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Is Pirates of the Caribbean Christian?!
by Scott Nehring - first appeared in Movies & Culture Report, Mid-June 2011

This is why I get irritated with so many online film critics.

Nate of recommends Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides because “Blackbeard’s ship contained a Christian missionary who actually lived his faith.”  Ack!  Wrong!

(* spoiler warning *)  There is a Christian missionary on the ship who espouses Christian ideals. The problem is he chucks it all away for a damp mermaid. Not quite Christian is it—that inter-species dating thing?

If I hear another Christian try to pry biblical meaning out of the Pirates of the Caribbean series, I’ll scream.  Just because you’re a Christian and you like something doesn’t mean you have to pretend it’s more wholesome than it really is.

Listen to me: there’s nothing Christian about these films. They’re all fronted by a lying, stealing, drunkard pirate who jokes about murdering and raping. If that doesn’t make you ponder the (lack of) biblical values of these films, how does this suit you:
Here is the official poster for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.  See, we have Captain Jack Sparrow looking cool.

But wait. What’s that hanging to the left of his beard?  Let’s take a closer look…

It’s the Islamic Star and Crescent. Now why is that there?

Wait a minute.  It’s on all the posters for the movie.

Sharp viewers may remember that Sparrow claims to carry multiple symbols to cover himself ‘just in case.’ One problem: that was in an earlier movie.  Let’s take a look at the old Pirates of the Caribbean logo, back when it was narratively relevant to have such a symbol, and compare it to the symbol for On Stranger Tides.

Even if Sparrow’s claim to carry multiple symbols to cover any eventuality is truly part of who he is, where is the cross or the Star of David? The ankh or the Lotus?  Why use just that one?

Perhaps it’s a result of some simple history. You see, Jack Sparrow is loosely (very loosely) based on an English pirate named John Ward who was also known as Yusuf Reis because he was a Muslim. Ward/Reis was a Barbary Pirate in the early 17th Century.

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t explain why the filmmakers would insert the symbol into On Stranger Tides, especially since the longer Depp portrays the character, the less resemblance he bears to any obscure historical figure. It also doesn’t explain why Sparrow doesn’t sport the symbol in any of the previous movies.

Remember, the image on the poster is not accidental any more than Depp’s mascara is. It’s there for a reason.

I don’t know about you, but this raises a huge red flag for me, particularly when such a production can have a lasting impact on my children.