Thursday, February 22, 2007

No Mandatory HPV Vaccines for Girls

By Andrea Lafferty, Executive Director
Traditional Values Coalition

Merck, the giant drug company, has come under fire in recent weeks over its lobbying efforts to have their drug, Gardasil, forced upon public school girls throughout the nation. Traditional Values Coalition is calling upon the Department of Justice to investigate the behind-the-scenes scheming that Merck has done to influence the votes of state legislators to push mandates of this drug on girls. If this isn’t the sort of activity which interstate commerce regulation and federal racketeering statutes were designed to prohibit -- what is?

The public outcry has gotten so loud that Merck announced on February 20 (2007) that it would stop its lobbying campaign to persuade state legislatures to mandate this HPV vaccine for all girls as young as nine years old. It was doing much of its lobbying through an organization called Women in Government.

This decision to stop lobbying for mandating this vaccine is clearly intended to put off any possible investigation of the company or the drug itself. TVC wants to know how many politicians were influenced by political contributions by Merck. How much money has Merck dropped into the political campaigns of politicians – both Republican and Democrat – in order to buy favor in state legislatures. Clearly, having a drug mandated for grade school girls is a gold mine for Merck, who will reap billions in profits each year.

Merck’s lobbying turnaround is suspect – and should not be considered a victory. Legislation on forced mandates are still being considered in at least 20 states where Merck has already gotten a foothold. The National Conference of State Legislatures has a detailed report on the progress of legislation in states to mandate the vaccine for grade school girls.

The fact is that the American public is poorly educated about HPV and its relationship to cervical cancer. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, Women’s Health Policy Facts, “In the U.S. cervical cancer is relatively rare, but there are nearly 10,000 cases and 3,700 deaths from cervical cancer annually.” Moreover, according to the CDC, HPV infects approximately 20 million people in the U.S. with 6.2 million new cases each year. (Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, HPV Vaccine report, February 20, 2007)

The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation is on target when it says that cervical cancer in the U.S. is relatively rare with only 10,000 cases annually out of a potential population of 20 million who are infected with HPV already.

U.S. Epidemic That Isn’t

According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, there are an average of 3,700 women in the U.S. each year who die from cervical cancer. Women in developing countries “account for about 85% of both the yearly cases of cervical cancer (estimated at 493,000 cases worldwide) and the yearly deaths from cervical cancer (estimated at 273,500 deaths worldwide).

While these 3,700 deaths are a tragedy, this is not a national health crisis nor does it require that states like Texas should rush to mandate an HPV vaccine upon girls. Mandatory vaccines should only be required when outbreaks of polio, tuberculosis or other easily transmitted diseases may threaten a school or community.

HPV is contracted through sexual contact and is not contagious. Therefore, almost all cases of HPV could be prevented through responsible sexual behavior, including fidelity in marriage and abstinence outside of marriage.

The mandating of a vaccine such as Gardasil sets a dangerous precedent. What other drugs will be mandated for our children in public schools? And, who must pay for them? Who will be criminally liable if a girl becomes disabled or dies from a mandated drug?

Expensive Drug – And Boosters Needed

Gardasil requires a series of three shots spaced out over several weeks. The cost is $360 for these shots and taxpayers will be forced to pay for them. This is the most expensive vaccine in history. It is nine times more expensive than a measles vaccine. Current evidence indicates that the shots only last 5 years, so booster shots will be required as well. Since Gardasil only protects against the strains of HPV accountable for 70% of cervical cancer cases, will governments then mandate a second drug to cover the other 30%? What other drugs will be mandated for our children under the guise of fighting “cancer”? Will there be mandates for birth control pills for girls?

Merck Wins Big In Texas

One of the most significant victories achieved by Merck was the announcement by Texas Governor Rick Perry that he was ordering the vaccination of all girls in public schools beginning with 6th graders!

This HPV vaccine is designed to provide protection against four of more than one hundred strains of a sexually-transmitted disease known as the human papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer. The four strains protected by Gardasil are found in 70% of the cases of cervical cancer.

Medical doctors are deeply concerned about the mandating of this new drug on pre-teen children.

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons has issued a statement opposing the forced vaccinations of grade school girls. In a letter to Governor Rick Perry, the AAPS stated: “This vaccine mandate violates parental rights, informed consent and privacy; the efficacy and safety of this specific vaccine are unproven; it is an unjustified expansion of the taxpayer’s burden; it constitutes an unwarranted overreaching of executive power; and it violates sunshine-in-government.”

