What Did I Just Watch? 11 Reasons Why "Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul." Was Nothing Like I Expected

·6 min read

Warning: this post contains discussion of scandals that are sexual in nature.

Now showing in theaters and available for streaming on Peacock, Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. is a satirical film that explores the complex nuances of Black megachurch culture. Although this film does not represent every Black megachurch that exists, it does tackle some truths in a loud manner that left people feeling multiple ways ranging from angry to disappointed, to embarrassed or awakened.

Wherever you fall in that range, or if you care at all, I don’t see this film as a simple exposition of the negative things that can happen in church. Conversely, the film serves as a satirical dissertation we never asked for but got anyway.

Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall attend a special Atlanta screening of HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL.

Here are the 11 reasons why "Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul." took me on a wild ride.

Paras Griffin / Getty Images for Focus Features

1.There was an original.

2.Art often imitates life.

Sisters standing and smiling

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. took the core of its story from a real-life 2010-2011 scandal a prominent Atlanta-based pastor faced. From the size of the church to the details of the lawsuits and accusations, Adamma Ebo pulled from the headlines that had the church world (and those adjacent to it) swirling with conflicting thoughts, opinions, and decisions.

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3.There was a bigger picture.

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If you know about the scandal the movie revolves around, then you understand some of the cringe moments and dark humor. However, I don’t think the film was made to focus solely on the previous real-life scandal but to have a more meaningful conversation around the complexity of the inability to handle specific platforms without clear boundaries, self-acceptance, and discipline.

4.To whom much is given, much is required.

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Duality is a thing, and this movie lays that out for us. (1) People in any leadership position are often held to a higher standard of morality than others. (2) People who happen to be leaders in faith communities are human like everyone else. Neither of these two truths gives anyone a “hall pass” to be corrupt. However, it should allow us to pause and emphasize a person’s humanity and the societal pressures that do not always allow a person just to be.

5.A lot of church folks are mad, and that’s their right.

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Growing up in the church, I have encountered many different people with various perspectives on faith practices. And one thing that will always exist is those who take it as their personal responsibility to stand in the divine defense against whatever comes to critique the church as an institution. It’s interesting how examinations of church culture are only taboo when it comes from those who are “seemingly” outside of it. I get it to an extent — it’s hard to critique something from the outside. However, no institution is above critique, and it becomes hard to avoid specifically when situations become public knowledge.

6.Seats have power.

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Status is a hell of a drug. In my opinion, every leader needs a therapist and genuine people committed to seeing them be the best version of themselves. Having these things in place can help a person avoid certain pitfalls and deal with trauma and inward battles that, if left alone, can become hindrances to their leadership. People in power without boundaries, structure, or accountability tend to use their power in ways that are entirely self-serving and manipulative. Pastor Lee-Curtis was an example of this phenomenon.

7.Proximity and relationship to power can be dangerous, too.

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Let’s pause and honor the gift that is Regina Hall. Her development as an actor, comedic timing, and overall talent doesn’t get praised enough. All that and more were displayed as she portrayed First Lady Trinitie Childs. Throughout the film, we see her battle with making the right choice to stay and support her husband through this ordeal. It’s not clear if her love for him or the status she earned over the years motivated her decision to stay. What is clear is that she made a choice to stay, and a part of that was the coziness of the lifestyle the church had provided.

8.Choices, man. Choices.

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Speaking of choices, that is a pervasive theme throughout the film. Everyone was making a choice, from the fictional production crew recording in ABC’s Abbott Elementary style to the supporting cast’s actions due to the scandal. Some decided to stay, many chose to leave, and others questioned it. Life gives us the freedom to choose. And while people may not always agree with our choices, they are ours to make, and the consequences that follow (good, bad, or indifferent) await us all.

9.Are comebacks always the right choice?

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It’s a question that I am sure many people wrestle with. Even as kids, we are taught to try again if we fail at something. But, at what point do we stop, recalibrate, and do something totally different? Starting over can be healing. Starting fresh has the benefits of doing it right (whatever that means in context for you). Beginning with a new set of circumstances can be the refresh needed. I am not saying picking back up where you left off is a wrong choice, but sometimes, it probably isn’t the most ideal. Pastor Lee-Curtis wanted to go on like nothing ever happened. In fact, he kept saying, “It’s in the past.” The sad thing is, people’s minds don’t work like that.

10.Triggers and trigger warnings.

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Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. hit home for a lot of people. Those who lived through the scandal the story was based on had to relive the trauma of that situation. Then, some have similar stories to the victims represented in the film. Beyond those two categories, all the people somehow saw themselves or someone they knew represented throughout the film. Let’s restate an earlier point — art often imitates life. And that means the media will depict the ugly things of culture. The church, especially in Christianity, often gets a bad rap and, in some cases, for valid reasons. So, while this film was the most good, bad, annoying, cringing, funny, and thought-provoking movie released in a long time — it deals with the real. That’s the part that sucks the most — this stuff really happens.

11.More good than bad.

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I just want to make a personal point that I believe there is far more good going on in the world than bad. While no institution or person is perfect, groups of people are committed to trying their best every day. Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. did what it was supposed to do in terms of providing space for discussion and reflection, but it is not a monolithic depiction of the Black church.

Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts?