Astronauts watch 'Risen' from outer space over Easter weekend

by Michael Foust |

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Christian Examiner) – Astronauts aboard the International Space Station Easter weekend watched "Risen," the faith-based film starring Joseph Fiennes that follows a Roman manhunt for the body of Christ.

A Facebook page run by Sony Pictures announced over the weekend that residents aboard the ISS were watching the movie, although the company did not say who requested it or even how many of the six occupants took part in the screening.

"Astronauts on The International Space Station are watching RISEN this Easter weekend!" the message read.

The Christian Examiner was told that due to NASA restrictions, no more information would be released. Sony presumably would have had to approve the special screening.

But the fact that an explicit Bible-themed movie was screened in space was enough to get fans of the film on social media excited.

"I don't suppose there's an astronaut alive that could be an atheist," one fan, Donna Boucher, wrote on Facebook. "Seeing the universe from up there would be astounding!"

Another fan, Tammy Williams, wrote, "This is so amazing to hear. God bless the astronauts on the space shuttle. So blessed to be able to see this wonderful movie."

The current International Space Station crew is comprised of three Russian cosmonauts, two U.S. astronauts, and one European Space Agency astronaut.

The astronauts' various Twitter feeds did not give any clues as to who requested the film, although U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams did post a picture of the Northern Lights on Sunday with the message, "On this Easter morning, I was treated with a spectacular view of the power and beauty in the Creator's work."

Williams, in fact, is a Christian and has discussed his faith several times in public, including during a 2000 interview with pastor John MacArthur.

"My prayer for years has been to be God's faithful instrument in all I do and that I would submit to His will in wherever He sent me, and He's given me this great privilege," Williams said.

Being an astronaut, he said, "allows you to live your Christian life in a unique environment surrounded by pilots and engineers and military people and scientists and you live your Christian life there, and when God gives you that platform because of your unique role to communicate His Gospel ... that's a special privilege as well."

"Risen" in its six weeks has grossed $36 million, well more than its $20 million budget.