The AAPS notes that clinical trials were conducted on fewer than 2,000 of the target population of girls aged 9 to 15! “The studies were far too short to demonstrate that the vaccine prevents the HPV transforming into cancer. Further, since the duration of the protection is estimated at 5 to 7 years, it would wane about the time that some of these girls are becoming sexually active,” says the AAPS.

The Texas Medical Association (TMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are both opposed to the forced vaccination of pre-teen girls.

The TMA says that Governor Perry’s mandate of HPV vaccines is premature and must be carefully investigated before moving ahead. “There are issues, such as liability and cost, that need to be vetted first,” said Dr. Bill Hinchley, a San Antonio pathologist and president-elect of the TMA. Hinchley also notes that there are unknown long-term or rare adverse side effects from the HPV vaccine.

The AAP detailed its opposition to mandating of the HPV virus in early February. Dr. Joseph Bocchini, AAP’s infectious-disease chairman notes: “Much of the public doesn’t know about HPV and its link to cervical cancer and other diseases. You can’t put a mandate ahead of that.”

The AAP notes that school vaccines evolved to protect pupils against outbreaks of contagious diseases, not to compel immunization. (Currently, 20 states are considering pushing for mandated HPV vaccines for children.)

Merck’s Political Strategy And Gov. Perry’s Merck Connection

If Merck can get every state to mandate its vaccine, it could make as much as $4 billion a year with more girls coming into the sixth grade each year. One wonders what influences were involved in Gov. Perry’s decision to mandate this drug for school girls. Merck hired Mike Toomey, Perry’s former chief of staff for $250,000 a year. In addition, Women in Government (WIG), which has received Merck funding, has hired Dianne White Delisi to run one its state chapters. Delisi is the mother-in-law of Gov. Perry’s current chief of staff Deirdre Delisi. (Associated Press story, 2/2/2007) Perry also received $6,000 from Merck during his re-election campaign in 2006.

Women in Government (WIG) lists its supporters on its web site. Of the 81 companies listed, more than half are pharmaceutical and health-related organizations. WIG is lobbying in numerous states for the mandating of Gardasil. Women in Government also receives support from GlaxoSmithKline, which is developing another HPV vaccine. The Glaxo vaccine should be on the market by spring or summer of this year.

It would appear that Merck is trying to get a monopoly hold on vaccine mandates for girls before Glaxo can get its drug on the market. Are preteen girls to be the sacrificial lambs in a war over two powerful drug companies who are fighting for a monopoly in the public schools? It seems likely.

Merck has also contributed to the political campaigns of pro-vaccine mandate legislators in Virginia. Delegate Phil Hamilton (R-Newport News), for example, received a $1,000 donation from Merck just weeks before he introduced a bill requiring mandated Gardasil vaccines for school children. Hamilton has received more than $10,000 from Merck in the past decade, according to a report in the Virginian-Pilot (2/15/2007).

Senator Janet Howell (D-Fairfax) offered a companion bill in the state Senate. She had received a $500 donation from Merck just 60 days before introducing her bill. Merck has given Howell $3,500 in the past decade.

According to the Virginian-Pilot, Merck has given more than a million dollars to politicians around the country in the past two election cycles. Virginia politicians received $13,000 last year.

Texas State Legislature To Block Perry’s Mandatory HPV Vaccine

As this report was being completed, it was learned that Texas state Representative Dennis Bonnen is offering H.R. 1098 to block Governor Perry from implementing his executive order on mandatory HPV vaccinations. ... H.R. 1098 will protect the rights of parents to be the sole decision-makers when it comes to Gardasil or any other similar vaccine!

Minority Children As Guinea Pigs

Star Parker is founder of the Coalition on Urban Renewal & Education (CURE), an organization founded to provide resources for African Americans on issues of race, poverty and social policy. In a recent column published by WorldNetDaily, Parker expressed outrage about Gardasil and its forced mandate upon girls. Her concern is that Merck is going to specifically target low-income minority girls for this drug by having state and local governments pay it through the welfare system.

As Parker notes: “The main risks that these girls from low-income families face stem from their promiscuity. Blacks account for 50% of new AIDS cases, and are 18 times more likely to contract a sexually transmitted disease than whites, and are regularly at risk of death through homicides, suicides and accidents that plague these communities. Blacks are twice as likely to die before the age of 20 as whites.

