After starring in All Is Lost, a movie about how much God hates Robert Redford, the actor may soon play another man whom the Almighty had briefly forsaken—at least, until he could raise enough money. The Hollywood Reporter says Redford is in talks to play Oral Roberts, the Pentecostal televangelist who sought a life in the only place where no one would make jokes about his first name. Eventually, he became one of the most popular—and controversial—TV preachers in an era swarming with them.
Redford is being sought by director Jonathan Demme, whose Come Sunday aims to tell the tale, made famous by a This American Life episode, of Tulsa minister Carlton Pearson (played by Jeffrey Wright). After being moved by a TV program on the suffering in Rwanda, Pearson lost everything after sharing his epiphany that there is no Hell besides that which we make on Earth. Scandalized by the idea that a loving Christian God would create man without also making a lake of fire for him to burn in forever if he breaks one of his many rules, Pearson’s followers deserted him, and he was soon branded a heretic. He remains ostracized by many Christian fundamentalists, who see no room for the heretical philosophies of forgiveness and inclusion in the worship of Jesus.
Redford would play Roberts during the years when he served as mentor to Pearson, who attended Oral Roberts University. And because Redford has, in the past, expressed some wariness of organized religion, and because he supports liberal and environmentalist causes, his casting has already prompted enough “godless leftist” and “atheist scumbag” comments on The Hollywood Reporter site to suggest that Pearson’s theory of hell on Earth is probably correct.