What Bothers Me About The Movie “God’s Not Dead”

In this trailer, a bitter reporter tries to entrap Duck Dynasty people.

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I have to talk about the box-office sensation “God’s Not Dead” which I just watched over the weekend with my sweet Aunt Sandi who has been raving about this movie since its debut.The arguments presesented in favor of Creationism were well done. Still, from practically the very first scene, I was worried.

I believe that those behind this film have only the best of intentions. But somehow, there is the least bit of deception illustrated here. It’s similar to what I felt after reading “The Shack.” Was this a wonderful book? Yes. Did it bring people to Jesus? I’m sure that God can use anything to his glory. But the same thing that bothered me about “God’s Not Dead” bothered me about “The Shack.”

Both stories are presented as being true (or at least a compilation of truth) when in fact they are both fiction. 

According to the Christian Post, the only true part of the story was when one of the minor characters in the film, a Chinese student, was based on a real person named Wing Mang was actually witnessed to by a college professor who led him to Jesus: http://www.christianpost.com/news/atheist-turned-christian-character-in-gods-not-dead-movie-was-inspired-by-real-life-harvard-educated-chinese-born-doctor-117336/. In the film, he becomes a Christian as well, but not because of his professor–in spite of his professor.

At the end of the film, there’s a list of court cases that are supposed to be roughly representative of the plot of the film.

None of them really are. This is so disappointing.

I think one of the things that bothered me most is the fact that I am a professor and so much about this scenario does not make sense. If I humiliated a student the way the instructor did in the film, I would be in the Dean’s office before you could say discrimination. It’s not only against the law to impose my religious beliefs upon my class, it’s against the law for me to threaten a student’s grade on something so subjective. There are procedures in place both for academic grievances as well as non-academic grievances. What the film discusses–a professor who threatens a student’s grade unless he can prove God is alive–simply would not fly. 

I believe that movies like this do little but foster fear within the religious right. It makes people afraid to send their kids to anything but private Christian colleges.  Conservatives don’t need anyone fanning the flame of fear–they are already scared! They worry our country is off-track–that we need to “take it back” (from whom, I’m not sure). They worry that The World wants our souls–and the souls of our children. The last thing they need to worry about is this idea that if they send their kids away for an education, they will come back indoctrinated by atheists and Satan worshippers.

Aside from the overt attack on philosophy and liberal arts professors, the movie also demonizes a Muslim father (when he finds out his daughter is reading the Bible, he hits her and throws her out of the home). Do conservatives need a reason to hate Muslims? Not really.

Also, the Christians in the film were REALLY GREAT PEOPLE and everyone else was…well, evil. Without fail!

I don’t have anything against Christian films. I always root for them! I want them to be good, to compete with other films in different genres. I want them to reach out to those who are curious about Jesus. I really, really want them to be interesting enough to intrigue non-Christians. Sadly, many times, Christian films are only liked and applauded by people who are already Christians and don’t need saving.

Come on, Christian filmmakers. I think we can do better.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2528814/

5 thoughts on “What Bothers Me About The Movie “God’s Not Dead”

  1. We have this old drive in near my home. Recently it was scheduled for demolition finally, and the local christian radio station came in and did a 2 weekend showing of this movie. My husband’s mother tried so hard to get us to go see it. Neither my husband or I are Christian (he fancies himself Agnostic, and I follow a religion that can be considered- by definition- Pagan) and we’re not really fond of Christian cinematography or media for the very reasons you outlined in your article… Not that it’s all bad. I myself personally really enjoy the movies “Saved” and another I have a really hard time recalling the title of every time… But I’m not fond of the way that they often portray non-Christians, as if the sole intent is- usually- to villainize them. It just rubs me the wrong way, personally… But after my husband and I watched the trailer we definitely decided not to see the movie. Like you said, there are protocols in place academically. The teacher would never have gotten away with something like that and while I know some Atheists can be raging [terrible word]’s… I know a vast number who aren’t, and who would certainly never so something like that. I don’t know why Christian cinematography always has to portray Atheists as the worst kind of evil- as if having no god at all is worse than something like rape or murder. It’s honestly disturbing to me and a trend I find too common. We didn’t directly see Islamophobia in the trailer, but hearing his mother describe the scene you talk about was also off-putting and felt very Islamophobic to us. All in all, from a Non-Christian perspective we felt there were a lot of problems with the movie and can’t understand why it’s being heralded as such an amazing one. It’s nice to run into a Christian who had somewhat the same take on the movie as us.It’s refreshing to know the whole world hasn’t gone completely bonkers, I guess.

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    • Thank you. I think they could have done so much better with a bit of effort! Reminds me of the bumbling “Left Behind” series that so many Christians seem to take as the gospel itself. Just bad scripting and a shameless effort to pick the pockets of well-meaning people.

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      • I really don’t understand it, either- both as someone who was raised Christian and stayed as such for a goo while, and as a non-Christian. It reeks of fearmongering, and honestly. What does the Christian Faith (or the conservative right) have to fear? In all reality, they rule the world religiously. More governments hold Christian leaders than any other religion in the world and Christianity is the largest world religion. There’s really no need for all the fearmongering but if you listened to them or their media, you’d think they were slowly fading away and losing some ridiculous and nonexistant war. I guess that’s what happens though when 1. society starts to shift, and 2. That shift leads you with less power when you’re used to being so socially and politically privileged.

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