As a star of the 1980s TV sitcom Growing Pains, Kirk Cameron grew up entertaining Americans. Now the child actor turned evangelical Christian uses his talents to minister to people nationwide. Cameron, whose beliefs on topics including homosexuality and gay marriage continue to generate controversy, appears tonight at First Baptist Church of Brandon.
After starring in the 2008 film Fireproof, the story of a struggling married couple brought together by faith, Cameron partnered with Feed Your Faith ministries and musician Warren Barfield to form a live tour based on the movie. Their "Love Worth Fighting For" tour features biblical teachings about love and relationships.
Cameron, 41, will also engage the audience during a VIP question-and-answer session.
From his home in Los Angeles, the actor spoke with the Tampa Bay Times about marriage, family and the backlash that resulted when, in March, he appeared on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight and referred to homosexuality as "unnatural." Cameron's more recent comments in support of Missouri congressman Todd Akin, made when Cameron appeared on NBC's Today show, also fueled a media firestorm.
What originally inspired you to bring the messages of Fireproof on tour with Love Worth Fighting For?
There was such a strong reaction to the film and people were so touched by it, we thought it would be good to turn it into a live experience and bring it into people's communities. We started it in Knoxville, Tenn., and 9,000 people came that weekend and it has been a huge success the last few years.
What topics will you address at the event?
It's about how to fireproof your marriage, how to strengthen and nourish the most important relationship you have on Earth. The best gift you can give to your children is a great marriage. We show scenes from Fireproof. It's a combination of ministry, humor and music, and then there are deep Biblical teachings on the subject of marriage.
How has applying the biblical principles presented at the event made a difference in your personal life and your own marriage?
It makes a huge difference. Marriage comes with an instruction manual. When difficult times come, too many people throw in the towel. It's about pulling out the instruction manual. It's what I do and I think it makes me a better husband. Of course, you'd have to ask my wife to make sure that's really true. It's about understanding you can't change your spouse. It's about giving your spouse a new you. You have to trust God will use you as a great vessel to bring hope and joy into your marriage.
Obviously your comments about homosexuality and most recently about Todd Akin created a lot of controversy. How do you deal with the backlash? Do you turn to the Bible? Do you turn to your wife for support?
Or do I just run and dive under the covers? Definitely before interviews, I do my best to prepare what I want to talk about but you never know what is going to happen during an interview or if you will be pushed into a corner and pushed into discussing a subject you are not there to talk about. So when controversy comes, I jump on the surfboard and ride the wave. I stand by what I believe is right and true and good. It can be difficult but you learn to have thick skin. Things like family, faith and freedom are things that need to be fought for and defended. I can't choose to sit by on the sidelines hoping to never stir a controversy. If you do that these things can possibly be taken away from you.
You recently made a documentary, Monumental, tracing the history of the pilgrims and America's founding fathers. What inspired you to make the film?
I love my kids and I'm concerned about the world they are walking into. Our country is $16 billion in debt, and morally and spiritually it is in a nosedive. Monumental is about asking how to set the reset button and go back to when the founders made America free, strong and into the most blessed nation in the whole world.
Sarah Whitman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2439.