NASHVILLE — America has not been this divided since the Vietnam War and the presidential election fallout has included a rift with his own brothers, said Christian actor Stephen Baldwin recently at Proclaim 18, the National Religious Broadcasters Convention.
Baldwin told Together LA during an interview inside his promotional RV parked on the exposition floor (complete with Ironman pinball machine) that he was at NRB to talk about his latest three projects.
When the actor was asked about whether he could be tagged as a journalist, considering he’s done quite a bit of radio in the past and the first season of the GAP, he explained:
“So, what I’ve done with the Great American Pilgrimage is I’ve come up with a new word. It’s called ‘journal-tainment.’ It’s basically journalism that is a little entertaining and it seems to be working.
“Let me clarify. I don’t want to try to pretend like all of a sudden I’m taking myself seriously as a journalist. I’m a communicator. My calling is to communicate the gospel. My additional calling is to do that in the way that God has called me to do. So, if you’re an actor that’s been in movies like the double-Academy award-winning The Usual Suspects, you would assume that if God’s going to use you in Christian media that you’ll use that knowledge, that wisdom, that experience, etc., etc.”
In the GAP show (16 episodes on the RT news network and YouTube), Baldwin and financial guru Max Keiser journey across the United States in a RV to “learn and examine what people believe, perceive and how they define living in America in the wake of its most controversial presidential election. They visit everyday Americans in search of finding a grassroots commonality that can bring even the most divided together.”
METAXAS MANO A MANO
Baldwin’s visit to NRB appeared to unveil even more journal-tainment possibilities. Popular Christian author, speaker, and talk show host Eric Metaxas teamed with him for a hilarious Facebook LIVE interview that had nearly 30,000 views in less than a week. More evidence that journal-tainment is a reality.
“I don’t even mean to sound nice or sound humble, but as a believer my wife says I have to be humble,” Baldwin said. “I’m just a guy that loves the Lord because he’s real and now I just want to have the right humility and the right servant’s heart to hear the Holy Spirit correctly to move in the direction God wants me to move.
“So, if I’m going to call myself anything, first, it’s either an evangelist or communicator of the gospel. So, what does that mean? Now, I’m trying to look at society and culture from perspectives” of knowing how he can really talk about the power of the gospel in ways that are relevant today, “but not in ways that we are seeing other Christians doing it. They’re missing it.”
He adds, “Hey listen, when sex trafficking is in the top five industries on the planet — satan is winning. We’re winning souls and all that other stuff, in the warfare, we’re advancing.
“I’m somebody that believes that part of my calling is to engage and empower and motivate believers to do more for the Kingdom — to aspire to a greater level of excellence.”
Baldwin said that the Great American Pilgrimage is an experiment that asks and perhaps answers, “‘Can Stephen Baldwin as the host, regardless of what opinions there are out there about him, can he go out to people who share his opinion and/or not and do a whole lot more listening?”
NOT SINCE VIETNAM
When asked by TLA about whether the show was really more about politics, he said, “No. It has political conversations, but the show itself is not pointed politically. Great American Pilgrimage is an experiment where after this past presidential election the division and the angst and the anger and the hatred and the protesting, which in my opinion we haven’t seen this since Vietnam. It’s that crazy in America again. It’s made me feel like how did we get here? What happened?
“In my observation it’s that if you’re a Republican or a conservative or a liberal and a progressive, whatever, everyone is so focused at yelling at the other side about how they’re wrong, nobody is willing to listen and learn about the other person before they [immediately] have whatever opinion or judgemental attitude or whatever it is.”
ELECTION SPLITS BALDWINS
The reality of a divided nation has hit close to home for Baldwin, specifically his brothers Alec and Billy.
“My brother Alec hasn’t talked to me since the election. Isn’t that silly? That over politics, two brothers will not communicate. I don’t know his wife. I don’t see their kids. Nothing. Because of politics. That’s silly to me, but that’s his choice. He has made that choice,” he said. He said he also recognizes that the battle between the brothers is spiritual. “I’m praying for him.”
When asked about his takeaway from the first season of the GAP he said that in the media “more and more people on both sides of this equation, whether you are a progressive or a conservative, both sides of that perception are actually agreeing that the divide is so wide and great now that if we don’t sit down and start to find ways to agree and come together, and help and be a blessing to one another, it’s going to get worse before it gets better. And maybe that’s what needs to happen.
“But the thing that I was most blown away with was the number of liberal Democrat media people that are coming up to me and saying, ‘I watched the show. I love the show and I think it’s actually cool because the conversation you’re trying to invoke really does need to happen.
“My instinct was correct. I wasn’t sure if people would like this but the sensitivity of it and the issue of it is so on point that it’s working,” he said.
He shared that the idea for Great American Pilgrimage was to create a piece of content that’s family friendly, entertaining and fun, that has serious conversations about serious topics but presented in a very light-hearted way.You can see that I’m doing things outside of the box. I believe the Lord has called me to do that. - Stephen Baldwin Click To Tweet
“In all of that, try to present this kind of foundational tone of do unto others or treat others as you would hope or wish to have them treat you,” he said. “You can see that I’m doing things outside of the box. I believe the Lord has called me to do that.”
Photos by Justin Dean.