What I Learned about Atheists from God’s Not Dead

BRACEToday the movie God’s Not Dead comes out on DVD, and thousands of church leaders will dutifully run out to purchase their copies to show to their churches sometime in the coming weeks.  They will enthusiastically watch it and gush about how wonderful the film is and how beautifully it captures their faith.  Because movies like this will provide the only depiction of atheism most evangelical Christians have ever seen, these stories are powerful for them.  They reinforce all the stereotypes their preachers have passed on to them, and by the end of the movie they will cry and cheer and obey the movie’s instructions to text “God’s Not Dead” to everyone they know.  If there’s one thing religion does well, it’s teach people to do as they’re told en masse.

There’s so much I could say about suffering through this glorified youth group skit turned feature length film.  Much has already been said by friends of mine and I could add far too much more myself.  It’s like the gift that keeps on giving (just like heartburn).  Even during my Christian days I’m certain I would have been nauseated by this terrible movie’s wooden dialogue, forced drama, and two-dimensional characters.  Even its original inspiration is beyond pathetic:  This story idea began as a variation of a couple of (now infamous) chain emails about a brave young college student who argued with his atheistic professor about the existence of God (“and that young man was ALBERT EINSTEIN”).  I’m going to resist the urge to quibble over the content of the debate itself so that I can stick to only two topics:  What I learned about atheists by watching this movie and what I think is the greatest iniquity committed by this pandering cinematic train wreck which, incidentally, sold out four weekends in a row in my hometown.  Unfortunately, people I love will view me through the lens of this movie, which makes responding to its portrayal of atheists a personal matter for me.  I’m not just lettin’ this one go.

Atheists Are Such a Pitiful, Miserable Bunch

God’s Not Dead portrays three or four primary atheist characters:  The pompous bombastic university professor (surrounded by a supportive gang of snickering atheist colleagues), a self-absorbed businessman, his snarky, condescending journalist girlfriend, and a stern Chinese father of an exchange student.  Observing their behavior, I learn the following:

1. Atheist professors are predatory, and they are out to convert everyone into ideological clones of themselves.  Clearly the concept of people committed to “freethought” and “liberal arts” is utterly foreign to the writers of this flick.  Ironically, while no secular university I’ve ever heard of would hesitate to fire a professor who demands a signed renunciation of religion from his students, I have heard of Christian schools which demand written statements of belief from both their students and faculty.  In real life only one of these two cultures threatens people with everlasting torment for not believing the right things, and it’s not the group being caricatured in the movie.

2. Atheists are selfish, self-absorbed, greedy jerks.  Dean Cain’s ambitious acquisitions shark is cold-hearted and callous to everyone he knows including his girlfriend, his sister, and even his own aging mother.  He won’t lift a finger for anyone who won’t first offer him something in return, and when his girlfriend discloses that she is dying of cancer, he brushes her off as an inconvenience.  His behavior is as despicable as the professor’s and clearly he has no heart at all.

3. Atheists are cocky, self-sure, and totally enamored with their own superiority.  Professor Radisson openly mocks the brave young Christian hero to his face in front of the class and in front of his colleagues.  But he doesn’t just do it to the poor freshman kid; he also mocks his own girlfriend (Do atheists marry at all in this alternate reality?) to her face at a dinner party while his atheist cohorts sip merlot and laugh condescendingly at her.  Truly cringeworthy.

4. Atheists will openly threaten you, bow up, get in your face, stare you down, and even chase you down a hallway and grab you to force you to listen to their angry diatribes because your faith makes them so angry!

5. Atheists are clearly incapable of love.  If you’re hurting or sick they’ll abandon you.  They cannot be inconvenienced with other people’s problems because as we learned in #2, they are only interested in themselves and what they can get from you.

6. Atheists lack ethical boundaries, so they’ll date students against virtually every university’s rules and then later remind them that the reason they liked them in the first place was just because they were hot (see #5).

7. They disbelieve in God because something bad happened to them.  See, since everyone is supposed to subscribe specifically to Abrahamic monotheism by factory default, the only reason anyone could wind up thinking there is no God is because of personal trauma and disillusionment leaving them damaged and spiteful.  And really, deep down they don’t disbelieve in God at all, but rather…

kevin-sorbo8. Atheists are angry at God.  You can just hear it in all of their voices.  They’re all so constantly angry (unless they’ve got an alcoholic beverage in their hands).  They only say they disbelieve but what do they know?  Poor deluded empty soulless people!  They only think they don’t believe but in reality they’re just angry at a God they really know exists.  Never mind if they say they don’t believe.  You know better than they do.  Bless their cold, empty deluded hearts.

