God's Not Dead
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|—Anonymous Christian pastor|
God's Not Dead is a fundamentalist Christian propaganda film made by a director no one has ever heard of named Harold
Crank Cronk. The film is based on the infamous "atheist professor" chain emails. It follows the story of an Evangelical college freshman named Josh Wheaton who takes a philosophy class in which he is challenged by atheist professor Jeffrey Raddison.
The film currently boasts a rating of 14% on Rotten Tomatoes, and has been criticized by secular and religious reviewers alike.
“”You know, it's economical not to have a storyline, 'cause then you can just film people saying things.
|—Crow T. Robot, Mystery Science Theater: 3000 (Werewolf)|
The movie follows Josh, our WASP main protagonist, in his quest to prove God's existence to his classmates after his professor, Raddison, threatens him with a failing grade unless he either proves that God exists or admits God doesn't exist. A few sub-plots include: a Muslim dad getting pissed at his daughter for converting to Christianity; Raddison's relationship with his Christian girlfriend, whom he constantly belittles for her belief in Jesus; Raddison's girlfriend's brother, Mark, refusing to visit his mother, who has dementia; the brother being in a boss/employee relationship with a woman who loves to hate on Duck Dynasty (considering the role the Robertson family played in making this film, that's just being petty); and a lovable Chinese exchange student being led to Christ by Josh. After some preliminary debates, Josh trounces Raddison in a final debate by asserting that there had to be a first cause, then prodding Raddison until he yells that he really does believe in God, but he hates him. After this debate, Raddison is hit by a car and converts to Christianity as he lies dying. Then everybody has a big Christian alt rock party as Kevin Sorbo and his magical black friend go to Heaven.
Why this would never happen
The entire premise of the movie is reliant on Josh being persecuted for his religious beliefs by his professor. The problem is that most colleges have policies against the faculty discriminating on religious grounds. All Josh would have to do is complain to the administration and Raddison would be disciplined. Not that he would have to, because no self-respecting expert in philosophy would force his class to accept a view without question, as that would defeat the entire point of studying philosophy in the first place. He also wouldn't let the student take up the bulk of the time, unless he was exceptionally lazy (not generally something associated with rabid persecution).
Portrayal of atheists
The movie portrays atheists as militant assholes who hate God, Christians, and everyone else. Mark is portrayed as an inconsiderate asshole who dumps his girlfriend as soon as she gets cancer (and we thought that was Newt Gingrich's specialty!). When he finally visits his mother, he insults her for being a demented old fundamentalist. She responds by saying "Your financial success was given to you by Satan." (And all this time we thought Christians felt wealth was a sign of God's favor!) Raddison is portrayed as what most fundamentalists think atheists are: God-haters, who really do believe in God. It is worth mentioning at this point that believing in and hating God is not atheism: it's misotheism. Raddison only uses weak arguments such as the Argument from authority by citing Stephen Hawking.
The movie claims to be inspired by the "real-life court cases" of the Christian legal group "Alliance Defending Freedom". The credits of the movie include a list of several of the ADF's cases. Few of the ADF's cases are clear-cut, and none of them involve a professor violating a student's religious belief. Instead, there's a case of the ADF getting sexual harassment charges against a librarian dropped by threatening counter-action, and a fair number of cases involving students getting in trouble for discriminating against non-Christian students in their Christian clubs.
Due to the cost of making these being so low that it's nearly impossible to make a loss[Note 1] regardless of how bad it's received probably means they're gonna keep churning these out until Armageddon.[citation NOT needed]
The film's 14% Tomatometer rating (as of 23 April, 2018) means it is 14 percentage points better than such films as Jaws: The Revenge, Police Academy 4, Highlander 2: The Quickening, Roberto Benigni's Pinocchio, and Adam Sandler parody Western The Ridiculous 6, although perhaps featuring fewer sharks, swordfights, or Native American caricatures. Rotten Tomatoes does list some positive reviews: The Hollywood Reporter praised its production and cast, and gave it credit for discussing the ideas of atheists Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins, concluding "The film has entertaining moments, but these are clearly secondary to its proselytizing intentions." Along with 18 negative reviews, RT also lists praise from jackiekcooper.com and parental information site Screen It, which awarded 5.5/10 and admired its makers' earnestness.
In a nutshell
- God's Not Dead 2 — the sequel
- God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness — the third in the series
- Kirk Cameron who produced and "starred" in Saving Christmas — an even crappier film in the genre
- Atheist professor myth — the bullshit that inspired the movie
- The Bible Reloaded — film review
- Unplanned, a 2019 anti-abortion screed by the same writers
- The two movies had a combined budget of only $7 million.
- God's Not Dead (2014) It's Bad and I'm Sorry. Review by joefred-962-369729 on imdb.com.
- God's Not Dead (2014) at imdb.com.
- God's Not Dead (2014) at Rotten Tomatoes.
- God's Not Dead (2014) synopsis at imdb.com.
- Exclusive Interview with Pure Flix Entertainment for God's Not Dead Movie. Alliance Defending Freedom, 14 February 2014.
- See the Wikipedia article on List of films with a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
- God's Not Dead Review, Stephen Farber, The Hollywood Reporter
- God's Not Dead, Screen It, 2014