April has brought America the highly anticipated sequel to the Pure Flix movie from 2014, GOD’S NOT DEAD. Like the original film, GOD’S NOT DEAD 2 challenges American Christians to grapple with the fact that freedom to express their faith is under fire.
In the two-hour, PG-rated film, Grace Wesley is a conscientious Christian and public high school history teacher. When she answers some honest questions about Jesus, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., posed to her in the classroom by a struggling, seeking student, she soon finds herself in trouble and at the forefront of a crusade … to prove that God is still not dead.
When Grace refuses to apologize for her brief classroom response, where she quoted some words of Jesus, from the Gospel of Matthew, the school board votes to suspend her and threatens to revoke her teaching certificate. Finally, a zealous civil liberties group drags her into court, where they seek to leverage her “religious” responses, as a way to drive the anti-religious wedge even deeper than it already is.
The film’s fictional “test case” sheds light on some now commonly held notions and misconceptions about the legal “separation of church and state” and could have effectively expelled God from the classroom–and the public square–once and for all! However, it is indisputable that current religious freedoms are indeed taking a hit in our culture. The list of real-life, legal challenges, seen scrolling at the end of the credits, aptly illustrates this.
Michael Scott, producer and founding partner of the Christian-film-distribution company Pure Flix, says “Cases where the religious freedoms of everyday men and women are being restricted by courts and government agencies are sadly quite common today.” He went on to explain their purpose for producing this film: “Our hope is that we can start a conversation in the country with this movie, about how critical the right to believe—and to talk about that belief in public—is to our nation.”
Entertainer Pat Boone appears in the film, as a supportive grandfather to the lead character. When “Saturday Night Live” presented a parody skit about “God’s Not Dead 2”, Pat was quick to publicly say he felt it was offensive to Christians, Jews and homosexuals, and thinks the long-running show is feeding cynicism in America.
In this case, he said, “it’s particularly scurrilous and irresponsible because they presented ‘God’s Not Dead 2’ as if we were dealing with homosexuality or in some way with Christian-Judaism conflict and the film has nothing to do with any of that. They made it up totally because they literally wanted to back us (Christians) into a corner on the subject of homosexuality, and of course, the film had nothing whatsoever to do with it.”
In the skit, “God is a Boob Man,” a woman is forced by a Jewish ACLU lawyer to declare that “God is gay.” The 82-year-old singer says, “If I were in the homosexual community, or if I were Jewish, I would be just as irate as being presented fallaciously and ridiculously as the militant homosexuals are in their parody because they are demanding things that would embarrass any responsible homosexual, and I know quite a few,” he said. “They would not like to be presented as being so idiotic as trying to prove in court that God is gay. That presents them in a horrible light and very bigoted light.”
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