A film distributor that specializes in faith-based content has dropped a documentary by Joshua Harris after being blindsided by the author’s decision to abandon his Christian faith.
In the aftermath of Harris’ decision to leave his wife and his subsequent announcement that he is no longer a Christian, Exploration Films revealed it is cutting ties with the author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” a book Harris has since denounced, which was the subject of his documentary, “I Survived ‘I Kissed Dating Goodbye.’”
“Unfortunately, Josh did not tip off his film team partners of these surprising changes before his public post — nor how this would change our company’s distribution efforts of the film he had worked with us on to promote,” said Stephen Penn, a spokesperson for Exploration Films.
Penn went on to say the company wishes Harris “the best,” fully aware the author is “searching for answers.”
“But due to the lack of transparency from Josh,” he continued, “we have no other choice but to halt promotion of the film.”
In an email to Faithwire, Penn said Harris’ actions put Exploration Films “in an awkward position and hurt our efforts in distribution, since many of our partners and outlets were knowingly in the Christian community.”
“Discussions that are Christian in nature happen throughout the film, and the former pastor’s public statements on marriage — and especially Christianity — undermine key parts of the film,” he continued. “It puts our team in an awkward position to promote it.”
As a result, the film distribution company has received “hundreds” of returns following Harris’ surprising lifestyle changes. One unnamed Christian retailer, Penn explained, told him they “immediately started receiving complaints from customers, ministries, and pastors demanding that they remove Harris’ products from their shelves after the statements.”
Harris announced via Instagram in late July that he is “not a Christian” anymore.
“I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus,” he wrote. “The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”
That statement came on the heels of his revelation that he is divorcing his wife, though he assured his followers he and Shannon plan to “continue life together as friends.”
In fall 2018, Harris denounced his past writings. He said at the time he “no longer agree[s] with its central idea that dating should be avoided,” referring to “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” which was a very popular title in the evangelical community.
“I now think dating can be a healthy part of a person developing relationally and learning the qualities that matter most in a partner,” he said.
The former pastor has had the book pulled from future production.
As for the documentary, rights to the project have since been returned to lead filmmaker Jessica Van Der Wyngaard. The documentary features Harris listening to readers of his work reveal to him how “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” negatively impacted their lives.
But as a result of Harris’ misleading behavior, they no longer have a distributor.
“Integrity in business,” Penn said, “is something that is very important for us.”