Christian thriller ‘Sound of Freedom’ faces criticism for stoking conspiracy theories

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Sound of Freedom is a surprise box office hit. But the Christian thriller is also fueling controversy over conspiracy theories and its depiction of human trafficking.

The film “Sound Of Freedom” is this summer’s surprise box office hit, raking in more than $85 million in ticket sales. As NPR’s Shannon Bond reports, the movie is being criticized as a vehicle for conspiracy theories.

SHANNON BOND, BYLINE: “Sound Of Freedom” is a thriller about a former federal agent rescuing children from exploitation.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Why are you doing it?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Singing) Sweet land of liberty.

JIM CAVIEZEL: (As Tim Ballard) ‘Cause God’s children are not for sale.

BOND: The film, based on a real-life controversial anti-trafficking activist, is being heavily promoted in conservative media. It caught the wider world’s eye when it earned almost as much money on its release day as the latest “Indiana Jones” movie. And a big part of its success is an appeal from its star, Jim Caviezel, who comes on screen at the end urging viewers to buy more tickets so other people can see it.

CAVIEZEL: Let’s make this film a historic event and the start to the end of child trafficking.

BOND: Caviezel is drawing attention to the film in other ways. For years, he’s been a prominent promoter of the false, violent QAnon conspiracy theory, specifically the claim that an international cabal of elites is abusing and killing children to extract a substance called adrenochrome. These wild claims have become deeply enmeshed with narratives about child trafficking, and Caviezel is pushing them on his press tour. Here’s a recent exchange with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon about what’s driving demand for children.

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