Review: ‘God’s Not Dead 2’ mocks secularism, warms hearts

Published: April 14, 2016

Review by
ROBERT ECKWEILER

Religious rights have been a topic of political importance in this country since its foundation, as evidenced by the First Amendment to the Constitution. After Supreme Court rulings such as the outcome of Roe v. Wade and the (much more recent) legalization of marriage for same-sex couples, many Christians feel somewhat threatened by the changing political environment. “God’s Not Dead 2” is a continuation of the expression of this fear.

Although several characters recur from the film’s predecessor, “God’s Not Dead 2” has its own independent plot, so fear not if you’re like me and haven’t seen the first one.

The film’s protagonist, Grace Wesley, played by former-witch Melissa Joan Hart, is suspended from her job as a high school history teacher for reciting passages from the New Testament during a lecture on nonviolent protest. Hilarity ensues.

The film’s secondary protagonist is a junior in high school named Brooke Thawley (Hayley Orrantia), whose brother was killed in an accident six months prior to the start of the plot.

She struggles with her loss and her incredibly insensitive parents. By happenstance, she recovers her brother’s Bible, full of marginal scribbles and sticky notes, suggesting deep interest. It is Brooke’s question regarding Jesus in her history class that gets Grace into hot water with the school board.

Grace is subsequently sued by Brooke’s parents, who are convinced to sue by a mysterious lawyer hell-bent on destroying pious individuals. Or something like that.

He’s in the first one, too. Grace’s attorney is the prodigious Tom Endler (Jesse Metcalfe), who is not himself a believer, or even moved by her cause, but vows to fight for her because he “doesn’t like losing.”

The film’s writing is somewhat sub-par. The non-Christian characters are caricatures of secular “rationalists,” and their arguments and opinions are for the most part made of straw.

The plaintiff attorney is so evil, in fact, that he describes the hate he feels for “people like Grace)” and chuckles as a character collapses from illness.

Those among the secular hoi polloi are depicted shouting at a group of high schoolers outside the courtroom who are in silent solidarity with Grace.

However, the topical aspect of the film is much better. Real-life experts are brought in to testify, as the film’s theological and political support, including a cold-case detective who in 2013 wrote a book about the existence of Jesus and was compelled by his findings to convert to Christianity.

In spite of a few very awkward and forced characterizations of secularity, the film was quite enjoyable. A subplot involving two bromantic (interracial!) pastors and their Prius will warm the cockles of your heart and make you wish they had more screen time.

It’s no “Mad Max: Fury Road,” but I still recommend seeing the film, and I advise watching attentively, so as to see the real value of what the film has to offer.

Contact the writer: robert.eckweiler@scranton.edu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *