Review/Rant: God’s Not Dead – The Most Offensive Movie I’ve Ever Seen

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One of the best things about movies is their ability to create conversation amongst an audience of strangers. Movies that specifically tackle deep philosophical issues should inspire debate and conversation. I went into God’s Not Dead with the hope that it would have at least a frame of something, anything at all thought provoking. After all, this is a movie that at its core is about one of humanity’s most polarizing debates.

Unfortunately, God’s Not Dead amounts to an over the top piece of religious propaganda that will only appeal to people sucked into its message before they bought their ticket. In the process of actively avoiding subtext while delivering its propaganda, God’s Not Dead managed to become the most offensive movie I’ve ever seen.

The movie focuses on Josh (played by Shane Harper), a college freshman who finds himself at odds with his philosophy professor, Mr. Radisson (played by Kevin Sorbo). Radisson is an atheist who insists that all of his students refute the existence of God on the first day of class.

Screenshot_2014-03-30-02-27-35This is not an abstract experiment to demonstrate an idea or principle for sake of a philosophy lecture. It’s an exercise meant solely to feed Radisson’s ego. He’s depicted as arrogant and close-minded, forcing his worldview on students under the threat of poor grades. I would point out the irony of this happening in a class that’s subject is about the discussion of human ideas, but that would honestly be giving screenwriters Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon far too much credit.

After refusing to forsake his beliefs, Josh is assigned to “prove God exists” to the class. He’s given three opportunities to present his argument to the class in a mock trial format. These scenes are laughable as the presentations really only serve to beat the audience over the head with the hate-filled cruelty of Mr. Radisson.

Screenshot_2014-03-30-02-27-01As the movie progresses, Radisson devolves into an antagonist of cartoon super villain proportions. He’s overly arrogant and disrespectful of anyone’s views that clash with his own. He comes just short of outright assaulting Josh in the hallway as he threatens to destroy the kid’s academic future if he keeps humiliating him.

Radisson’s cruelty is played to the extreme as he ridicules and verbally abuses his Christian girlfriend; a woman the screenwriters are only too eager to show is his former student. Because the audience didn’t have enough reason to dislike the character, I guess we need to be beat over the head with shaky morals and misconduct to really lock on to how morally void this character is.

Mr. Radisson’s girlfriend/former student Mina faces a moral dilemma as she comes to terms with her boyfriend’s aggressive anti-religious rhetoric. To the movie’s credit, this plot line is the only one in the movie that comes close to the mark it sets out to hit. But still, the professor is so over the top and ridiculous that it’s hard to believe anyone would want to be anywhere near him in the first place.

Screenshot_2014-03-30-02-26-51The movie only gets more egregiously one-sided from there. Some of the supporting characters include an atheist blogger who’s diagnosed with cancer (it’s implied her lack of faith caused it). Then there’s her extraordinarily arrogant money-driven boyfriend (played by Dean Cain). His response to hearing that his girlfriend has cancer is cold and ruthless. “Couldn’t this wait for another day?”

Perhaps more disgustingly narrow-minded than the idea of atheists being all but pure evil in this movie, is the subplot involving a young Muslim student. She’s forced to keep her Christian faith a secret from her overbearing, intolerant and abusive father. The clear implication here is that the only other faith represented in the movie is inferior to Christianity.

Rounding out the supporting roles and providing some comic relief is Reverend Dave and his missionary friend who suffer divine setbacks as they attempt to drive to Disney World. The obvious contrast the movie draws between these supremely friendly and helpful characters and the cavalcade of hateful non-believers severely undermines the message presented.

All in all, this movie just isn’t worth seeing. The script is atrocious with unintentionally funny dialogue sprinkled throughout melodramatic situations that would put the likes of any Lifetime Original Movie to shame.

Oh yeah, one of the Duck Dynasty guys is in this movie.

Oh yeah, one of the Duck Dynasty guys is in this movie.

So why do I find it so offensive?

God’s Not Dead was produced by Pure Flix, a production company described by their website as “a Christian movie studio that produces, distributes, and acquires Christ centered movies for the sole purpose of influencing our culture for Christ.” So obviously it would have been foolish to go into the movie with hopes or expectations of any kind of objectivity.

If you’re a listener of The Obsessive Viewer Podcast, you’ll know I contribute to my cohost Tiny’s side-project The Secular Perspective and that I identify myself as an atheist. Though, I suppose “agnostic atheist” would be more accurate. I don’t personally believe a religious God exists but I recognize that the existence (or lack thereof) of any deity cannot currently be proven or disproven with 100% certainty.

