We’ve received a lot of feedback over the last few days on the Advent challenge, with many folks really excited and many, understandably, upset, hurt, or confused. Many have asked questions about Hallow’s stance on issues of Church teaching.
I’d want to start by saying that Hallow stands proudly and unequivocally in support of all Catholic Church teaching, especially the pro-life stance of the Church and the USCCB’s affirmation of the end of abortion as the preeminent priority. It is a heartbreakingly important issue that we as an organization, and I personally, take very seriously. We have several explicitly pro-life prayers and meditations on the app guided by the foremost pro-life leaders in the Church. We would never allow any content on the app that goes against the pro-life teaching of the Church. We consistently send our team to the March for Life each year. We will do everything in our power as long as we are around to assist in the fight for life and to work to let God change hearts and minds.
When we originally decided on the theme for this year’s Advent challenge, we prayed and reflected on who might be best to help bring C.S. Lewis’s words to life and help us all to grow closer to Christ, while still remaining, as we always do and will, fully in-line with Church teaching.
We were thrilled with the opportunity to partner with Liam as a voice actor to read the C.S. Lewis passages because of his powerful portrayal of Aslan (who is C.S. Lewis’s representation of Christ) in the C.S. Lewis films. We felt that pairing Liam alongside Jonathan Roumie and an incredible religious sister would allow us to hear Liam bring to life the writings in a new way, while also letting the religious sister and Jonathan lead us deeper into a Catholic reflection on the passages.
They’ve all three done an incredible job recording the scripts. They are each deeply moving and we’re excited and humbled to be able to share them with the Hallow community. We believe that many will find them life-changingly powerful and that the challenge will help them grow deeper in their relationship with God.
All that being said, we do not stand behind or claim to endorse any of the personal views, past actions, or political opinions of any of the narrators on the app. We have many actors on the app with differing personal views on many topics, some who are practicing Catholics, but several of whom come from different faith backgrounds. Several have done things in the past or may hold personal views that we would disagree with. The one thing we do strongly stand behind is every word they read within the app itself.
We have two different philosophies for approaching partners. One is for anyone on the app we have sharing their own reflections or sermons. This bar is very high – we look for the partner to have deep expertise in what they are speaking about and an extensive background in theology and adherence to the Church. We must ensure and trust that everything they say on the app is 100% orthodox and in-line with Church teaching. The other bar is for our actors or other partners. These partners are each reading from a script – usually Scripture passages or quotes from theological writings – written by our theology team. We partner with these actors, athletes, and creators, some of whom are not practicing Catholics, for their ability to bring the readings to life in a new way and invite a new audience to prayer. Our philosophy for which partners we work with in this second category has been primarily rooted, as everything we do at Hallow is, in discerning the extent to which it will help people grow closer to God while also seriously evaluating any risk that any content or partnership might lead people away from God.
While the majority of the content on Hallow, by far, is led by incredible religious – nuns, priests, bishops – who lead people into deep reflections and spiritual practices, our goal at Hallow has always been to try to reach out to folks who have fallen away and to invite them into a relationship with Christ. This often means partnering with non-traditional partners and people from different backgrounds. It’s one of the reasons why we’re so grateful to the partners who do choose to work with us. It takes courage, especially in today’s world, to decide to partner with an explicitly Catholic app and to use your talents and platform as a celebrity to invite people into prayer. It’s an honor to work with our partners – both those who take their Catholic faith seriously, and those who are in different places in their faith journey – to try to join in with God’s effort to reach out to the very hardest to reach, those in the darkest of places.
As with every major decision at Hallow, we prayed deeply through this decision and consulted heavily with our advisors. It is a very difficult decision. Ultimately for us it comes down to our discernment in prayer. I do not always get clear answers in prayer, but in this particular case I do strongly believe this is what God is calling us to do. I understand if you disagree.
On that note, I deeply appreciate all the feedback. We are very early in the process of learning how to build this content & community. Please know of our prayers for you. I humbly ask you for yours.
Alex, CEO & Co-Founder