The Bible-based hit series The Chosen got its start with the support of the Christian community but is now impacting individuals who often reject religion, including atheists, says director and creator Dallas Jenkins.
During a livestream on Sunday night, Jenkins read a note from a fan of the series who said an atheist friend was watching The Chosen and enjoying it.
The series has been watched by an estimated 94 million people worldwide. It follows the story of Jesus and His disciples.
"A friend of mine who was an atheist started watching The Chosen yesterday," the friend wrote, according to Jenkins. "He's one of those hardcore atheists that likes to troll. ... He said to me that he is now binging through the show and watched all of Season 1 yesterday. He told me it's the best Christian media that has ever been produced."
"He's always been interested in religion in more of an intellectual way and likes to make a lot of jokes about religion," the friend wrote. "So I'm not sure what will happen, but you never know. It could plant a seed."
Season 3 (episodes 1 and 2) launched in theaters over the weekend, placing No. 3 with a gross of $8.7 million. Seasons 1 and 2 can be watched, for free, on The Chosen app.
"The show is starting to spread outside of Christian circles, which is really cool," Jenkins said.
Last week, Jenkins told Christian Headlines that the theatrical release "allows it to just reach more people [for Jesus]."
"And I think that's what really excites people — to see something show up on the box office list where you wouldn't normally expect it — [that] makes people go 'hmm,'" he said.
Sean O'Neal, a media writer for Texas Monthly, said The Chosen is "Christian TV that even heretics can get behind." It presents the disciples as "real, vaguely neurotic people, busting free of the stained-glass images that have long enshrined them. They bicker and fall in love. They struggle with insecurities and jealousies," he wrote.
"[F]or those who might wonder why 'the greatest story ever told' couldn't also have a little more humor or humanity … The Chosen is something of a miracle," O'Neal wrote.
'The Chosen' Can 'Reach More People' for Jesus with Theatrical Release: Dallas Jenkins
The Chosen Stuns Hollywood by Opening at No. 3: 'We're Shocking the Industry'
Photo courtesy: ©Angel Studios/The Chosen, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.