Screenshot_2014-03-30-02-26-36It became very clear early in the movie that I’m not the target demographic. Pure Flix produced a movie that’s (rather unintelligently) designed to reaffirm the faith (and gain the money) of the devoutly Christian audience. That alone isn’t that bad of a thing. There are plenty of movies I don’t watch because I don’t fit the demo. God’s Not Dead, however, presents one side of the argument in a propaganda piece that shows the other side of the debate as nothing but villainous caricatures.

I sat in the theater insulted and appalled that I contributed to this movie’s box office earnings. What offended me the most was the depiction of the atheists in the movie. None of the non-believers I know in my life are anything like those featured in the movie.

The mere fact that the two sides of the argument are depicted in such a black and white, good and evil fashion closes the door to any kind of meaningful debate the movie could have otherwise presented. And it leaves me feeling insulted.

Spoilers Ahead

The movie makes the vast and sweeping assumption that non-believers turn to atheism because they hate God or resent God based on negative personal experiences. This is an incredibly ignorant assertion that proves there’s a massive shortcoming in the movie’s screenwriting.

At the end of the movie Mr. Radisson is hit by a car and attended to by Reverend Dave and his missionary friend. The scene is laughably bad as Radisson lies on his back in the street and the missionary instantly knows that the man’s ribs are crushed and his lungs are filling with fluid.

What offends me on a deep, personal level is that Reverend Dave immediately asks Radisson if he’s saved. Knowing absolutely nothing about the man he’s watching die, Dave’s first priority is to ask if the guy is saved. Screw making him comfortable or trying to keep him calm, Dave’s going to take it upon himself to witness to this dying stranger. Radisson spends the last moments of his life being preached to and asked to accept Jesus as his Savior.

Of course, being that this movie is religious propaganda, Radisson accepts Jesus. Granted, Radisson came to that realization a few scenes earlier, but the shots of him pleading for salvation and spiritual guidance is insulting to people who embrace secularism. It’s actually damaging to the supposed main purpose of the movie as well.

Screenshot_2014-03-30-02-27-09Does Pure Flix’s really think the best way to achieve their goal of “influencing our culture for Christ” is to create a movie depicting atheists as morally corrupt, despicable and vindictive people? The movie literally tells the audience to text everyone they know with the message “God’s Not Dead.” So why spend the entire movie attacking and insulting the group they apparently intend to “save?”

Yes, the movie does in fact end with a black screen with words telling the audience to text everyone they know with the message “God’s Not Dead.” Aside from the fact that a lot of annoyed people across the country are now at risk from getting annoying group messages and group replies, this irritates me more than anything else in the movie.

In the third act, Radisson asserts that religion is a disease. Josh explains that it’s not a disease, yet the movie ends with a plea that the audience spread the movie’s message in a fashion not unlike the spread of a communicable illness.

Reverend Dave and the missionary standing over Radisson’s dead body only amplified the sheer ridiculousness of the movie’s final moments. They smile, happy with the “great thing that happened” there. That’s an actual line that Dave says as he’s standing over the lifeless body of a complete stranger. Even more egregious is that they take the dead man’s cell phone so they can look in glee at the “God’s Not Dead” text message he’ll never be able to read.

Screenshot_2014-03-30-02-26-44My point here is that I just don’t understand why this has to be a thing. In many ways, the movie is asking its religious audience to behave the way its hate-filled antagonist behaves. Radisson aggressively pushes his agenda and worldview on his students. So the movie ends telling its audience to do the same.

Spoilers End Here

I don’t know a single atheist who would push his or her atheism on a person. I don’t know why this movie is hell-bent on presenting a blatantly inaccurate view of a personal philosophy except as a means to present their view in as “strong” a light as possible. It’s cheap and dishonest.

God’s Not Dead is clearly not meant to inspire conversation or debate. It exists as a vessel for religious people to spread their message among themselves and others while egregiously misrepresenting opponents of their worldview. In a lot of ways it does a lot more harm to its message than it does good.

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Being that this is a movie review, however, my rating is based on the merits of filmmaking. Unfortunately for God’s Not Dead and the movie-going public, the makers of this movie sacrificed story and competent direction in favor of a ham-fisted message that will only be heard by people who go into the movie with the faith that this movie so forcefully shoves down the audience’s throat.

Obsessive Grade: Don’t Even Bother

I was so offended by this movie and the fact that I paid to see it, that it compelled me to make a $20.00 donation to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. You can donate at the link below.

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If you’d like to hear more about my friends’ and my secular perspective on the world, you can check out The Secular Perspective podcast here.

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98 responses to “Review/Rant: God’s Not Dead – The Most Offensive Movie I’ve Ever Seen

  1. While I do agree that not all atheist force their opinions on others, some Do. I have on my phone right now a conversation in which I said “I will not try to make you believe in god, just please don’t try to make me disbelieve” as they forced their opinions on me. Also the cancer was not at all presented because she was an atheist. And third I agree with them making atheists villians wasn’t right, but the overall message to stand up for yourself and god I found good

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    • I would like to see this conversation in full context.

