I want to preface this post by saying that I don’t believe Christians are evil. You believe what you want and I’ll believe what I want. I’m agnostic, which means that I’m on the fence. There might be a God, there might not, I don’t really know and I don’t claim to know. My point is that I don’t want to hate on people’s beliefs. What I’m hating on is this movie. It was propaganda, pure and simple.
This film, God’s Not Dead propagates ignorance and misinformation. It makes out Atheists as evil and bitter. Technically, the professor Mr. Radisson (played by Kevin Sorbo, TV’s Hercules) wasn’t even an Atheist. He was a bitter, disappointed Christian. His mother died when he was twelve and so he decided that God was dead. But someone can’t be dead if you don’t believe they exist in the first place. This is what I like to call extremist logic.
I warned my mom against seeing this movie. I knew we weren’t going to like it. She insisted that it looked like it could be good. At the very least we could root for the Atheist. My mom believed the movie was going to be like a docu-drama, merely presenting ideas and letting the audience decide. It was practically the opposite, forcing viewers to look at characters as worse or better depending on what they believed.
Basically, on the first day of his philosophy class, Professor Radisson wants his students to write God is dead on a piece of paper, sign it, and turn it in. One boy, Josh Wheaten, stands up for the Lord and refuses to sign the paper. This means he’ll have to take on a project where he proves/makes an argument that God is NOT Dead. Or he’ll have to drop the class.
Let me start with the college class. What kind of asshole professor forces his own beliefs on students? It would be one thing to push aside the topic of God, because it is a philosophy class, not religion, and everyone could agree to just work around the topic instead of arguing over whether God is real, because that’s not what philosophy is about. But it’s an entirely different story to make your students sign a paper that might be against their beliefs. Secondly, the narrative wants us to believe that in a class of 50 students there is only ONE Christian. Really? Where in America do they live, that there is only one Christian in a freshman general education class?
The major problem with this movie is that the plot hinges on Christians being the minority. Not only are Christians the minority, but they are the persecuted minority, which is completely the opposite of real life. Everyone is mocking Christians or telling them to give up their beliefs. The professor’s girlfriend is a Christian and when she says so at a dinner party with his colleagues they all look at her like she said something weird or disgusting.
In America, I’ve read that at least 70% of the country identifies as Christian. Which we can believe with the outpouring of religious films lately, such as Heaven is for Real and Son of God. The film God’s Not Dead itself is a showcase of how powerful Christianity is in America simply because this film was made. Yet the movie world wants us to believe that Christians are a minority? The Christian rock concert at the end is packed full, but in Josh Wheaton’s freshman philosophy class he is the only Christian? I call bullshit.
Not only does the plot hinge on this alternate universe belief that Christians are the minority, but the subplots are there only to demonize other beliefs. There is a subplot with a Muslim father who makes his daughter wear a hijab. A symbol of oppression to the “enlightened” western world. Obviously. The young girl though, is listening to *gasp* THE CHRISTIAN BIBLE on her iPod. When her father finds out he smacks her around, drags her outside and chokes her. I thought they were going to have him kill her, but obviously, since she’s turning to Christianity she’s not gonna die.
At this point in the movie, my mom booed, out loud. I was proud. There weren’t more than 10 other people in the theater, but she said she just couldn’t sit there and watch this demonization of Muslims. So yeah, the father kicks his daughter out for believing in Christ.
What I want to know, is how many Christian families have kicked their children out for being gay, or transgender, or hell, getting pregnant outside wedlock? How many Christians throw their children out for simply being who they are, not because of their beliefs, which are far more changeable than DNA? And yet this movie is going to demonize Muslims? Can’t they catch a break? This plot had no point in the movie other than to promote the idea that Christianity is the only correct faith.
The female characters in the movie were all demonized as well. Josh’s perfectly blonde fiancé doesn’t understand why he won’t just drop this philosophy class. She throws a fit about how this doesn’t fit into their plan, and if he gets a bad grade then there’s no way he can get into law school. Then she dumps him. Yeah, I don’t think their relationship was all that strong, or either of them were much in love if she’s gonna get pissy because he’s standing up for his beliefs.
The other woman in the movie is Amy Ryan. She’s an ambitious blogger who stands for animal rights. Some guy from Duck Dynasty makes a cameo when she ambush interviews him outside of a Church. Her interview is a little hostile, but not outright rude or anything. The guy starts talking about Jesus and love and Amy Ryan kinda scoffs and says “that’s it?” So we know she’s not really a believer. Guess what happens to her? This ambitious girl is diagnosed with a late stage terminal cancer. This obviously, leads her to the Christian rock concert where she slips backstage for an interview and the band prays for her.
Back to the terrible plot.
After Josh has made his argument and proven Professor Radisson wrong and all the kids in class have stood up and said God’s Not Dead, this professor is looking at his life choices. His Christian girlfriend left him; he was disgraced in front of his class, so he rereads a letter from his mother begging him not to lose faith and has this epiphany. He decides he has to go find his ex-girlfriend, and he knows she’ll be at this huge Christian rock concert. So he starts running there and guess what?
He gets hit by a car.
That’s right. The atheist of the film, gets hit by a car, gets his final rites given to him by a priest who’s part of a subplot so stupid I’m not even going to talk about it, and then dies. They kill the atheist and give cancer to the other non-believer. Because if you don’t believe in Jesus, you’re gonna die.
Or at least that’s what I got out of this movie.
Do you see what I mean? At Merriam-Webster’s website, the definition of propaganda is “ideas or statements that are often false or exaggerated and that are spread in order to help a cause, a political leader, a government, etc.” It becomes exceedingly obvious when at the end of the film, at this Christian Rock concert; they want the concert-goers to text God’s Not Dead to everyone in their phone. And at the end of the film, they want movie-goers to do the same. If I received a text that said “God’s Not Dead” I would not be friends with that person anymore. I don’t want to be friends with someone gullible enough to swallow this movie and its harmful messages.
Sidebar: one of the arguments that I found most offensive, when Josh Wheaten was trying to prove that God’s not dead, was when he spoke about moral compasses. He uses the Dostoyevsky quote “If god does not exist, everything is permitted.” Whether or not this was Dostoyevsky’s belief is a whole other debate, but the mistaken belief that people can’t be moral without God just enrages me. What kind of person are you that you need some sort of “Santa God” watching over you to make sure you do the right thing? If you do the right thing only because you’re afraid of going to hell and not because it’s the right thing to do? Then you’re probably not a very good person.
Oh! And one last point that my mom noticed. While there was a Chinese exchange student who discovered Christianity, and a Muslim girl who went to Jesus, there was no Jewish character. My mom was laughing as she pointed it out, because in a world where Jewish people have been chased out of country after country, the idea the Christians are the persecuted minority wouldn’t hold water.
In conclusion, God’s Not Dead is a horrible movie that teaches people if you don’t believe in the Christian God, you’re wrong. Atheists are just bitter Christians, Muslims are evil and so are Atheists. If you’re an atheist, you’re going to die a horrible death while all the Christians go to a rock concert. This movie only affirms extremist sects and uses fear tactics to turn other people towards Christianity.
This is the kind of film that gives Christianity a bad name and reputation.