9. Atheists are miserable because they believe life is meaningless.  There’s no point to life and nothing is of lasting value beyond their own lives, so you might as well just do what you wanna do and who cares about anyone else?  Even as I type this I can hear the voices of at least a dozen friends and family members who have sincerely asked me how I can have any meaning to my life or reason to get up in the morning because they can’t understand how I could have any.  This movie totally validates that for them.

10. Atheists have no basis for morality.  The brave young hero explained this for us toward the very end.  If there’s no God, then there can’t be any good reason to follow rules or be honest or do anything moral.  Come to think of it, it’s a wonder these atheists aren’t all murderers.

Just as an added bonus, I also learned from this movie that Muslims beat their children while Christians show everyone endless patience, kindness, understanding, and empathy (excepting only the young hero’s shallow girlfriend who inexplicably dumps him for being heroic I guess).  I also learned that if a car won’t start you can get it to run by praying for it, provided that you believe hard enough that your prayer will be answered.  Furthermore, I learned that most difficult life decisions can be solved with a Bible citation.

Perhaps above all what we learn from God’s Not Dead is that college is a threatening place.  It’s a scary place where the bad guys are the educators.  Just let that sink in for a minute.  Just like in that notoriously fabricated chain email, academia is a threatening place where you go to have your beliefs attacked by evil professors who want to force you to give up your cherished beliefs.  Surely that is a healthy approach to higher learning which will help advance our common endeavors as a society, right?

The Chief Failure of This Film

In the end the central injustice of this movie is its failure to fairly represent a class of people whom Christians purport to love.  But it’s not loving people well to misrepresent them this badly.  This movie caricatures, dehumanizes, and depersonalizes people like me, portraying us in the worst possible light.  How could I not find this movie disgustingly offensive?  Every single atheist in this film is a spineless, uncaring jerk.  This is how you love someone like me?  You made atheists the bad guys!  And not even complex bad guys.  You made us two-dimensional cartoon villains who rub our hands together menacingly, tweaking our pencil-thin moustaches above our sinister grins.  Children should be afraid to come near us.  Employers should think twice before hiring us. And clearly women should steer clear of dating us because obviously we lack hearts.

This is not love.  You cannot love people while ignoring everything they tell you about themselves.  You are not loving people when you refuse to listen to their stories.  You are not loving them well when you decide before hearing them that you already know all that you need to know about them, overruling their own self-descriptions and self-identifications because you are convinced you know better than they do what’s going on inside of them.  When you continually speak of people in terms to which they cannot agree, you are not showing them respect or validating them as real people.  This movie represents a grievous failure to love people like me.  If you watch this and then beg me to go watch it as well, it tells me that in some way you accept its presentation of what I am like even though I’m telling you it’s not accurate.  If you say you are to be known by how you love, then this should upset you.  The words may be there, but the thing your words promise is not.

So if you are a Christian and if you are able to make it through this film without cringing at the stereotypes and misrepresentations it presents, I cannot imagine you will be able to see me for who I really am or relate to me in any way that is based in reality.  If you harbor such a grotesquely caricatured straw man picture of what I’m like, then I dare say you won’t be able to hear a word I’m saying.  If this movie doesn’t irritate you the way I know it would have irritated me when I was a Christian, you need to spend some time getting to know real flesh-and-blood non-believers.  I’ll wager you wouldn’t ordinarily have much motivation to do that (except in order to engage us in debate).  But someone you love may be an atheist, and I’m trying to warn you that as long as this movie doesn’t make you nauseous for all its misrepresentations and clichés, you aren’t gonna love your loved one well.  You’re going to need some real conversations in which you ask some sincere questions and let your loved one tell you about themselves and their own thought processes without trying to cram what they say into a pre-conceived doctrinal grid.  Is loving them worth that to you?  Are you secure enough in your faith to even have such a conversation with someone like me?

A pastor once invited me into his church in order to interview me in front of his whole congregation for the Interview an Atheist at Church project.  I felt like it was a great conversation.  A portion of that talk can be found below.  It made the rounds a little over a year ago, and if you haven’t seen it before, please give it a look.  I gave this talk nearly a year before the movie came out and I could swear it’s almost as if they took each thing I said not to do and put that on their to-do list in the film.  At any rate, here’s the short version of that talk.


