"Can you love your neighbor as yourself and at the same time knee him in the face as hard as you can?" That question is posed in Fight Church, a new documentary about churches that promote mixed martial arts fighting among pastors, Huffington Post reports. The film's directors were surprised to find hundreds of churches that attract congregants and build community with fighting. "Beyond churches that had formal or informal fight ministries, we discovered innumerable churches that included MMA as a component of a men's program," said co-director Daniel Junge.
While Jesus urged followers to "turn the other cheek," advocates of MMA church fighting say Jesus of Revelation provides a tougher image, and Biblical heroes like Samson and David showed their strength of the battlefield. "We don’t fight out of meanness," a pastor featured in the movie tells ABC News. "We have no hate or bitterness in our heart." Most "fight churches" are evangelical, white, and have struggled with attendance, the New York Times reports. The Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention have criticized the fighting, but mainstream churches have "feminized men," says a pastor in the trailer. Says another: "Tough guys need Jesus too."