Christian evangelist Ray Comfort — known for making short films tackling controversial subjects like abortion, evolution and Noah's ark — is working on a new project that is already drawing the ire of his critics.
Unlike his past documentaries, "Audacity," a scripted film, will tackle the ever-contentious issue of homosexuality, a subject Comfort had previously avoided.
"I didn’t want to do this movie. When different people kept asking for one that addressed homosexuality, I said an adamant ‘No!’ and I was deadly serious," he told TheBlaze Tuesday. "It just wasn’t going to happen. One of the major reasons for this was that to speak even slightly against homosexuality nowadays is tantamount to being a hate-filled racist."
But Comfort, whose crowdfunding campaign in support of the project raised more than $92,000 in just six days, said that God recently changed his mind and set him on a course of addressing the issue by using professional actors to tell an impactful story.
Screen shot from Ray Comfort's crowdfunding campaign for "Audacity"
He's hoping that viewers will walk away from the movie, which releases next year, with a true understanding of the gospel, specifically understanding and embracing the notion that believes do not and should not hate gays and lesbians.
"'Audacity' doesn’t stereotype or vilify gays in the slightest," Comfort said. "This movie isn’t motivated by an ounce of hatred. It’s just the opposite. We love gay people, and that's what we believe will be the conclusion of most who see it."
The central plot will surround a character named Peter — a bike messenger who is "on the brink of losing his job." Peter, a Christian, struggles to find himself in a culture that rejects the Bible and is faced with trying to discover truth and convey it to his friends in a loving way.
"He’s forced into a clash between his most cherished convictions and a most volatile issue," Comfort said.
Though it is scripted, there is one scene in the film that includes an interview between Comfort and two lesbians — an exchange that ends on a positive note, he told TheBlaze.
"There is a reality clip woven into the storyline of the movie where I interview two lesbians after I saw them kissing in Huntington Beach, California," Comfort said. "At the conclusion of the interview they enthusiastically said on-camera that they really appreciated how I had spoken with them."
While Comfort said he'd love to see the film make its way into theaters, he believes it will be "too hot" for them to handle, predicting protests and boycotts. So, his team plans to release it to the public in March or April of 2015 as an online download instead.
In May, a free premiere will subsequently be scheduled in 1,000 churches around the globe, then it will later be released on YouTube and DVD.
Comfort expects critics to react harshly, especially considering the contentious nature of the ongoing theological and political debate surrounding homosexuality.
"When we produced [pro-life film] '180' they said we hated women. When 'Evolution Vs. God' came out, we hated science. Neither accusations were true," he told TheBlaze. "We are now in post-production of a movie that shows how much we love gay people, and they are already saying that I hate gays."
He continued, "These critics hate any thought of God, and they think that if they can vilify me they can vilify the message — when they just confirm it with their hatred."
Comfort said he's already seeing reaction, with someone creating a Facebook profile called "Ray hates Gays" and with critics speaking out against "Audacity."
As a result of the reaction, he said his team is continuing to monitor the situation to ensure he isn't banned for "so-called 'hate speech'" on the social media platform.
The evangelist is hoping to raise $175,000 to cover the film's budget.