 

One more detail I must add. [***Spoiler Alert***] I originally titled this article “God’s Not Dead, but the Atheist Sure Is!”  Because in the end they kill off the atheist.  Are you kidding me?  Could you be any more transparent in your wish fulfillment?  In the end, most of the atheists see that the Christians are really the ones who are right, and they convert. But it takes getting hit by a car for the antagonist to see the error of his ways.  He prays the obligatory prayer that Evangelical theology teaches is required for salvation as he lay there in a pool of his own blood.  And as he’s choking out his last breath, the preacher who miraculously showed up at just the right moment to lead him in this prayer (but not a moment earlier so that he could have maybe prevented his getting hit) smiles and says:

It’s alright.  In a few minutes you’re gonna know more about God than I do.

I’d like to say that comforted the poor dying former atheist (or was he even that, really?) but it was hard to make that out between the gurgling sounds and pained expressions.  But judging by the swell of music this was supposed to be a kind of happy ending.  I know they’ll say it’s because now his soul is safe in death, but I can’t help but think of the joke the dog tells in the movie UP:

A squirrel walks up to a tree and says, “I forgot to store acorns for the winter and now I am dead.” Ha! It is funny because the squirrel gets dead!

This ending is happy because the atheist gets dead.  He “gets saved,” of course, although not in any sense that’s measurable.  And the atheist girl who gets cancer “gets saved” as well, although not from the cancer.  Even the Muslim girl “gets saved” although her dad still won’t look at her because of his religion.  But now all of these people think correctly about a narrow field of topics, so they’re approved.  Happy ending.  Now go text everybody.

 

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    The film sounds like an effective vehicle for reinforcing anti-atheist bigotry. I’d guess that wasn’t accidental. I imagine it will be quite popular here in Mississippi.

  • Deanjay1961

    This movie will backfire on them in the long run…and we’ll still have their FB comments about how great a movie it is.

  • Lynn Kitty Frey

    I need to see about watching this film, now…

    …mostly so that if I hear people talking about it, I’ll know exactly what I’m dealing with.

  • Jim Jones

    “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was better written.

    Or apparently Henry Ford thought so.

  • Eric Peterson, MSOD

    I think any film with such a blatantly naked agenda would suffer from wooden dialogue and two-dimensional characterizations. The best art is created by those who are struggling with a question, not those who think they have the answer. I’m an atheist myself, but I’m fairly certain that a film dedicated to exposing the intellectual superiority of secular people, that treated all believers like hypocritical morons just to make a point, would be equally awful.

  • Deanjay1961

    When I was a Christian, I wouldn’t have been too happy about how it makes Christians look, either.

  • TheSquirrel

    “The best art is created by those who are struggling with a question, not those who think they have the answer.”
    That is a lovely way to put it! Thank you ^_^

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    I don’t trust people who think they have all the answers. I trust people a lot more when they’re willing to explore the questions.

  • Jessica Stoyko

    I wondered why I got one of those messages about a month ago. Didn’t even recognize the number. Creepers.

  • Samantha

    Might I suggest the hashtag of #HeJustWentToLiveOnAFarmUpstate

  • wil9000

    One of the hardest things to get across to evangelicals who are trying to “save” me, is that there is a huge difference between their belief that I don’t believe “in God”, and my belief that there is no god to believe in in the first place, so I can’t hate god, or be angry at god in the first place. May you have better luck than I have had.

  • Swoozy LemNhed

    I’m so afraid to “come out” in the small Georgia town I live in…my boss told me God spoke to him and told him to hire me…I shudder to think what would happen if I told them I was not a Christian, or believer in God…lol

  • Max Supernova

    I’d save that for the day you quit. “Looks like God’s been messing with you a bit.”

  • wtfwjtd

    Sounds like this tune from the 5 Man Electrical Band applies in your situation:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYsBDmqJfjQ

  • bananafaced

    I haven’t seen the film and I have NO wish to see it. From your description it sounds as if most of the really despicable Atheists are ‘men’. Atheist women should have equal time, right? And, if you are really, truly Christian, this film might be so ‘anti Atheist’, emotionally speaking since it doesn’t sound like the film gives any factual basis for its story line, that you (a good Christian) would never want to be in the presence of an Atheist for fear of getting ‘Atheist cooties’. That’s how silly it sounds. Looks like my original thoughts about this film were spot on. BTW, what’s Superman (Dean Cain) doing in this film? When I talked to him at Starbucks in Lancaster, CA he didn’t seem like the overtly religious type.

