God’s Not Dead 2 Parent Review
This courtroom drama blows things a little out of proportion, but it does ask an interesting question: "If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"
“If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” That’s the sort of question that gets asked in a Sunday School class to motivate participants to reflect upon their personal expressions of faith. It really isn’t the sort of situation one would expect to face in a court of law, especially in a country that professes to champion freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Yet in this fictional movie, that is the exact predicament the main character finds herself.
Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart) is a high school teacher facing legal action because she mentioned Jesus and The Bible during a history lesson. It is true that Grace answered the direct question of a student (Hayley Orrantia) about the religious figure and quoted his words while engaged in a discussion about passive resistance. Gandhi and Martin Luther King were mentioned too, but it is only her comments about Jesus that the seventeen-year-old girl’s parents (Maria Canals-Barrera and Carey Scott) take exception to. Their outrage turns into formal charges against the teacher for “preaching and proselytizing” in the classroom. If found guilty, Grace stands to lose her job, her livelihood and her credentials.
The courtroom drama that follows might be accused of blowing things a little out of proportion too. While the scriptwriters claim to have used real cases for their inspiration (a list of their sources appears in the closing credits), some melodramatic elements have been included in this presentation, such as an evil prosecutor (Ray Wise), prejudice witnesses (Robin Givens, Natalie Canerday) and a biased judge (Ernie Hudson). Grace’s council (Jesse Metcalfe) is an inexperienced lawyer, creating a David and Goliath scenario. And when experts testify in the defendant’s behalf (like J. Warner Wallace who really is the author of Cold-Case Christianity), the witness box feels a bit like a pulpit.
However, the film’s good intentions are felt in the depiction of Grace. Despite being publicly judged, facing community criticism and even feeling like her God has forsaken her, this professed Christian holds onto her faith. With the exception of some verbal harassment and augmentative dialogue, the film is devoid of the usual content objections.
There is never any doubt how the trial will end—the title of the movie affirms its conclusion. And it is pretty obvious the film is preaching to the choir. (If you aren’t part of that group, it is unlikely this story will prompt you to change your tune.) Yet for sympathetic viewers, waiting for Grace to receive her miracle will provide some time to ponder a few personal questions like: What kind of commitment do I feel for the things I profess to believe? Does my conviction show? How do I feel about the statement, “God’s not dead”?Directed by Harold Cronk. Starring Jesse Metcalfe, David A.R. White, Ray Wise. Running time: 121 minutes. Theatrical release April 1, 2016. Updated August 16, 2016
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in God’s Not Dead 2 here.
God’s Not Dead 2 Parents Guide
How do you feel about religion in public schools? Is there an appropriate place for discussions about faith to occur? How might a policy enforcing only unbiased information to be presented be its own form of bias?
Is it possible to defend the rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech without having to allow others with opposing ideologies to your own to also be allowed to express their points of view? Why does a quest for tolerance and open-mindedness sometimes lead to intolerance and close-mindedness? Why do some ideas become old-fashioned and out of style, while other gain popularity?