by Neil Carter
Given that the first installment of God’s Not Dead only took $2M to make but grossed $60M, Pure Flix Entertainment decided to bless the world with a second installment, rather uncreatively entitledGod’s Not Dead 2: He’s Surely Alive. It takes place in Arkansas and centers around a fictitious teacher named Grace who had the audacity to openly admit her Christianity in a public school setting (The horror! In the Bible Belt no less!).
With the principal and superintendent teaming up with a zealous civil liberties group represented by an attorney with no love lost for God, Grace faces an epic court case with the help of sympathetic and charismatic defense lawyer, that could cost her the career she had always dreamed of — and expel God from the classroom once and for all.
The teacher, portrayed by Melissa Joan Hart, gets sued by an atheist student who couldn’t countenance an open demonstration of faith, and somehow she has the support of the principal as well as the superintendent (clearly the writers have never been to Arkansas). This scenario even puts the teacher on trial for her crime of openly speaking about Jesus. Just as with the previous scenario in which an atheist professor demanded his students publicly renounce their faith on the first day of class (You canread my review of that cinematic train wreck here), the writers seem to have no idea how educational environments work. I’m guessing they also have no idea how the First Amendment is supposed to play out in government sponsored spaces.
Christian movies like this exist because real life doesn’t sufficiently validate people’s persecution complexes. Something more dramatic is needed to justify their fears. That’s where outfits like Pure Flix come in. They exist to feed Christian paranoia stemming from the belief that even though they make up the overwhelming majority of Americans (doubly so in Arkansas), somehow they are being mistreated by having to let other people occupy the same space.
Well, something like this plot does in fact happen in real life, and it happened in my own classroom—except in reverse, and minus the dramatic courtroom scene (again, that’s not how these things work). Let me tell you a story. This one, by the way, isn’t made up.
Confronted By a Student During Class
A few weeks into my previous teaching job, a seventh grader confronted me in front of the class, asking me if it was true that I am an atheist. At this point in time I wasn’t open about that, but she was digging around my Facebook profile and found evidence which I had not yet realized could be seen by the general public. I knew better than to openly admit my atheism in Mississippi, especially since I had only transferred to this school to be where my own children were. I didn’t want to jeopardize that, so I dodged her question and said that I wasn’t at liberty to discuss my religious affiliation in class.
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