  • Deanjay1961

    A movie with Superman and Hercules should have been awesome, eh?

  • wtfwjtd

    Yes, it should have been, but in a good way. Ah, life’s full of disappointments…

  • MorlockSlayer

    I’ll never be able to watch Kevin Sorbo or Dean Cain in anything again without thinking about this movie. Not that I ever thought either of them were any good in anything they’ve ever done. It’s nothing more than christian propaganda and they owe us all an apology, which is something they’ll never understand.

  • Razor

    Dean Cain is a right-wing asshole, so no surprise he’s in this. As for Sorbo, I’m just gonna hope he missed a royalty check for Hercules.

  • David Andrew Kearney

    That’s interesting, because I remember him from Broken Hearts Club, which was a gay-themed movie from back in 2000. I wonder what happened — or if he just needed a paycheck at the time.

  • http://www.panoramaphotographer.com/ thatkeith

    A good, well-considered article, and a *very* well-stated set of points in that video. Eloquently, calmly and kindly handled. Thank you!

  • http://www.detroitrugby.org DarkHorseSki

    I love these movies because it really shows just how un-Christian the Christians are, even if they are too religiously befuddled to understand it.

  • Swoozy LemNhed

    I love how you point out a professor (and just about anyone) can be fired for forcing someone to sign something renouncing religion, while people are getting fired all the time of they don’t sign something demanding they believe in the magic unicorn…

  • Al Willig

    I’m not sure why, but I’ve never gotten an ounce of crap when I’ve told people I’m an atheist; perhaps because most of those people already know me. I guess I wasn’t even aware that there was such bigotry towards us until just recently, but I suppose that makes sense.

  • Razor

    Atheists are, statistically, the most hated group in America. Rapists have higher approval ratings. Because we live in the stupid country.

  • Al Willig

    Well, then I must be doing a LOT of other things right…or people are afraid of me.

  • TheSquirrel

    Certainly they don’t want you to put a satan curse on them or eat their babies…

  • Al Willig

    I don’t believe in Satan and I’m a vegetarian.

  • TheSquirrel

    …It was a joke…

  • Al Willig

    yep, right back atcha…as if someone who wasn’t a vegetarian would eat babies.

  • TheSquirrel

    Lol Now I’m picturing a vegetarian eatting a cabbage patch kid!

  • Al Willig

    Now THAT’S funny. Perhaps you could put Satan horns on the vegetarian…that’s me.

  • TheSquirrel

    Oh man I’ve gotten laughter tears on my keyboard I’m laughing so hard!

  • Mike Bennett

    We should be very wary of the kind of dehumanisation of the “other” and reinforcing of grotesque stereotypes, which you and others have described are in this film. Historically whenever people have done this, it hasn’t ended well.

  • WingsThree

    I just have to hope that most Christians will see this garbage for what it is. The reviews I’ve seen elsewhere thoroughly trash it.

  • Margie

    One positive that can happen for some believers, anyway, might be what happens when young people do go to scary places like a university and meet people who turn out to be with, say, the Secular Student Alliance–in other words, they meet real live non-believers and find out that their church and family have lied to them about these people. Then they wonder what else they’re been led to believe that’s that wrong.

  • StealthGaytheist

    Some do, but others see the varied perspectives and challenges to their opinions as persecution.

  • Ro

    This is why movies about ourselves and other’s lives are important, especially as a parent. We need to open up the discussion to talk about life and differences, and being confident in our what we believe without belittling or being accusatory or insulting to others who believe differently. If we, or especially our children, never see anything different from what we believe, it becomes very difficult, maybe impossible, to refute other beliefs politely but confidently.

  • Guest

    I agree with this article and the attitude/beliefs that Christians have about atheists. I myself am a Christian, but I am not deluded by the brainwashing that goes on within the church. I have atheist friends…friends that I love and they love me back. I pray for them when they are sick or in distress, but that isn’t the only thing I do which is where I also part from a vast majority of the church. I haven’t seen the movie but I’ve lived it for the last 42 years that I’ve been a member of the church and this author is right in that churches do tend to put atheists in to these categories. Where I differ from your average Christian is that I tend to follow the teachings of Christ – the words he actually said not the interpretations given by others. My political views follow His instruction which puts me at odds with 95% of the current church population. I try to love the very people that the church condemns and only acknowledges when the “convert”. It’s not my job to change them…my job is to love them. I just wanted all of you to know that not all Christians buy in to what this movie is selling. It’s meant to make Christians feel good about their faith and strengthen it I suppose but to me it sounds shallow. I buy into Christ and what I believe he did for me and what he says to do for others and above all else it’s to love (which does not includes judging) the ones that the church of his day (and ours) said were the unloveable.
    .

