Movie Review: “God’s Not Dead 2” – Here We Go Again

Written by Jesse Gelinas April 13, 2016

Melissa Joan Hart in God's Not Dead 2

Clarissa Explains It All about Jesus in God’s Not Dead 2

When you hear the word “war,” a lot of powerful images spring to mind. Trench battles along the French-German border, bombers flying over Japan, drone strikes in the Middle east, etc. But there is a group today who when they think of war, they think only of the spiritual oppression and persecution that American Christians face in their own country every day. It’s a sad, lonely, painful existence, full of blood and death, and hatred from all sides. And saddest of all, is that these poor people have no voice, no power to fight back. I mean, aside from an unsettling power to guide legislation, global influence over just about every realm of daily life, and millions of dollars to spend on films that paint a rather surreal picture of life as an American Christian. And that brings us to God’s Not Dead 2 (I never imagined this would be a series).

As with my review of the original film, I will do my best as a critic to view the film objectively. Pray for me.

In the same generic town as the first film a fresh attack on Christian belief begins. History teacher Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart) is approached by a troubled young girl after class. She comforts her student, explaining that Jesus gives her hope. This leads to the student asking a question about Jesus during class, which Grace answers in a long, rambling speech, quoting scripture and explaining the Heavenly rewards Christ promised. An offended student texts his parents, and Grace is soon suspended and sued by the ACLU. Partnered with an Atheist lawyer (Jesse Metcalfe), Grace must now defend her faith and prove the historical significance of Christ (which was never up for debate to begin with) against an anti-Christian lawyer named… Kane.

God’s Not Dead 2 also has a number of subplots carried over from the first film. Chinese exchange student, and fresh convert Martin Yip has 147 questions about Jesus that he poses to Pastor Dave. Pastor Dave and his colleagues are being audited by the government, and are soon forced to turn over the content of their sermons for judgment. Meanwhile, blogger Amy, another new Christian, has recently been deemed cancer-free after converting to Christianity. Yes, really. The Newsboys are also present again, with the sole purpose of answering the phone whenever Amy calls, even when they are on stage in the middle of a performance.

“They forget that the most basic human right is the right to know Jesus.” – The line that’s actually in the film

So, we’ll begin with the film’s strengths. It has a snappy title. One that doesn’t really lend well to a numerical subtitle, but whatever. Now, this title is just taken from the song that inspired it, so credit where credit’s due, The Newsboys get this one. Second, as much as I dislike Christian rock, the song (the same featured in the original film) is catchy as hell. However, it is marred by the fact that the Newsboys tried writing a new tune to match the film’s content and plot, using a number of courtroom buzzwords like “jury,” “verdict,” and “guilty.” Clever shit, guys. Thirdly… God’s Not Dead 2 did snag Ernie “Ghostbuster” Hudson for a supporting role, so bully for that.

Ernie Hudson as the Judge in God's Not Dead 2

How the mighty have fallen.

Now Ernie Hudson brings up my first point, which is that Christian cinema seems to be where has-beens go to die. Honestly, Kevin Sorbo, Dean Cain (fucking Dean Cain), Ernie Hudson, Melissa Joan Hart. It’s a who’s who of 90s mid-carders.And when they do get someone who’s currently “relevant” it’s the likes of the Duck Dynasty duded or (in this film) one of their kids. Basically the fundamentalist-Christian Kardashians.

“We are gonna prove once and for all… that God is dead.” – #JustACLUthings

The villains are all cardboard cutouts of characters. Much like the first film, where everyone who wasn’t a Christian was a hateful Atheist, every secondary character in this film is out to kill Christianity. The film tries to combat this by making Grace’s lawyer a “non-believer,” but he seems to convert about halfway through the film without saying anything. These Christians live in a world of constant persecution and ridicule. While Christian students stage a peaceful sit-in outside the courthouse, militant atheists scream in their faces. A random, and oddly detached subplot involves a group of clergy being audited by the government, forced to turn over their sermons for scrutiny. Only Pastor Dave stands up to this oppression. He is blatantly threatened by the clerk at the government office, and then… nothing happens. It’s never brought up again. Dave also miraculously ends up on the jury in Grace’s case, only to be removed due to appendicitis. This, again, goes nowhere.

David A R White in God's Not Dead 2

Pastor Dave, arrested for not allowing his sermons to be audited. This scene was in all the trailers, but not in the movie. Because, well, that would be silly.

The ACLU lawyer, Kane, is so wickedly evil and smarmy, I couldn’t help but root for him through the whole film. We must remember, as hateful and anti-Christian as the character is, his case is solid and correct. Grace was preaching in a public school classroom. I was certain after about ten minutes that Kane was meant to be revealed as the Devil in disguise, but this never came to fruition. It totally could have though. He had the evil glares, and wicked grins. His first scene is forcing a couple to sign a contract, with heavy focus on the pen in his hand. It would’ve been a great twist, but maybe I was watching the wrong movie.

“God’s not dead! He’s surely alive!”

Looking past the shoddy characters, the writing is just atrocious. There is a scene involving a retired homicide detective on the stand, explaining how he treats the Gospels like cold case eyewitness testimony to prove the existence of Christ. This scene goes on for six minutes, and is strangely even more preachy than Grace’s actual preaching. It’s self-indulgence cranked to eleven. While the concept is intriguing, the fact that the Gospels were written by different men in a different language hundreds of years after the fact kind of pokes a hole in their use as evidence in a courtroom. The big finale also tries to go for a kind of Primal Fear moment where Grace’s lawyer berates her about her beliefs in order to force her to say something endearing, but it’s just a sad attempt at drama. Still, it all gets a happy ending, Grace is found innocent, and a couple dozen students chant “God’s not dead, he’s surely alive!” just outside while Atheism around the globe dies. And then we get, that’s right, another Newsboys concert.

Ray Wise as Kane, in God's Not Dead 2

Ray Wise plays Kane, an anti-Christian lawyer who may also be the Devil.

Please, if you are a Christian who values your faith, stay away from this film. It is not worth your time or your thought. This is not a film about faith. It is a propaganda piece soaked in fear to play a collective victim card for an entire religion that does not need or (I hope) want it. Atheists are not out to get you. The government is not systematically trying to silence you. Converting to Christianity will not cure your terminal cancer. This is DANGEROUS thinking, and will lead to actual tragedy if taken seriously enough.

God’s Not Dead 2 ends with a number of cases listed that the film is allegedly based on. The one I managed to read before it passed involved a group of Christians being told to stop demanding the exclusion of a gay rights event on their campus. You know, tolerance, love, harmony. If this is the persecution being suffered by American Christians every day, I don’t know how they’d handle being literally any other faith, at any other time, in any other place in the world. You’ve got a pretty good thing going. Don’t screw it up with this kind of nonsense.

My Rating: 0/10

Poster for God's Not Dead 2

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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  1. well..THAT was preachy

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