Jesus Revolution tells the story of Lonnie Frisbee’s immense contribution to the evangelical Christian Jesus Movement on the West Coast in the late 60s and early 70s. Nicknamed the hippie preacher, Lonnie convinced thousands of people to get baptized and join the church. Lonnie left Calvary Chapel, the first church he helped build, after falling out with its founder, Chuck Smith.
Lonnie Frisbee and Connie Frisbee were in their late teens when they got married
Lonnie Frisbee was 18 and Connie Frisbee 19 when they got married. The pair had plenty in common, including abusive upbringings and drug use. Connie’s father, a violent man, abandoned the family, leaving her with a neglectful, alcoholic, and drug-addicted mother. “Lonnie and I both had such horrific child abuse, that I would say that Lonnie and I had mental illness issues,” Connie told God Reports.
Connie said that she and Lonnie suffered during their time at Calvary Chapel. She claimed that despite the couple’s hard work and success at increasing the church’s congregation, Chuck Smith refused to compensate them. “Do you know that Lonnie and I were still dumpster diving, and eating garbage out of the back of the supermarket trash cans up until we left Calvary Chapel?” Connie stated.
Chuck Smith told Connie that her marriage wasn’t important when she sought advice about a successful marriage, she said. The success of the Jesus Movement tore the couple apart, as Lonnie dedicated most of his time to the church. Connie said that God and the congregation took priority over her marriage, a point made abundantly clear by Smith.
“Well, your marriage isn’t important, Connie. The only thing that’s important right now is that people are getting saved,” Smith allegedly told Connie. “You can imagine what that would do to a young girl who hadn’t been married very long,” Connie added.
Bob Mumford tried to convince Lonnie to take a break from the church to work on his marriage, but he declined. “Lonnie had already gotten used to the accolades from the crowd and the admiration that comes with being in a position,” Connie stated.
Lonnie and Connie separated in 1973; the couple finalized their divorce in 1975. Connie remarried; Lonnie remained unmarried until his death in 1993.
Connie hid his homosexuality from people and refused to include it in his testimony
Connie told God Reports that Lonnie didn’t consider himself a homosexual. She explained: “He thought he was saved out of that. In speaking to me about it, he said that because homosexuals can’t procreate, they have to recruit other people to be homosexuals. That’s what he told me, that he was recruited.”
She said that Lonnie hid his homosexuality from people; he deleted it from his testimony because he didn’t like how people reacted to the news. Connie viewed concealing the truth as a bad idea. She stated:
“My stance was I don’t think that’s a good idea. Why would you want to give up that part of your testimony? You could help so many people. It is really quite wonderful. I think I was right on about that, beyond my years or my maturity level. Had Lonnie kept that a part of his testimony it would not have been so easy for him to slip back into it. If you walk in the light.”
Connie opined that the breakdown of her marriage to Lonnie started his slide back into homosexuality. “When you backslide, where do you go? You go right back to your vomit. When Lonnie was heartbroken, he went back to his vomit too,” Connie said.
Jesus Revolution’s co-director, Brent McCorkle, talked to Brittany Valadez on Bravely Daily: From Pop Culture to God Culture about the filmmakers’ decision to omit Lonnie’s homosexuality. Brent stated that in the late 60s and early 70s, the period chronicled by the film, Lonnie had given up homosexuality, so there was no need to mention it.
“But that was just our thing. It’s like, okay, who was Lonnie in 1969, in 1971? We’re gonna stay there. So he was married to Connie. They had a turbulent relationship, and we played it with the Lonnie that we know historically was happening in ’69 and ’70,” Brent said.
Connie, who wasn’t consulted by the filmmakers, told God Reports that 90% of the film is false. “They’ve tidied it all up so much that it just stinks to high heaven to me – and whitewashed it,” she said. “That’s not how it was. If the truth were known, I wouldn’t look so good. Lonnie wouldn’t look great.”