Alex Songe pointed me to this interview with Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, the screenwriters for the movie God’s Not Dead. It might surprise you, as it did me, that they are both Catholic, not evangelical Protestant. I’m sure it won’t surprise you that they’re nursing a serious persecution complex.
Your movie depicts a young man resisting the ironically intolerant tolerance of secularism, an issue Catholics across the nation are certainly concerned about as of late. Have you gotten a positive reaction from the Catholic community?
Konzelman: Catholics are still largely unaware of the film, which is unfortunate.
Solomon: I think Catholics could learn a lot from the film. We feel this [point in time] is a “Boston Tea Party” moment for Christians, who are exasperated with being pressed upon and beaten down, and this movie kind of shows a positive example of resisting that trend.
Konzelman: The sentiment of Christians in this country is no longer “Don’t tread on me”; it’s “Stop treading on me.” That’s where we are. Our culture has become predominantly secular-humanist. We’ve largely lost that battle already, and, now, we’re just fighting for the right to be who we are in public life.
As always when I hear something like this, I’m wondering what country these people live in. It surely can’t be the United States, where it’s virtually impossible to get elected as someone openly atheist or humanist. And where legislators cite the Bible or the will of God as an argument for or against a public policy and almost no one bats an eye. Wherever this predominately secular humanist country is, I’d like to visit someday.
The movie chooses a really interesting place for a Christian to make his stand against secularism: a college campus. Why did you tell your story in this type of setting, usually thought of as one of the most anti-Christian environments in America?
Solomon: Well, for exactly that reason. When we started this project, we learned that about 65% of kids who are going into college as believers come out as nonbelievers. So what colleges are doing is they’re indoctrinating students and ripping away religion, making it seem “cool” to be a nonbeliever. We decided that someone standing up to this would make for a good story.
So it’s all based on a lie. David Barton tells a similar lie, only his is even bigger; he claims that about 80% of students lose their faith at college. But there is actual data on this and it does not support that claim, as FactCheck.org found when evaluating a similar claim by Rick Santorum a couple years ago.
But Santorum’s claims are off base. Those not attending college were more likely to stop going to religious services and to report they no longer had a religious affiliation than their college-going cohorts, according to data cited in a 2007 report published by the Social Science Research Council and unearthed by PBS. (We asked the Santorum campaign if this was indeed the report to which the former Pennsylvania senator was referring, but we have not received a response.)
The report said: “Contrary to our own and others’ expectations, however, young adults who never enrolled in college are presently the least religious young Americans.” Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the authors wrote, showed that “64 percent of those currently enrolled in a traditional four-year institution have curbed their attendance habits.” But the figure was higher for those not in college. “Yet, 76 percent of those who never enrolled in college report a decline in religious service attendance.”
On top of that, 25 percent of those not in college reported a lower “religious salience” than they did when interviewed in high school, while 19 percent of those attending college reported such a decline. Those not in college were also more likely to report they no longer identified with any religious affiliation: 20 percent, compared with 13 percent of those in college.
Ironic tidbit: That SSRC study being cited was co-authored by none other than Mark Regnerus.
We’ve been accused by some of creating a fabricated reality by having a virulently anti-Christian professor as the antagonist, who basically demands that his students reject Christianity. “This doesn’t happen in American universities,” people tell us. But that’s absolutely inaccurate, because, at the end of the movie, we list 35-40 cases showing how this assault on religious belief is an ongoing battle.
And not a single one of those cases is about what the movie is about. Most of them deal with questions of discrimination (I’ll have a longer post detailing all of this now that I have the full list of cases). Basically what they did was ask the ADF to give them a list of cases where Christians claimed to be oppressed and copied and pasted them even if they had nothing to do with a professor telling students that if they don’t profess to be an atheist, they will fail their class. Not a single one of them is even remotely related to that subject.
Why aren’t you two writing scripts for Catholic films?
Konzelman: It’s because there aren’t any. Catholics do not fund films. I cannot think of a Catholic film [made in Hollywood] of any size funded in the last five years.
Solomon: Which is really a sad reality, because the media is the most powerful cultural force, in my opinion. St. John Paul II knew that. Who was more powerful in shaping public opinion than Shakespeare, in his time?
When you really look at it, it all comes back to God and the devil. There’s a secret battle going on that too many people don’t see. And it’s behind the veil. The devil manipulates the media, and he manipulates intellectuals.
Well that’s certainly a great way to insulate oneself from ever having to think about anything, isn’t it? Anyone challenging your beliefs is an “intellectual” and therefore being manipulated by the devil. A perfect anti-rationality force field.