She continues: “It is the collapse of family and values and the attendant sexual promiscuity that drives the deadly poverty cycle in these communities. So mandating Gardasil vaccine for these girls is to validate a lifestyle that is already killing them in order to address a risk that is among the least of their problems.”

Georgia Congressman Proposes Federal Money Ban For Mandated Vaccines

U.S. Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA) is a medical doctor who is proposing legislation to prohibit federal funding from being used to mandate the HPV vaccine for children. Gingrey’s “Parental Right To Decide Protection Act” “prohibits federal funds from being used to implement mandatory state human papillomarvirus (HPV) vaccination programs.”

According to Gingrey, “As an OB-GYN physician, I understand the importance of protecting Americans from sexually transmitted diseases, and I applaud the development of an HPV vaccine. But for states to mandate vaccination for young women is both unprecedented and unacceptable.”

Rep. Gingrey continues: “States should require vaccinations for communicable diseases, like measles and mumps. But you can’t catch HPV if an infected schoolmate coughs on you or shares your juice box at lunch. Whether or not girls get vaccinated against HPV is a decision for parents and physicians, not state governments.”

The American College of Pediatricians agrees with Dr. Gingrey’s assessment of Gardasil. In a letter sent to the California state legislature on January 25, 2007, this professional group stated that requiring a vaccination for a disease spread by sexual contact is a “serious, precedent-setting action that trespasses on the right of parents to make medical decisions for their children as well as on the rights of the children to attend school.”

Mandated Vaccines: A Bad Idea

In conclusion, it is clear from the lack of long-term research and dangerous side effects of Gardasil that this drug should not be mandated for school girls.

HPV is not a communicable disease; it is a disease resulting from intimate sexual contact. All vaccines should be voluntary unless there is a clear and present danger to the public health from a communicable disease such as Polio or Tuberculosis. Mandating a vaccine for a sexually-transmitted disease sets a bad precedent that could be used to mandate condoms for boys and girls and birth control pills for girls on school campuses. Such mandates would be a financial boon to the manufacturers of drugs and condoms for sex, but will undermine parental rights and encourage girls and boys to believe they are immune from the effects of premarital sexual activities.

Governor Perry’s mandate is wrong, immoral and bad medicine for Texas children. The effort of Merck to monopolize the vaccination of millions of girls in public schools is an example of the dangers of out-of-control greed in the marketplace.

Merck has backed off from its efforts to have this vaccine mandated – but the effort is already far down the road in many state legislatures. If only 20 states end up mandating this drug, Merck will still reap billions of dollars.

The U.S. Department of Justice should look at the behind-the-scenes scheming of Merck to influence politicians who will then push for vaccine mandates, putting billions into Merck’s pocket. In addition, the U.S. Attorney General and the Attorneys General of the 20 states where mandatory use of the HPV is being considered need to take a long hard look at Merck’s role and the role of Women in Government.

Dr. Clayton Young has written an important letter about Gardasil to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that deserves reprinting in full:

OBGYN Questions HPV Vaccine Gardasil

Editorial Office
Obstetrics and Gynecology
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
409 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20024-2188

I am writing in response to the recent Committee Opinion 344 Published in the September issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. I have several concerns regarding Gardasil.

First, the Gardasil’s product insert states their endpoint is the prevention of "High Grade Disease", this encompasses CIN II-III and adenocarcinoma in situ (AIS) which are "immediate and necessary precursors" for squamous cell and adenocarcinoma of the cervix.1 The MAXIMUM median follow up in any of their studies is FOUR years.

However, the time course from CIN III to invasive cancer averages between 8.1 to 12.6 years.2 Claiming this vaccine prevents cervical cancer, with the longest median study subject being 4 years, is inappropriate.

The vaccine only "protects" against 4 high risk HPV subtypes. We are currently screening for 15 "high risk" HPV subtypes. This may lead to an increase in infection with other and possibly more aggressive subtypes.

According to ACOG, “The vast majority of women clear or suppress HPV to levels not associated with CIN II or III and for most women this occurs promptly. The duration of HPV positivity (which is directly related to the likelihood of developing a high grade lesion or cervical cancer) is shorter, and the likelihood of clearance is higher, in younger women.”3 Seventy percent of women clear the virus spontaneously after 18 months and 90 % clear the virus after 2 years.4 Vaccinating children against HPV with a vaccine that is of unknown duration of efficacy may only postpone their exposure to an age which they are less likely clear the infection on their own and be subject to more severe disease, including the cervical cancer which the vaccine is supposedly preventing. This would require an unknown number of boosters and is a setup for complacency in the older population that is a recipe for disaster.