  • Susan Elise Walker

    Absolutely agree with you 100%! I am a Christian too but not like many of them. I try not to judge, correct myself (when I find myself not giving the benefit of the doubt/jumping to conclusions), live an honest life, love everyone, find the best in others, care for those who need it most and are sometimes the hardest to love, and respect others’ rights to have their own beliefs. Some of the most caring, compassionate, giving people I’ve known have been atheists or agnostics. Some of the most hateful, judgmental people I’ve known have been Christians–especially those who wear it on their sleeves, so to speak. My goal in life, just like that of many Atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, etc., is to be KIND. To love. To be peaceful. Isn’t THAT what should matter in life? Why are so many Christians convinced that they have it all figured out?

  • Evie

    Lol. You aren’t judgemental? Yet go on to judge other Christians and speak pridefully of yourself. Got it all figured out, haven’t you?

  • Kafka0622

    Why are you so very bitter?

  • TheSquirrel

    Hypocrisy does tend to taste a bit bitter. One reason I can’t stomach Christianity.

  • Susan Elise Walker

    I didn’t say I was perfect; I said my GOAL is to be kind, to love, to be peaceful. I am a work in progress, as I would hope is the same for many Christians, Atheists, Muslims, Buddhists–mankind in general. Also, I didn’t ask why “ALL” Christians are convinced they have it figured out–I said “so many.” I have heard some of the nastiest, most hateful, judgmental, and closed-minded remarks from so-called Christians. I get tired of them attempting to shove their beliefs down non-believers throats. (I love God! My love for Jesus is beyond words. But, for me, if you tell me you’re an Atheist, I respect that and leave it alone. I know my preaching isn’t going to change you; if anything, it’s likely to turn you off from Christianity. I will still love you, think just as highly of you,)

    I have personally seen an entire congregation treat my physically and mentally ill (yet polite, friendly, non-violent, compassionate) brother as if he had Bubonic Plague–at a CHURCH FUNCTION. (The same guy who gives up a good portion of his very limited social security income to third world charities, Toys for Tots, you name it. Yet an entire church of Christians could not treat him as if he existed…unless it was to look him up and down and scowl because he didn’t look like them.) On the other hand, the only thing I have heard and seen from my Atheist friends is acceptance, and open-mindedness towards others (homosexuals, other races, homeless, the mentally ill, etc.). I know many, many Christians who live as Christ intended, and those are the ones who make me incredibly proud and reinforce my beliefs. They’re the ones I aspire to be the most like. The ones who make me sick are those who jump to conclusions, assume the worst, judge everyone whose beliefs are not in line with theirs, and yet still think they automatically have a 1st Class ticket into Heaven because they show up at church every Sunday. So yeah, kindness, compassion, love, consideration, generosity, open-mindedness? I may not be all of those things 100% of the time, but I do my best every, single day. So yeah, as a matter of fact, I do think I have it all figured out. As the Dalai Lama so eloquently said, “I don’t have a religion. My religion is kindness.”

  • grumpy_otter

    This atheist thanks you for your open mind! I have often said that if all Christians really followed the words attributed to Jesus, the world would be a great place!

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    Spot on. (For other commenters, I’m the woman who confronted her own professor in college, an incident mentioned in this piece.) One of the things that really messed with my head was meeting real live non-Christians in college, especially atheists. My ex-husband had a huge burden for them, so I got to know quite a few. They weren’t like how my church taught about them at all. Before that indoctrination could take hold, I already knew that atheists were just like anybody else–with morals, reason to live, everything. In a way that made deconverting so much easier; I didn’t have quite so much worry about “OMG I’M ABOUT TO LOSE ALL MY MORALITY” that I know some ex-Christians face. It’s hard to revile and hate people you actually know.

