A Christian made movie about the real-life story of a son who makes peace with an Amazon tribe that killed his missionary father, has sparked controversy in the evangelical world after the casting of a gay actor for the lead role.

The film, End of the Spear, stars Chad Allen as slain missionary Nate Saint. Mr Allen is openly gay and is a proud advocate of gay rights.

Newsweek revealed criticisms made by Chrisitian ministers aimed at Every Tribe Entertainement, an evangelical film company.

“This story is perhaps one of the most precious, well-known mission stories of the last century,” Jason Janz, an assistant pastor in Colorado told Newsweek.

“I believe it was bad judgment to cast one of Hollywood’s foremost gay activists in the leading role.”

Mr. Janz posted his comments on his fundamentalist Christian Web site, sharperiron.org. He also asked the filmmakers to apologise for their choice.

The executives at Every Tribe stood by Mr. Allen. Jim Hanon, the director, said he was by far the best actor for the role. He told Newsweek: “If we make films according to what the Bible says is true, it’s incumbent upon us to live that,” he said.

“We disagree with Chad about homosexuality, but we love him and worked with him, and we feel that’s a Biblical position.”

More than 100 pastors of churches across the USA signed a letter drafted by Mr. Janz and addressed to Every Tribe expressing their disappointment in the casting of Mr. Allen.

Some evangelicals have boycotted the film, and Every Tribe’s executives said that they had also turned over to the authorities material that they considered threatening.

“Does anyone really believe that Chad Allen was the best possible actor for Nate Saint?” Mr. Janz asked in his online Christian blog. “That would be like Madonna playing the Virgin Mary.”