luther has a moment of this when finding his father dead.
    "Are you not true to your name?!"
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Luther delivers one to the board of his ministry for siding with Senator Harrison.
  • Rule of Symbolism: When the church board meets after Luther goes on the run, they have a big golden calf statue in the center of the desk (and the frame). The filmmakers weren't aiming for subtlety...
  • Shower of Angst: Luther washing the victim's blood off of himself before going on the run.
  • Southern Gentleman: The President, who speaks with a Clinton-esque Southern accent.
  • Strawman Political: The movie portrays anyone who doesn't profess Christianity as the only valid religion and/or won't promote it as such as greedy and corrupt and, according to Charles Luther, "believe in nothing". As Right Wing Watch put it:
    "The enemies of religious liberty are those who use the language of fairness and equality and those who say America is not a Christian nation. Religious pluralism is portrayed not as a matter of respecting freedom for every faith tradition, but as a deceptive, coercive tool of government to erase religious difference and put all faiths under the politically correct thumb of government. Other religious leaders are either co-conspirators or complicit sheep."
  • Waving Signs Around: The opening shows a protest related to religious freedom.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Senator Harrison wants the bill passed, supposedly, to monitor potential terrorists. It's unclear just how this was meant to function.