One of the significant cultural events of the summer of 2023 was that, as Disney movies like the newest Indiana Jones film flopped, “Sound of Freedom” exploded in popularity and dominated the box office and headlines. Released by Christian film company Angel Studios, “Sound of Freedom” is rooted in the Christian faith and exposes the massive extent of the evil human trafficking industry.
Now, a lawsuit has been filed against the Biden Administration and the Department of Defense over the cancelation of a military screening of “Sound of Freedom,” with the screening for military members in Central and South America appearing to have been canceled because of the Christian morality and values at the root of the movie’s message.
As background, originally SOUTHCOM spokesman Jose Ruiz told the Military Times, which was prodding the command on why it was screening the movie, that the “subject of the movie is something that’s of great concern to the command, in that it follows as part of its mission of countering transnational criminal organizations.” He added, “Because of the way these transnational criminal organizations exploit migrants — the hopes of migrants — in ways that end up being serious violations to their human rights, and unfortunately in some cases lead to the deaths of the migrants.”
However, after the Military Times disparagingly described the movie as “QAnon-embraced” and “Christian-faith-based,” the military reversed course and decided against screening it, announcing that the screening had been canceled.
Now, the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project has sued to compel the Biden administration and the Department of Defense to hand over all records concerning screenings of the film, with the lawsuit being a response to the Biden Administration and DOD’s refusal to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests for those documents.
In the lawsuit, the Heritage lawyers argue that the military had good reason to show the film given the mission of the troops in Central and South America, noting, “SOUTHCOM routinely works with partners in Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean to combat human trafficking and associated transnational criminal organizations, it has a vested interest in ensuring that its personnel are well-aware of issues surrounding human trafficking in the region. While this movie does not purport to be a definitive guide on such issues, it is highly relevant to SOUTHCOM’s operational mission.”
Then, explaining why their FOIA request is an important one and what they hope to learn by compelling production of the documents, the Heritage lawyers argue, “Plaintiffs’ FOIA request sought transparency on SOUTHCOM leadership’s reasoning to cancel the screenings. Plaintiffs seek to understand the basis for SOUTHCOM’s decision and to determine whether factors outside of the stated reasons played a role in the cancellation and subsequent refusal to reschedule the screening. The American people deserve to know whether this decision was motivated by political concerns or other factors apart from issues of copyright law and intellectual property.”
The lawsuit goes on to note that Heritage followed the proper FOIA request procedures but that the Biden Administration and DOD refused to comply or issue a legally colorable reason for refusal within the statutory deadline for doing so.
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