Film Review: God’s Not Dead

If I could think of the most tortuous punishment to inflict on suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, it wouldn’t be waterboarding, nor castration nor even anal rape! I would subject my prisoners to this horrendous film for which the director, the producers and cast members should submit themselves to compulsory sterilization in order to avoid producing more of themselves!

This ‘film’ embodies the persecution complex exhibited by the Religious Right in the United States. Boys and girls, allow me to give you a history lesson.

America. Land of the Free, Home of the Whopper. The founding fathers of this country established the United States as the first secular republic. While Christianity was the predominant religion in the nation, the federal government would remain neutral towards all faiths, granting neither support nor objection.

‘Great Awakenings’ and Freethought movements have occurred repetitively in this country, sometimes simultaneously. Nevertheless, the government always remained secular. Surprisingly, for most of this nation’s history, Christmas wasn’t even considered to be a federal holiday!.

In the 1950’s, the United States was engaged in a proxy conflict with the Soviet Union. To differentiate ourselves from those godless Socialists, our political leaders promoted religion as an integral part of the American identity. Through the next decade, Christian-run private schools faced pressure from the government to desegregate themselves and open their doors to prospective ‘colored’ students.

Religious leaders reacted to those measures by propagating themselves as innocent, unassuming victims, persecuted by the big, bad government . They aligned themselves with the American conservative movement, which camouflaged its blatant bigotry with ‘libertarian principles’ that extol the ‘virtue’ of the free market. Thus, the Religious Right was born. And throughthe Civil Rights Movement, the aftermath of the Roe V Wade Supreme Court decision, the cultural acceptance of homosexuality, the surge in non-Christian immigration, and healthcare mandates from the ACA, the Religious Right never ceased its persecution complex.

The story revolves around Josh Wheton, a college freshman portrayed by Shane Harper. download (2)Josh enrolls into a Introduction to Philosophy taught by ‘Professor’ Radisson, an avowed atheist. On the first day of class, rather than handing his students a syllabis for the course like any other college instructor, Radisson coerces his students write ‘God is Dead’ on a piece of loose leaf and submit it for one-third of their grade. But you know what, guys? God’s not dead! And Josh Wheton, in his defiance to Radisson’s request, sets out to prove that God is surely alive!

‘God’s Not Dead’ is nothing more than a cinematic representation of those contrived intuition-albert-einstein-quoteschain emails and Facebook posts depicting a student ‘logically’ proving the existence of God to his bewildered professor.  The only thing missing from this film is the unraveling of the student’s true identity: Albert Einstein!.

Strawman representations and poorly-crafted stereotypes are prevalent in this movie.  You have your innocent, goody-two-shoes Church boy, your condescending, atheist professor, your vegan, SJW liberal blogger and her heartless atheistic boyfriend, your token Chinese kid, and your jovial African pastor.

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In Theocratic Iran, Ayatollah stone you!

Of course, your modern Christian propaganda flick would be incomplete without the oppressed Muslim girl (who’s really a crypto-Christian) and her abusive father who forces her to wear the niqab (the ninja-looking, face-covering garb), complementing her tightly-fitted, short-sleeved blouse (because obviously, the makers of this movie have never met a Muslim girl in their entire lives).

There are a billion subplots to this film which awkwardly fuse together in the last act. In addition to the war of words between Josh Wheton and Professor Radisson, there’s the internal struggle of the Chinese student caught between his communist upbringing and newly-discovered Christian faith, the liberal blogger’s cancer diagnosis, the banishment of the Muslim (Crypto-Christian) girl from her home when her hidden secret is revealed,

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Hi, we’re actually suburban yuppies but we act like this to pander to stupid rednecks

And we can’t forget the biracial bromance between a local pastor, portrayed by David A.R White (the producer of this colossal mess), and his African colleague!

Oh yeah, not to mention brief cameos from the Duck Dynasty guy. Yes, I’m serious……

By the way, if David A.R White looks familar to you, you might remember a younger-version of him from this classic late 2000’s internet meme below

Transcript:

*David A.R White’s character turns back*

“Hey Scotty”

*Scotty turns*

*With a creepy smile, David holds his fist up, threateningly*

“JESUS, MAN!!!*

*cue awkward, pseudo-inspirational soundtrack*

I was raised Catholic and I’ve seen my share of Christian movies. In terms of production value and acting, this film was on par with normal, Hollywood movies. Then again, most ‘Christian’ movies are shot in some guy’s basement with a few of his friends. This film, in contrast, was backed by a formidable budget and experienced movie personalities.

The soundtrack was deplorable! Then again, I’m not a fan of ‘Christian rock’ (an oxymoron if there was ever one). The opening scene was accompanied by the type of background music that’s supposed to be inspirational but, in reality, unintentionally prompts you to cut off your ears!

But despite all its innumerable flaws, this poor excuse of movie made a striking profit. Apparently, there are more right-wing, religious nutjobs in this country than previously estimated. This explains why Donald Trump is currently a contender in the presidential race.!  The only thing you can do is laugh at the face of absurdity.

 

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 **what really irks me about this film is its self-branding as a ‘Christian movie’. It would be an unforgivable offense to categorize God’s not Dead in the same league as classics including Ben-Hur , The Ten Commandments and Quo Vadis. Somehow, religious-themed cinema have regressed to this abhorrent monstrosity!  As I’d mentioned in another post, the purpose of religious-themed films is to deliver an uplifting message. In contrast, God’s not Dead left the cinematic equivalent of a bitter aftertaste

 

 

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