At 16, Moriah Peters auditioned to be a contestant on “America Idol.”

She didn’t make it, but not because of her voice. In fact, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Avril Lavigne agreed she could sing.

So, what was the problem?

The problem was Peters told the judges she was a Christian and, because of her faith commitment, chaste. Peters said the celebrity judges praised her looks and her singing, but belittled her sexual choice.

One judge told her, “You’re trying to be too perfect,” while another told her, “Go out, kiss a guy, come back,” she says.

You want more wholesome, well-crafted Christian and family movies? Support the filmmakers and producers who are making them!

But the rejection by the “American Idol” judges didn’t deter Peters from pursuing a career as a singer and an actress. In fact, it spurred her determination. Since then, Peters signed a recording contract, released two albums and is starring in a new movie, “Because of Gracia,” debuting nationwide next month.

'Because of Gracia' (Photo: Facebook)

‘Because of Gracia’ (Photo: Facebook)

The writer-director of that film, Tom Simes, decided to tweak the judges with a letter inviting them to a screening of the movie at their convenience – so they can see how wrong they were.

“You may not recall her,” wrote Simes to the three judges, “but she auditioned for ‘American Idol’ about six years ago and didn’t make it past the first round of the celebrity panel auditions. Her short-lived ‘AI’ experience got her a record deal and she subsequently released two albums and is now starring in our film. Both she and I consider what happened to be an unexpected blessing.”

Simes thanked the judges for their “words of advice as it motivated her to follow her convictions.”

In “Because of Gracia,” Peters plays a high-school girl who is also saving herself for marriage.

“I honestly thought the director built Gracia’s character around my high-school experiences,” she said. “I was allowed to simply be myself, and it wasn’t difficult to dive into the controversial and tense circumstances.”

I have to tell you I had the pleasure of screening the film several months ago and found it thoroughly engaging and a breath of fresh air in a culture that puts so much pressure on children to discard their innocence.

See a trailer for “Because of Grácia”:

It’s not a big-budget epic, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is uplifting, well-acted, well-written, redemptive, thoroughly entertaining and remarkably real and truthful. I would recommend it to anyone, but particularly to teenagers and their parents.

It’s very strange how we live in a society today where anything goes – except responsible sexual choices, especially abstinence by kids!

In his screening invitation letter to the “American Idol” judges, Simes told them, “I know you’ll be blown away by Moriah’s performance.”

He’s right.

You want more wholesome, well-crafted Christian and family movies? Support the filmmakers and producers who are making them!

She’s got a screen presence that is dazzling and a smile that will light up dark theaters all over America beginning next month.

In “Because of Gracia,” Peters plays a pretty girl with a mysterious past who’s transitioning to a new high school, where her sudden popularity prompts abuse from some classmates. The film also features John Schneider, the former “Dukes of Hazzard” star, as the school principal.

Scene from 'Because of Gracia' (Photo: Facebook)

Scene from ‘Because of Gracia’ (Photo: Facebook)

The movie is being distributed by ArtAffects Entertainment, a company founded in 2003 by former Walt Disney distribution executive Daniel Lange and his wife, Margo Lange.

The company’s plan is to roll out “Because of Gracia” in 20 markets, then expand slowly.

“We just want to release meaningful films with good messages,” said Margo Lange. “‘Gracia’ is a small film, but I think it can touch a lot of people.”

As for Peters, she says she remained true to her vow and had her first kiss a few years ago when she married Joel Smallbone.

Make a note. Mark your calendar. Go see this film Sept. 15. Take the family. Take a church group. Take your friends. Bring the kids.

Check out Joseph Farah’s newest book, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age.”

Media wishing to interview Joseph Farah, please contact [email protected].

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