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    • While I love to hate this movie,I think what is most dangerous about it is the way it demonizes athiests and sets up an us versus them mentality. Quite frankly, I’m an athiest after being involved in churches and years of reading about religions. Don’t lump us all together as jerks who hate jesus, because most of us have nuanced arguments. If you treat us like people, maybe we’ll start having an honest discussion about religion, instead of this shit flinging across the aisles.

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  2. I’m sorry but I love this movie 🙂 if you don’t that is ok but I ask that as I respect your decision, you respect mine. While this movie you say made atheists seem evil, you made it seem like all Christians are air heads that only hear what they want. Thats not true. I liked the film, I liked the message, I understand the overdramatizing of atheism because really if they hadn’t, how good would the movie have been then? Whether its bs or not I loved it and it inspired me (no not to force Christianity on others) but to help the less fortunate through charities volunteering and working in the medical field. I saw this movie as not a advertisement but an act of empowerment. The fact that you didn’t is ok, I respect your decision. (keep in mind josh also said he respected that some people in the class might be atheists, and that was ok as long as they were given a choice). I’ll respect your opinion and your argument as long as you respect mine. (also I’m not as asshole Christian that is against homosexuality or abortions. Just because I believe in god doesn’t mean I believe everything. You don’t always have to pick one or the other. Believe what you want) thank you ! 🙂

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  3. best movies I’ve ever saw I started believing in God after I watched it I didn’t believe in God at all for a very long time it needs to be movies that make you think so you can believe again when my mother died is when I stopped believing in God my mother died a horrible death from cancer that movie made me think about my life

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  4. Any movie that David ar white makes I will watch cuz they’re good movies lot of this Christian movies on Netflix and it’s pure flix entertainment much better morals in on there than the crappy stuff you see on TV

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  5. I do see why it would be offensive that the movie appears to force its agenda down your throat, but I don’t believe that Atheism and Christianity should be compared on this topic. Since real Christians are convinced that a life lived without accepting Jesus will end in Hell, leaving a stranger on the ground without asking that question would have been way more damaging to good theology than skirting around asking if he is confortable. It would downright detestable in my view if someone is convinced that I am going to Hell for my ignorance and they hate me so much that they don’t bother to ask if I’ve been saved. I think if you’re convinced of something like that, it’s necessary to attempt to talk to others about it ESPECIALLY in their last moments.

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    • Hey, thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

      I must say, I vehemently disagree with you here, though and I really think your comment shows not only a lack of understanding of opposing viewpoints, but an unbelievable lack of respect for your fellow human being. Seriously.

      What you’re saying is that your personal belief supercedes the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of everyone else. It’s an obscenely arrogant position to put yourself in and harmful as well. If you’re lying in the street, bleeding out and slowly dying, why should your last moments be filled with someone proselytizing about a belief that doesn’t line up with your own personal philosophy?

      Seriously put yourself in that position. Ignore the implications of whether or not a person will go to Hell and imagine how much additional stress you would feel if someone started talking to you about Judaism or some other religion that’s not your own.

      “skirting around asking if he’s comfortable”

      I guarantee you that making sure someone in extreme pain, potentially breathing their last breaths is comfortable is far more important to that person and far more humane than asking if they’re saved. Asking about their religious beliefs and then attempting to convert them just adds more stress to the situation is such an appalling reaction to a traumatic situation, in my opinion.

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  6. I do agree that the last scene with him dying where there were asking if he was saved was incredibly insensitive; but as for considering all the other scenarios offensive…
    The movie is based off of actual events. I’m not saying everything in the movie happened exactly this way; but it’s based from universities discriminating against religious students; families hating their members after a conversion, etc.

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  7. this movie is not forcing anything on anyone. it is teaching people to not let anyone push you away from your faith and to stand up and fight for what you believe in even if it means sacrificing something you worked hard for.

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  8. If someone else can “push you away from your faith” it probably isn’t faith in the first place. The movie was condescending in the extreme towards anyone with a different way of interpreting the world. Sure it was a “Christian” movie preaching to the converted, but it was replete with decidedly un – Christian themes and therefore failed to spread its word.

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    • well Eliza, compared to comments i have either seen online, heard [either directed towards me or others near me as regards to their/mine Christian faith; I am sad to say that I find your comment disingenuous at best, a bald face lie otherwise.

      more and more nowadays, in public, in loud voices or even shouts, it has been fashionable to say the foulest comments possible, utilizing the foulest language imaginable, to ‘excoriate’ Christians themselves, Christian ideals, and anything and everything else that is Christian in any and all aspect.

