This past week, “God’s Not Dead 2” hit theaters, garnering a $7.6 million opening weekend and a 13% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, starring Melissa Joan Hart and directed by Harold Cronk the director of the original movie, has caused some stirs in the Christian community.
The movie centers on Hart’s character Grace Wesley, a history teacher at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial High School. After answering a student’s question comparing Jesus’ teaching to Ghandi’s, Grace comes under fire from the school board for incorporating her faith into the lesson. The conflict eventually leads to a highly publicized lawsuit, where evil lawyer Peter Kane (Ray Wise) tries to prove once and for all that “God is dead.” Defended by the young and charming Tom Endler (Jesse Metcalfe), Grace fights to keep her job and faith in the public square.
In addition to Grace’s storyline, there are also several subplots, from a Chinese student struggling to share his faith with his family, to a reporter whose cancer went in remission struggling with her views on God. Also, the Newsboys were in it.
First: the plot. Essentially, the issue that Grace is getting sued for has nothing to do with her “preaching” in her classroom, she merely answered a student’s question comparing Ghandi’s teachings with the ones found in the Bible. The entire court case was about her forcing her faith on the students, when in reality, she was answering a question about a historical figure and referencing the words of that historical figure. I struggled to believe that this would ever happen in real life. It became an unreasonable stretch to believe some of the arguments against Grace, and how the case made it into a major court system.
On top of that, the movie made out almost everyone to be against Grace. It demonized institutions of higher learning, made the prosecutor out to be a ridiculous caricature of evil and featured numerous shots of protestors screaming abuses at the students supporting Grace outside of the courthouse. It didn’t really have any message about Christianity. Instead, I found myself disappointed to see a story that polarizes Christians from the rest of the world, emphasizing how we are persecuted, when in reality, I felt that the movie was doing a better job of persecuting everyone else.
The movie does a fantastic job of using sensationalized rhetoric in order to get the viewer to feel a certain feeling, knowing exactly when to cue the cheers and Newsboys music in the background. But it all feels as if it’s creating a greater gap between Christians and others than it should be.
I know it may be controversial at a Christian college, but honestly, this movie is just not good. Perhaps the one redeeming factor in the movie for me was the subplot that featured a Chinese college student. His father disowned him after discovering his faith, but he still chose to return to China in order to spread the Gospel.
I realize not everyone will agree with me on this, but I feel that this movie emphasizes the exact persecution complex that we should avoid as Christians. Think of the persecution people in other countries face for their faith. Remember to keep it all in perspective.