On April 17, Mormon sociologist Armand Mauss and his wife, Ruth, drove an hour and a half to see Richard Dutcher’s film, “States of Grace,” which tells the story of two LDS missionaries and their transforming involvement with people of different faiths.
When Mauss asked for two tickets to the film, the young woman behind the window at the Horton Plaza Theater asked if they were Christians.
“I said yes, but why does that matter?” Mauss recounted Thursday.
The ticket-seller said this was really a Mormon movie, not a Christian one. She said, “We have to do that because people have been complaining that they’ve been induced to see the movie on false premises.”
After speaking to the manager, who reiterated that concern, Mauss was incensed. He called Dutcher to alert him that this was going on.
“For me, it’s about more than ticket sales,” Dutcher said this week. “It’s about the recurring accusation that we’re not Christian and that troubles me.”
Traditional Christians argue that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cannot be classified as Christian because it doesn’t follow the ancient creeds, has scriptures beyond the Bible, and has a different understanding of God and Jesus Christ. Mormons counter that they are Christians because Jesus Christ is at the center of their faith.
Regal Entertainment Group spokesman Russ Nunley said his company regretted the comments made by the box office employee about Dutcher’s film. “We don’t think it’s appropriate to categorize any film to be relevant to one group and not relevant to another group,” he said from the corporate office in Knoxville, Tenn. “We have taken action to make sure such comments aren’t made again.”
He said it was an isolated incident in San Diego, pointing to the fact that the film is playing in five Regal theaters across the country.
Several LDS filmmakers from Utah planned to protest outside the theater Wednesday, but Dutcher asked them not to, so the protest was called off.