The likelihood for regression to a normal pap from CIN II with expectant management is 40%.5 This beats Gardasil’s reduction of CIN II-III of only 39% in the “general population impact group” which is where most people would currently fall.6 This includes “all subjects who received at least one vaccination (regardless of baseline HPV status at Day 1.”7 Since ACOG does not currently recommend serologic testing for HPV before vaccination this will be the endpoint
from here out. In this case, "first do no harm” rules.

The study of the vaccine in children and adolescents is limited to only measuring the development of antibodies to the HPV subtypes in the vaccine. There is absolutely no evidence that the vaccine prevents anything when administered at this young age. Merck expects you to extrapolate their adult data to the immune response in children. If they were really interested in
vaccine efficacy in children, should it not be studied properly in children? Vaccinating children for this or any other sexually transmitted infection is not without risk. There are over 30,000 immunization reactions reported to the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) annually 8, and it has been estimated that only 10% or less of vaccine reactions are reported.9 In light of these facts the integrity of the post marketing surveillance of vaccines is questionable. Currently no vaccine has ever been examined for possible carcinogenic, mutagenic, or teratogenic effects, and yet the pharmaceutical industry stands ready to add Gardasil to the list of vaccines mandated for school admission.

Currently, precancerous lesions are readily identifiable and treatable in the developed world. Cervical cancer causes approximately one percent of all cancer deaths in America. The utility of this vaccine may be in third world countries in which regular screening is not available and cervical cancer is still a major cause of morbidity and mortality. The Committee Opinion states that there continues to be a significant population of women not receiving adequate screening. If you estimate the cost of the series at $360.00 (the most expensive vaccine on the market) administered to all adolescent girls and use that money to expand and enhance screening, I believe the results might be quite impressive. To invest that amount of healthcare dollars in an immunization with no long term efficacy or safety data is unwise.

I have personally witnessed the devastation caused by severe vaccine reaction, including patients, their children, nurses and my own family. To proceed with mass vaccination against this embellished "threat" is premature.

Clayton Young, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.

1. Prescribing information for GARDASIL. Whitehouse Station (NJ): Merck & Co., Inc.; 2006.
2. Management of abnormal cervical cytology and histology. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 66. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist. Obstet Gynecol 2005; 106: 645-64.
3. Ibid.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital HPV Infection Facts Sheet. Available at: Retrieved September 16, 2006.
5. Management of abnormal cervical cytology and histology. ACOG Practice Bulletin No. 66. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist. Obstet Gynecol 2005; 10
6: 645-64.6. Prescribing information for GARDASIL. Whitehouse Station (NJ): Merck & Co., Inc.; 2006.
7. Ibid.
8. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, phone representative, interview with the author, September 13, 2006.
9. Cave, S. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children’s Vaccinations. Warner Books, 2001. p.xviii.

Choosing Sides

By Michael Boldea, Jr.
Hand of Help Ministries

Although the events taking place throughout the world are captivating and interesting, we must look a little closer to home for the truly relevant occurrences as pertains to the children of God. Indeed, we need look no further than the church itself.

I say this with a heavy heart, but it must be said, the hour is coming, it is fast approaching, when those of the house of God must choose a side. Every one of us, claiming the name of Jesus, every one who calls themselves children of God will soon have to choose between being the persecuted or the persecutor. I realize the statement is shocking, but it was not intended for shock value. It is merely a statement of fact, one that is clearly visible taking into consideration the current events unfolding within the modern day church.

When one of America’s most influential evangelical leaders can make the statement that Jesus Christ is not the only way to God, when we are willing en masse, to abandon core beliefs, and fundamental doctrine for the sake of the world’s acclaim, it is inevitable that those who choose not to compromise the truth, those who choose to stand on the Word of God, will face the wrath of the compromisers.

The modern churches of compromise, and the world, have something in common dear friend, in that they both consider those who remain faithful to Christ, those who choose not to flirt with the world, and sell themselves, a stumbling block in the way of progress, an obstruction in the way of the perfect world they are envisioning, wherein we all serve the same God just by different names, and the deity, relevance, and necessity of Christ is nullified.

