Sound of Freedom is a box office surprise. However, the Christian thriller has sparked debate due to conspiracy theories and its depiction of human trafficking.


The film “Sound Of Freedom” was the surprise box office smash of the summer, grossing more than $85 million in ticket sales. According to NPR’s Shannon Bond, the film is being condemned as a vehicle for conspiracy ideas.

SHANNON BOND, BYLINE: “Sound Of Freedom” is a suspenseful thriller about a former federal agent who saves children from exploitation.


(As character) UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Why are you doing it?

(Singing) Sweet country of liberty, unidentified person.

JIM CAVIEZEL: (As Tim Ballard) ‘Cause God’s children aren’t for sale.

BOND: The film is highly promoted in conservative media since it is based on a real-life controversial anti-trafficking campaigner. It drew the attention of the wider public when it generated nearly as much money on its first day of release as the most recent “Indiana Jones” film. And a significant part of its success has to do with an appeal from its star, Jim Caviezel, who appears on screen at the conclusion imploring fans to buy extra tickets so that others can watch it.


CAVIEZEL: Let us make this film a historic event that marks the beginning of the end of child trafficking.

BOND: Caviezel is promoting the film in different ways. For years, he has been a vocal proponent of the false, violent QAnon conspiracy theory, notably the idea that an international cabal of elites is abusing and murdering children in order to harvest a drug known as adrenochrome. These outlandish assertions have been inextricably linked to narratives about child trafficking, and Caviezel is promoting them on his press tour. Here’s a recent conversation with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon regarding what’s fueling child demand.


Adrenochrome, according to CAVIEZEL. The entire empire of adrenochromes. This is significant.

BOND: “Sound Of Freedom” itself makes no mention to adrenochrome or other conspiracy theories. It was really shot before the QAnon phenomenon began. Angel Studios, the film’s distributor, has openly denied any involvement with conspiracy. Tim Ballard, the former federal agent on whom Caviezel’s character is based, and his group Operation Underground Railroad share this sentiment. My interview requests were all denied or did not receive a response from any of them. However, Ballard recently asserted that adrenochrome harvesting is true. And his and Caviezel’s words have an influence, according to Mike Rothschild, who wrote a book about QAnon.

MIKE ROTHSCHILD: It’s being sold to QAnon members. This community has embraced it, and its principal actor is a significant part of the QAnon community.

BOND: Aside from the QAnon cloud, the film’s rescue story is also a lightning rod. According to Vice News’ Tim Marchman and Anna Merlan, many of the missions described in Operation Underground Railroad are difficult to authenticate or contain serious misrepresentations.

TIM MARCHMAN: They’re not outright lies, but they reassemble facts that are accurate or almost so into stories that are radically and entirely different from what actually happened.

BOND: Vice’s conclusions have been rejected by Operation Underground Railroad. “Sound Of Freedom” goes even further in fictionalizing Ballard’s story, having him taking on a crime gang on his own. The studio admits to taking “creative liberties.” However, anti-trafficking authorities are concerned about these popular images. They claim to provide an incomplete picture of a real and pressing situation. Elizabeth Campbell is the co-director of the Human Trafficking Clinic at the University of Michigan.

ELIZABETH CAMPBELL: Because human trafficking is so varied and affects so many different people, it really tries our ability to not reduce it to some sort of “this is what a typical victim of human trafficking looks like.” And I believe that by doing so, we make actual victims of human trafficking more conspicuous and prone to victimization.

BOND: She also claims that they redirect people’s attention, resources, and policy recommendations away from where they are most needed.


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