By Michael Medved
“God’s Not Dead 2” is a sequel to the film of the same name. It’s not a good movie, but it is an OK movie that is well-acted, and well written.
It has a lot of homey situations, and sympathetic characters played by great and popular actors such as Ray Wise, Ernie Hudson, Melissa Joan Hart, Fred Dalton Thompson and Pat Boone to name a few. I give it 2.5 stars out of 4.
“God’s Not Dead (part 1)” was a surprise smash hit. It actually grossed over $100 million. It’s one of the top performing faith-based movies since “Passion of the Christ.” The first film is set at a university where a student is challenged by a philosophy professor — he’s asked to sign a statement that says he accepts that God is dead. And he won’t because he’s a Christian. The professor says “alright, if you believe god is not dead you have to answer my arguments.” And they go through a semester-long series of debates.
“God’s Not Dead 2” has somewhat of a different premise, and is a little bit more relatable. There is a high school history teacher talking about Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. and passive resistance. The female student asks a question relating the topic to Jesus’ statement about loving your enemy and praying for those that persecute you. The teacher responds, linking together nonviolence, Jesus, the Bible, MLK, and Gandhi.
The teacher is suspended because she brought Jesus into class, even though she is responding to student’s question. The movie is therefore about the resulting trial the teacher faces for her actions.
Ray Wise plays an ACLU attorney who is, of course, the bad guy in the movie. What I found as a shame, is this fine actor could have done a role where you understand what is motivating this individual prosecuting this teacher. And that is never explored.
“God’s Not Dead 2” further feeds a narrative that Christians have become a persecuted majority in their own country — and it’s surprising how many people actually believe that.
The movie, at least, tells the truth that you are allowed to talk about religion anytime you want because that is in the first amendment. What the film is really good at conceding is that the standard for what a teacher says at a public school is different than a private school. A public school has to accommodate everybody. You cannot represent a government position and be pro-religion. The point the movie is making is that you can’t have a government position that is anti-religion either.
This is a real issue that people can debate: At what point does trying to guarantee that there is no established religion — as required in the First Amendment — interfere with the free exercise clause of the first amendment?