God's Not Dead 2, the sequel to the 2014 film, is already getting some pushback from atheists. Earlier this month, actor and founder of Pure Flix David A. R. White spoke to the Blaze about the film's supposed "fake Christian persecution."
"It's an interesting thing, because, if it wasn't real, why do they get so offended by it? I don't think it would annoy people if it wasn't true. At the end of God's Not Dead 1 and even part two, we throw up about 50 different court cases that are dealing with similar issues right now."
It's true. During the closing credits of God's Not Dead 2, 25 different cases are scrolled, including the following.
- A case where two students at Georgia Institute of Technology were told to discontinue holding conservative and religious events on school grounds.
- A case where a Christian student at the Los Angeles Community College shared his belief in a speech class that he believes that marriage is between one man and one woman and the professor interrupted the speech calling him a "fascist."
- A case at Superior Street Elementary School where a student with cerebral palsy wanted to dance in the school talent show but was denied because the song she chose was too religious.
One of the biggest critics of the first God's Not Dead movie was George Perdikis, one of the founding members of the band, Newsboys, who are featured in both the first and second film and sing the theme song. Perdikis left the band many years ago and officially renounced Christianity and embraced atheism in 2007.
In a guest post for Patheos.com, Perdikis said, "Recently, the Newsboys were featured in the movie God's Not Dead. The movie demonstrated the pervasive attitude of Christians. They demonized everyone while giving a pass to their own particular brand of Christianity, making themselves look like fluffy white angels with perfect, synchronized lives."
Last year at the 2015 American Atheists National Convention, God's Not Dead was given the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment when Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu riffed the film during the conference's last day. With God's Not Dead 2 coming to theaters this Friday, expect more of the same type of criticism.
While God's Not Dead 2 isn't based on any single case (a teacher in trouble for discussing Jesus as a historical figure in the classroom), it is inspired by many other similar cases. For this movie, the teacher in question is Grace Wesley, played by Melissa Joan Hart.
"This is a very relevant movie for what's going on in our country and the world," Hart said in the film's press release notes. "There are a lot of Christians being persecuted, a lot of sacrificing the many for the one. We've stopped taking into consideration the freedoms this country was founded on."
"I felt very called to do this movie. And really excited about it," Hart added. "I prayed a lot over it. Had a lot of discussions with friends and family about it. And came to the conclusion that this is an important story to tell.
"I hope some people will come and find an answer here," she continued. "I know there's a struggle now with religion in public – it's not easy to talk about. But hopefully this opens up some conversations."
In the film, Grace is paired with a non-believing attorney, played by Jesse Metcalfe.
"I like bringing attention to the argument that rages on about the separation of church and state," Metcalfe said, who recently made headlines by stating that he himself found God while fighting alcoholism in 2007. "I think that's really interesting, that there are some great points on both sides of the argument. At the end of the day, the message of the movie is really freedom to believe as you wish to believe and not being too rigid in controlling how people express themselves. I think that's the foundation of our country and what makes our country great."
God's Not Dead 2 also stars Hayley Orrantia (The Goldbergs), Ernie Hudson (OZ), Sadie Robertson (Duck Dynasty), Robin Givens (Head of the Class), Fred Thompson (Law & Order), Maria Canals-Barrera (Wizards of Waverly Place), Ray Wise (Twin Peaks), and the legendary Pat Boone.
[Image via Pure Flix]