God's Not Dead 2
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Films and TV
God's Not Dead 2 is the
long awaited sequel to the Christian propaganda film God's Not Dead (as if it needed a sequel). Released on April 1st, 2016, sources have confirmed that it, unfortunately, was not an April Fool's Joke.Do You Believe That? The film has grossed a telling amount of $23 million worldwide. To no one's surprise, it has a much coveted 8% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, making it hella rotten and putting it on par with The Emoji Movie, which also scored 8%.
In this film,
Sabrina the Teenage Witch Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart) is an AP History teacher who mentions Jesus to Erica Goldberg Brooke Thawley, a student in class. She is then sued by Leland Palmer Pete Kane (Ray Wise), who now works for the ACLU despite — or, in this universe, because of — basically being a figure of pure evil. A cast of people you might dimly remember from old TV is bulked out by Robin Givens (Head of the Class) as an evil school administrator and Jesse Metcalfe (Desperate Housewives) as a nice lawyer. All your favorite characters from the first film pop up again, now even more extremist. Real-life Christian apologist J. Warner Wallace appears as a witness in the trial, plugging his book, Cold-Case Christianity, along with Lee Strobel, who plugs his The Case for Christ. Mike Huckabee also makes a cameo. Some subplots of the film include a former college blogger getting convinced by anecdotal evidence that prayers can be answered, and Martin Yip, a college student getting disowned by his father for being a Christian. In the end, Grace wins the lawsuit after Tom Endler (Jesse Metcalfe), her defense attorney, portrays Grace as a hostile witness. A sequel is set up at the end with Pastor Dave arrested when he won't turn over copies of his sermons under a subpoena (for no apparent reason). Overall, the plot bombs.
Portrayal of atheists
You would think that they would have made atheists seem less evil in the second movie than the first. However, it seems like they have yet to learn the difference between atheism and misotheism. In this film, atheists are portrayed as mean, selfish, and militant douchebags who believe God is Dead™ and that Christians are evil. Pete is portrayed as an evil lawyer who is such an atheist that he believes that the loss of a single lawsuit will somehow result in secularism ending. Martin's father is also portrayed as cruel, selfish, and just a complete asshole. It is important to point out that most atheists do not behave this way, and that any people that do are not representative of the entire atheist population, contrary to what this movie tries to prove.[citation NOT needed]
It is interesting to note that the two films have messages that completely contradict each other. In the first film, the evil atheist professor (at a university) is the villain for forcing his personal beliefs on the students. However, in the second film, the Christian teacher (at a public school) is the hero for sticking up for her beliefs, "Standing with God and being judged by the world", as she says in the movie. So, while the message of the franchise is not "don't force your beliefs on your students," it's really a more simple and less nuanced idea: Christians=good, atheists=bad. And while not forcing your ideas on someone is great, it's also exactly what this film does. We're not sure how they managed to keep two conflicting things in their heads like this.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the film entirely botches US law. First of all, the plot wouldn't happen at all. At most, if Grace did something inappropriate, she would be fired (as the film shows). They wouldn't then sue her. If anything, if what the film shows is true, she would probably sue them for wrongful termination and violations of her constitutional rights. These cases involve the school, not just the individual teacher. So if Grace had been, say, preaching to her students, the school might be sued. However, it would be in federal court. This is portrayed as in state court, with a jury. When suing a government (the public school, here, which represents one) there is no jury however. During the trial there's mention of a "not guilty" verdict and "indictment", which come from criminal law, while this is a civil case. Further, the historical existence of Jesus (or lack thereof) would be irrelevant. The "experts" called by the defense are not that, so the plaintiffs could have them disqualified, as neither is a historian. Lastly, the ACLU would likely defend Grace if she were sued (somehow) for simply mentioning Jesus. However it isn't clear what Grace is even being sued for. So to put it simply: they got every detail wrong.
Critics noted that the film was slightly more competent than the original, with Ray Wise in particular giving an entertaining performance, and generally more of an idea about basic things like structure, despite thumping its audience with a leaden and implausible one-note message no more advanced than the original. Variety concluded that it operates at the level of your average middle-school play – except with far greater levels of upside-down logic and bald-faced intolerance for anyone not enraptured by the New Testament. And yes, the Newsboys are back with more terrible Christian rock.
Rotten Tomatoes listed 3/36 good reviews, including one from bastion of liberalism Huffington Post, although Bitdefender claims that the website of San Diego Film Critics Society member Diana Saenger is too virus-ridden to allow me to read her 5/5 judgment.
In a nutshell
- God's Not Dead — the first movie
- 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.
- Pat Boone — he is in this movie!
- Atheist professor myth — the bullshit that inspired the first movie.
- American Civil Liberties Union — the union that inspired the second.
- Unplanned, an anti-abortion propaganda film by the same writers