      You neglected to state as to whether you personally fund the message within thi movie offensive, so I shall not make comment towards that.

      however, I personally, found the message found within this movie to be a very much needed “breath of fresh air”.

      so much so, that “crazy Uncle Joe” bought a number of copies of it, from a local outlet store and mailed them off to various members of my family.

      f course action upon my part engendered much resentment in many cases. laughter and amusement in other cases. out right hatred in a few cases.

      and appreciation in two cases.

      to me, those two cases made it worth my while. both the money I spent purchasing then mailing the copies of the movie, as well as the time I spent doing so. the time purchasing, addressing then mailing off the packages.

      I always seem to either read or physically hear about the “Jesus Freaks” who allegedly and public bother regular people. yet the only vicious public discussion I personally have ever witnessed has been very loudly proclaimed “atheists” cursing out Jesus Christ himself.

      never the Buddha. NOT EVER either Allah or Mohammud either!! [afraid of a rapid and violent on the spot jihad? ha ha ].

      singularly Jesus.

      I find this strange but accept the reality of my senses.

      as to whether yo are allowed to have your lack of belief?

      why OF COURSE you are!!

      ha ha ha

      when I served some rather arduous and quite robust military service, I after all, DID to uphold and maintain the Constitution of the
      USA!!

      that of course includes your personal fist amendment rights to either have or refuse t have a personal religion.

      oh well.

      so there it is.

      I typed way to much here. but felt that a reasoned and polite response might be salubrious to this convo as regards the reviewed movie. and yes, I{ still do watch it. Kevin
      Sorbo was most excellent as the hate filled, therefore hateful Atheist
      University Professor. who in my ignorance, seemed only to profess both hate and inability to allow their own 1st amendment rights to have a religion.

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  9. While I’d love to say that I read your whole article, it’d be a lie. I felt 10 times dumber reading it and had to stop after the “spoilers” section. you say you’re agnostic and you don’t really have an opinion, and that the athiests you know don’t impose their dibeleif on Christians, but to me you honestly sound like a defensive crybaby who got their feelings hurt. Every “atheist” I’ve come across in my life has been extremely hateful towards Christians and would be insulting to them and their “fictional” beliefs (you’ve heard that one, haven’t you). And about the Reverend and the dying Mr. Raddison. In Christianity, most believe that if you are not saved before you die you will spend eternity in hell. Obviously, being a Reverend and not knowing how long Mr. Raddison had left, his main concern was getting this man saved so that he could go to Heaven instead. He was more concerned about his eternity than how “comfortable” he was the last minutes of his time in this world. And even as a Christian, I did not see the atheist characters as evil or menacing by the end of the movie. It was uncovered that he, a lot like many atheists, turned his back on his religion because somethinf traumatizing happened to him. “How could God allow that?” And the best thing in his article. “The movie implies it is because she is an atheist that she has cancer.” Talk about unintentionally funny lines. The implication is that she does not have to go through cancer alone, NOT that her atheism is the reason she has it. Bad things happen to good people no matter the religion, but God will help you through anything you ask him too. I guess that’s all I got.

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  10. Offended? Grow a pair

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  11. God is a filthy dick sucker, case closed.

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  12. No one does more harm to Christianity than Christians. Compare your commenters here with Fred Rogers. Point made?

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  13. It’s about being able to have your own views. If you think no atheists are like this, then you are delusional. Oppression of religion shouldn’t exist. That’s the point of this movie. Of course an atheist like yourself won’t see it that way because you are too busy being offended. People should be able to believe what they want. End of story.

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    • FellowTraveller

      correct. that is wh in America , there is a 1st Amendment stating freedom for religious purposes. there is also a 2nd Amendment for weapons, to DEFEND, 1st Amendment right’s. I notice that the most aggressive Atheists are also most aggressive anti-gun individuals . almost in equal measure it seems to me. beware hate filled Atheists, many Christians DO believe in the right of self defense.

      I suggest you consider that fact, while you are trying whether you have the intestinal fortitude as concerns “putting some skin in your game” collective ahtheist marxism in general, or Jesus Christ hating type of Atheists.

      as for me? well just try to oppress me and my Christian religion and we will just have to see. I do NOT intend to allow anyone to oppress me nor my religion. as for what the evil Atheists type, in internet anonymity, I really don’t give a hoot. and that do be for sure.

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  14. Pingback: End Times Prophecy Headlines: July 29, 2016 | End Times Prophecy Report

  15. Mary Poppins is the most offensive film I have seen. It shows Mary Poppins manipulating Jane and Michael and not being nice to them. It therefore represents the idea of an adult treating children in a way which is unacceptable.

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