“I think it’s so important to do something that’s visual now. We’re in such a quick-visual age,” he told The Root. “Not many people read the Bible now, and there are so many great stories and parables that you can apply to your daily life. If we can get some of these into our immediate viewership, we can make a difference.”
Downey and Burnett didn’t focus solely on presenting a miniseries that looked good. To ensure that it accurately reflected the Bible, the couple consulted more than 40 biblical scholars and religious leaders to advise on the production, including Pastor Rick Warren, who is preaching the virtues of the miniseries to his flock. Others who have given their vocal support to the project include Maya Angelou, Downey’s Touched by an Angel co-star Della Reese and Bishop T.D. Jakes.
“We haven’t seen a mainstream TV depiction of this magnitude since Charlton Heston and The Ten Commandments — especially on TV with this quality level,” Jakes told The Root. “I think programming should be a reflection of what influences us as a society — art, politics, everything. Faith has a place in the conversation.”
Reese, who shares a strong spiritual connection with Downey, feels that the miniseries will have a major effect on both believers and nonbelievers alike.
“Those who don’t believe will hate it because it’s so real, it will be hard to argue about,” Reese told The Root. “Believers will investigate and start seeing it as a reality. It will give them an understanding that will open the door to a relationship with God.”
The Bible airs starting March 3 on the History Channel and will air each Sunday through Easter on March 31.
Julia Chance is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based journalist and the author of Sisterfriends: Portraits of Sisterly Love. Genetta M. Adams is a contributing editor for The Root.