Honk for Jesus: Religious Satire with Hints of Truth
Inspired by their experience in the Southern Baptist Church, director Adamma Ebo and her sister, producer, Adanne Ebo deliver an engaging critique of pastors, prosperity theology and mega-church culture in the documentary, “Honk for Jesus. save your soul”.
Honk for Jesus. Save your soul. is a satirical comedy starring Regina Hall as Trinitie Childs – the proud first lady of a Southern Baptist mega-church, who, along with her husband, Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown), has once served a congregation in the tens of thousands. But after a scandal forces their church to temporarily close, Trinitie and Lee-Curtis must reopen their church and rebuild their congregation to make the biggest comeback commodified religion has ever seen.
In an effort to restore their reputation and standing in church society, Lee-Curtis hires a documentary filmmaker to document the couple’s journey as they prepare to reopen the doors of their church on Easter Sunday. Brown’s Lee-Curtis is a larger-than-life mega-church pastor who brags about his material wealth with prosperity theology and sermons denouncing homosexuality. He finds himself embroiled in a controversy where he is accused of sexual misconduct with several young men from his church. Scandal shakes the church and parishioners leave en masse for a rival black church. The first lady, Trinitee, played beautifully by Hall, chooses to stand by her husband and help him reclaim the power and influence he once had.
At times, Lee-Curtis and Trinitee are a walking contradiction, quoting scripture and swearing at the same time. In “Honk for Jesus“, the audience is taken on a journey as they watch how far Lee-Curtis is willing to go to take back his church and his congregation. “Honk for Jesus is at times humorous and equally disturbing as it satirizes the inner workings of mega-church culture.
Lee-Curtis is all about “the look”, “the performance” and “the production” when it comes to his preaching style. Lost is the teaching of the gospel. Lee-Curtis is more than a pastor, he sees himself as an interpreter and biblical teachings become an afterthought as he stands in the pulpit. Sterling K. Brown portrays Lee-Curtis with bravado and a towering charisma similar to many megachurch pastors today. Lee-Curtis is a smooth talker who knows how to use the scriptures to capture his congregation and his pockets. He is used to the cameras and knows how to perform. With a bright smile and a nervous laugh at times, he knows exactly what to show on camera as the camera crew follows him.
In contrast, First Lady Trinitee mirrors many First Ladys. Trinitee is focused on making sure she looks like the first lady at all times. She is preoccupied with finding the perfect church hat and keeping it looking good to please her husband. Despite the scandal and her husband’s indiscretions, she chooses to stand by his side and support him as he attempts to repair his reputation. Beneath the fancy clothes, jewelry, and church hats, lies a deeply conflicted woman. She often puts her husband’s needs and wants ahead of her own. While she puts on a good face when the camera crew follows her, when the camera crew leaves, we are left with a woman humiliated by her husband’s scandal and grappling with the state of her marriage. and his happiness.
Regina Hall plays Trinity with compassion and empathy. In one of the film’s most revealing scenes, an intimate moment between Lee-Curtis and Trinitee exposes the cracks in their relationship and the audience gets a glimpse of the breakdown in their marriage. She quietly suffers and questions her faith, her marriage and her role as First Lady. Lee-Curtis is oblivious to his wife’s pain and inner conflict, often pushing her to more humiliating times in her attempt to rebuild her empire.
The Chicago Defender sat down with Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall to talk about “Honk for Jesus“, why they had to learn the rap song, “Knuck if you buck” and what they hope audiences take away from the film.
Mixed with moments of humor, drama and heartbreak, “Honk for Jesus” is religious satire but offers a critique of aspects of mega-church culture that compel audiences to ask questions about how we perceive mega-churches and the people who lead them. There are moments of powerful criticism about the church’s relationship with the LGBTQ+ community, the role of women in the church, and how prosperity theology has affected church effectiveness. Sterling K. Brown and Reginal Hall show the humanity of Lee-Curtis and Trinitee. They are both brilliantly funny and equally tragic.
“Honk for Jesus. Save your soulis currently in theaters now.