A few years back, I reviewed the Pure Flix movie God’s Not Dead. I was not too happy with it, and at the time I was unaware that there was going to be a sequel, much less two. I believe that all three of these movies are terrible tools for evangelization. Now that Pure Flix has actually made a “franchise” out of this trilogy, I have decided I should go back and review the other two movies.
Although this movie is billed as a sequel, it really has very little to do with the first movie. This time our main protagonist is not Josh Wheaton, but a high school teacher named Grace Westley. Josh is only mentioned in passing. Like the previous movie, this one has several different arcs, although much fewer and more tightly connected. The ones that don’t carry over now seem even more unnecessary than they were in the previous movie. If they weren’t going to carry over, why even have them in the first place?
Our story begins when Grace is talking with her class about Martin Luther King Jr. (coincidentally, it’s also the namesake of the school) When Brooke, a student she’s been consoling since the death of her brother, asks her about King’s own beliefs as a Christian, Grace affirms this. While this is going on, we see several students taking out their cell phones and texting to others, implying disbelief that a teacher would dare to bring up Jesus.
Brooke’s parents are outraged and even decide to get the ACLU to help them. This is one of my biggest problems with the movie. Despite what the right-wing propaganda people who made this movie want you to think, the ACLU is not some evil organization manned by atheists to persecute Christians. While they have brought cases against Christians (such as the infamous cases where bakers are sued because they refuse to bake cakes for same-sex marriages), the ACLU has actually helped Christians in many cases to defend their beliefs. The whole name is AMERICAN Civil Liberties Union. I used to believe they were the enemy myself, but ever since I left the “right-wing” Christian mentality, I have reexamined my beliefs and learned that they are in fact an organization that helps ALL Americans, not just those who attack Christians. If you want proof of cases where they have assisted Christians, here’s a link! Yet every time we see their lawyer, he just can’t stop making evil glares and smiles. It’s a wonder we don’t see the lawyer rip a puppy’s head off the way they want us to know THIS IS THE BAD GUY!
Another problem I have with this movie is a throwaway scene where the school’s principal actually tells a coach that he is not allowed to share a voluntary prayer with his team before a game. This is a myth that needs to die. We are still allowed to pray in school. Just because it’s not over the PA system (as it was in the “good old days”) does not mean we cannot. I prayed in school all the time, and was not harassed once. Most of the time, I did it silently, which by the way the Bible says is just as valid as spoken prayer. I wasn’t even harassed when I went to high school. And that same high school was two hours away from one of the most liberal cities in the United States! Praying in your head is always permissible, especially since no one else but God knows what you are saying in your head.
Pure Flix even uses this movie to stealthily promote one of its own movies that isn’t connected to this franchise by having Lee Strobel, writer of The Case For Christ appear as a guest witness during the case. He even gives a shortened version of some of the evidence in his book and the movie adaptation.
There are a few plot points from the previous movie that are brought up. Pastor Dave, who spent most of the first movie getting cars that didn’t work (and then accidentally killed the evil atheist professor), decides to serve on the jury. He does this because he’s learned that the government in Houston is asking churches to turn in their sermons. While this is an actual case that happened in real life, there is one key point the movie leaves out: the sermons were turned in because they were worried that the churches were using their position to influence the congregation to vote for a specific candidate. Church and state are supposed to be separate, or they lose their tax-exempt status. I totally approve of this idea. I believe that Liberty University, which has promoted a movie that wants you to believe that Donald J. Trump fulfilled some apocalyptic prophecy, should have to pay taxes because it is promoting propaganda and vying for political power rather than attempting to build up God’s kingdom. (Google The Trump Prophecy if you don’t believe me) This creates a cliffhanger after the closing credits, as Pastor Dave is being taken away from his church in handcuffs because he refuses to turn in his sermons.
Another plot point from the previous movie that is brought up concerns Martin. Martin was an agnostic Chinese student who was intrigued by Wheaton’s debates and decided to learn more about Christianity. Now, not only is he considering converting, he’s even decided to become a pastor in China. The movie doesn’t even consider to bring up how much difficult his mission will become, as China is intolerant of many religions, especially Christianity. His father attempts to stop him, but to no avail.
We also learn about the evil atheist blogger from the previous movie. In the first movie, she had been diagnosed with cancer, and the Christian rock group The Newsboys laid hands upon her and prayed for her, hoping that she would convert and receive God’s healing. This plot point really annoyed me because we learn that her cancer is in remission. As someone who suffers from a chronic disease (ulcerative colitis), I feel this is a disservice. God does NOT work this way. A lot of times, God’s answer to our prayers is “no” or “not yet”.
These movies are nothing more than blatant propaganda. They are not good movies at all. They seek to push an agenda rather than assist in evangelization. We are not meant to be paranoid that our beliefs are threatened, especially in a country that has freedom of religion in its constitution. We’ve had Democratic presidents for years, and not ONCE did they even consider doing away with this right. They know if they do, they will lose a large portion of their base who do go to church and vote for them (yes that’s right, there are Christians who vote for Democrats).
Next time, I’ll review the final movie in this trilogy, because I’m sure I’ll have problems with it as well.