* * *

Yes, the true followers of Christ, will be hated due to the fact that they are unwilling to go along, just to get along, because they will valiantly continue to claim the ultimate truth that Jesus is the only way to salvation, that Jesus is the only way to God, and no man goes to the Father but by Him.

Very soon the true believer will be seen not only as a hindrance, but a hindrance that must be removed, and those illegitimate children, those who believe they know God, but whom God does not know, will mount a campaign against anyone bold enough to stand in the way of their agenda.

The time has come to choose a side, to know where we stand, to know what we believe, and know why we believe it. The time has come to prepare our hearts for the inevitable fallout, and persecution against the true children of God, to purpose in our hearts, as Daniel did, that we will not defile ourselves, that we will remain faithful, and continue to proclaim the truth no matter the consequence.

Those things which have been foretold, the self-same things that so many scoffed at not so long ago, no longer seem so impossible, but rather very probable. I know that some are rolling their eyes, saying in their hearts, this could never be, but the times are changing, the shape of things is becoming clearer, and above all else God is not a liar. If we do not heed the warnings of Christ, if we do not prepare ourselves that we may be steadfast in the face of persecution, we have no one to blame but ourselves, for we have been warned.

The promise to the faithful remains true throughout the ages, in that if we confess Christ before men, He will confess us before His Father who is in heaven, but so does the warning, that if we deny Him before men, He will also deny us before His Father.

Today for the sakes of our very souls, we choose with whom we stand. If it be with Christ, and in Christ, know that although in the eyes of the world you may be in the minority, in reality you are in the majority. If it be that we choose to stand with the world, know that although you may have bought yourself some comforts, you may have spared yourself some persecution, the price you chose to pay was too high indeed.

I for one made my choice long ago, and echo the words of a mighty man of God in saying, that no matter what may come, as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

WWJD: What Would J. (Edgar) Do?

By Graham H. Moes
Graybrook Institute Film Critic

Spy thriller Breach seems like the most openly religious film in recent memory. It begins with a man praying in church, ends with him asking for prayer, and depicts in between a conservative Christian family man doing all the things a conservative Christian family man does.

Granted, that man here is also a sexual deviant and the most devastatingly traitorous mole for America's enemies ever to escape a well-deserved death sentence.

Stands to reason. Guys who slam Hillary Clinton, decry the country's vulnerability to attack and exhort co-workers to draw nearer to God only see the light of a multiplex film projector when they're total hypocrites and sociopaths.

Still, it's a brilliant film.

Breach gives the play-by-play on the takedown of FBI agent Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper), the high-ranking Cold War veteran busted in pre-9/11 2001 after a career of selling out U.S. interests to the Russians. The extent of the damage done is still classified, though we know he handed our agents over to death on at least one occasion.

By all acounts, Hanssen was an enigma and a complicated guy. Probably more complicated than merely a troubled, well-armed, Catholic version of Jim Bakker. And had his other appetites extended beyond sex tapes of his wife and a fixation on Catherine Zeta-Jones into the same-sex realm, you can bet "sexual deviant" wouldn't have even made the script.

But apart from that and a line about the investigation of Bill Clinton being a witch hunt, Breach is a serious, gripping, and remarkably non-partisan film. Presidents come and go merely as photos on the Bureau's wall. John Ashcroft is depicted in an even light. And whatever Hanssen was or wasn't outside of church, those who took him down are depicted as heroes, the rare feds genuinely looking out for the country's best interests and proud of it.It's also a masterpiece of Hitchcock-style tension. Expect no shootouts or car chases (high speed, anyway) but an edge-of-your-seater nonetheless.

With his Shirley Temple pout, babyfaced Ryan Phillippe is hard to buy initially as the operative planted in Hanssen's office to out-spy the master spy. But that's the point. Even the paranoid Hanssen didn't see this kid coming. As the mouse one slight step ahead of the cat, and occasionally in its mouth, Phillippe turns out to be the ideal protagonist for this kind of thriller. (Enjoy the tinglies you get from seeing the killer about to enter the office our hero is ransacking for evidence? This one's for you.)

Forget cat... Hanssen was pure snake. And Chris Cooper, with his heavily lidded gaze and darting red tongue embedded in a colorless face -- tip of the hat to cinematographer Tak Fujimoto for the cold-blooded look of the film -- somehow nearly becomes one. He's spectacular, the spookiest spook since Hannibal Lecter, the original.

Oddly, the film hedges its bets regarding Hanssen's ultimate motives, satisfied that "obsessed religious fanatic" is close enough. Yet Cooper's villainous mojo fuels a thinking man's thriller, a subtle character study already fascinating for its true crime grounding. Yes, including the religious angle... Now if only the filmmakers hadn't had such a good time working it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Last Sin Eater

By Graham H. Moes
Graybrook Film Critic

4 out of 5 stars

After The Nativity Story opened to nothing but the chirping of crickets over the Christmas holiday (way to support the home team, church folks), studios have to be confused – and nervous. After Passion of the Christ made a mint, several had just launched Christian divisions for the overlooked market. Then that market up and overlooked the sure-bet "prequel" to Passion.

Actually, I know they’re nervous. Just last month, one of Fox Faith’s first outings, the psycho-thriller Thr3e, was ruthlessly yanked from theaters less than two weeks out of the gate for failing to break the bank. It’ll be lucky to break even on DVD at this point.

Luckily, believers still brazen enough to claim they support "family entertainment" when it’s offered have a second chance to put their money where their mouth is. The Last Sin Eater, a film based on Francine Rivers’ best seller, opened in many mid-sized to larger markets nationwide Feb. 8.

Directed by veteran "Christian movie" helmer Michael Landon Jr., the story focuses on an isolated Welsh community in 1850’s Appalachia and the personal tragedy at the center of one family, a tragedy that’s left 10-year-old Cadi in desperate need of the "sin eater" – a shadowy figure in Welsh social tradition invoked to appear and voluntarily take the sins of the dearly departed upon his own damned soul.

Think you can see where this one’s headed already? You’re right. Sort of.

Like M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village – which I suspect inspired the film’s tone as much as anything in the book – there’s more going on than meets the eye in this sleepy cove of farmers, bee keepers and porch-settin’ old folks.

Tragedy runs deep in old school Appalachian bluegrass music, and one appeal of Sin Eater is watching the source material for some of those songs in the action. It’s an uplifting story ultimately, a catharsis mounted by the steady-handed Landon and a well-crafted screenplay.

At this level of the biz, of course, forget big-star name recognition. There’s Henry Thomas (E.T., All the Pretty Horses, Gangs of New York) and Academy Award winner Louise "Nurse Ratched" Fletcher, about as far from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as humanly possible. But Thomas is a glorified cameo, and Fletcher is hardly Oscar-worthy here, laboring through a measured Gaelic brogue more Swedish Chef than Old Country Welsh.

But there the criticisms end.

The cast is strategically comprised of actors you’ll recognize but probably need to figure out why. With one or two exceptions, they’re stellar – particularly the Sin Eater himself.

Then there’s Liana Liberato as Cadi. A relative newcomer with a handful of previous TV roles under her belt, she breezes through a demanding role that, while never as high-octane as anything Dakota Fanning has done, suggests she’s as much a natural.

Liberato plays the pre-pubescent lost soul with conviction, giving the film its greatest strength – the ability to convince us of sin’s reality and the downward tug it can have on any life, no matter how young or otherwise "innocent."

More than the tug sin can have, it’s the tug it should have that modern viewers most take away from the experience. The power of Christ to heal the broken heart is largely lost today, even on Christians like me, in a culture that denies any need for healing in the first place.

But I can hear you now… "Sin and tragedy? Sign me up!"

Happy to report, Liberato also nails the other side of her character, a Tom and Betsy-like relationship with fellow spiritual traveler Fagan (Soren Fulton, Thunderbirds). The spunkiness of their unspoken crush is fun to watch and provides a nice emotional counterpoint to the rest.

Did I mention the "purple mountain majesties" cinematography? Worth the price of admission, particularly if you live somewhere currently under three feet of snow.

One minor quibble.

I haven’t read the book so I can’t say for sure, but from conversations with those who have, it seems they jazzed the ending a wee bit here. And in a way that – for a knee-jerk conservative like me – borders on the sort of Dances With Wolves revisionism to the American experience that never fails to work me into a frenzy.

Granted, I’m a right-wing nut job (and former history major) who often sees that stuff where never intended. Nor did I approach frenzy status. Whatever its politics, this late-inning twist to the story adds nothing to the more powerful, more real, story of Cadi and her family.

Still, a solid film recommended on multiple levels. So get out there and support this film before they stop making them again.

Next month, a review of Fox Faith’s next release, The Ultimate Gift.

To find a theater showing The Last Sin Eater near you, visit