    But the weird thing is, I don’t remember any particular, singling-out demonization of atheists. They might have been reviled and hated, but not with particular ardor. This was the 80s and 90s, and we were a lot more worried about the groups we viewed as the major threats against our way of life: Wicca and Satanism. Now atheism is viewed as the big boogeyman threatening Christianity, so it gets the full attention of the Christian marketing machine. That’s why the show-boatiest Christians now claim ex-atheist backgrounds; back in my day, those same folks would have been claiming to have been Wiccan Satanist high priests. (Yes, yes, I know.)

  • grumpy_otter

    Great insight! I remember the 70s, too, and you are so right that “atheist” hardly seemed like a thing then. The evils of D & D were far more prevalent!

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    Oh my gosh I wish I still had the anti-D&D tracts my mom brought home from work one day. A co-worker had given them to her and it just panicked her that her little baby girl might be involved with anything they described. Obviously, I wasn’t participating in orgies or murdering anybody or at any risk of schizophrenia as a result of losing my ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality (yes yes, I know), but she was still pretty spooked. She made me and my sister watch Mazes and Monsters and the discussion panel that followed it on TV. It was one of the most excruciating memories I have as a kid. And yes, most of the showboating Christians I heard included D&D as part of their pre-conversion sins.

    Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

  • wtfwjtd

    Ouija boards! Don’t forget Ouija boards! At least in the area I grew up in, these were more dangerous to leave lying around children than loaded firearms. You are absolutely right, in that era the only atheist that we knew of was that nasty woman that (gasp) got prayer taken out of schools. It was the Satanist high priests that were the real evil, as atheists were mostly just a thought experiment, nobody was really an atheist, they just said so ’cause they were secretly angry with god.

    Ah, good times…that robbed me of most of my childhood.

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    I didn’t know anybody who wasn’t Christian till college. When I began deconverting toward the end of my college years, I was the only one I’d ever heard of who’d left the religion. I felt so alone. Now we’re a lot luckier–ex-Christians have entire websites, there’s social media, and there are many people in most communities who publicly identify as atheist and/or ex-Christian.

    Ouija boards were sooooo spooky and scary! I had a weird experience with one myself as a kid–found one in the forest amid some animal bones in the bole of a tree and brought it home with my sister and we played with it a bit, and my dad (who had a bit of a temper problem in the same way that fundagelicals have a bit of a hypocrisy problem) totally freaked out, threw this utter bender, and told us to throw it out. We took it back to the forest and buried it. When we returned, he was totally fine, drinking beer and watching TV, and claimed he didn’t even remember his freakout at us an hour earlier. My sister and I were so totally weirded out by this incident. PROOF, I TELLS YA!

  • Dave Kennington

    Great Article!

  • http://jehoshuathebook.com Garrett Glass

    This movie was more like a cartoon, with its exaggerated characters and simplistic dialogue. In fact, the basic plot is taken from a cartoon – a Chick Tract from 2002. You can save yourself some time, spend three minutes reading this Chick Tract, and you can give a pass on the movie altogether.

    http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0055/0055_01.asp

  • Razor

    Let’s not insult cartoons by comparing it to this hateful propaganda.

  • StealthGaytheist

    “He won’t lift a finger for anyone who won’t first offer him something in return, and when his girlfriend discloses that she is dying of cancer, he brushes her off as an inconvenience. ”

    IIRC, Pat Robertson had a caller whose wife had been diagnosed with cancer. Robertson told the man to divorce his wife and get on with his life.

  • http://xakana.wix.com/hs-kallinger Heather Kallinger
  • StealthGaytheist

    Ah, thank you.

  • Taylor Daniel

    I’m thankful for this post. I am an evangelical living in Memphis, TN and growing up in this culture my whole life. I am also a Jazz musician and I think one thing this post correctly points to (without explicitly mentioning it) is the crisis of poor quality art produced by many Christians in the US today. It is often driven more by marketing easy answers to people whose chief concern is lifestyle rather than truthful discussion, as opposed to welling up as overflow from the message of the Gospel. I have many atheist/agnostic friends, gay friends, etc. It’s important for Christians to realize it is not their responsibility to save anyone, that is God’s place. We are called (freed up really) to love people in our lives, through actions, being there, and honest discussion. We don’t need caricatures, we need dialogue. And we should be free to admit, since we are saved by grace outside of ourselves, that atheists can be wiser and better people than us in many aspects. It’s never been about performance! Bless you, brother.

  • grumpy_otter

    Thanks for the thoughtful post! As an atheist who has far too often heard “Why are you angry at God?” it is nice to know there are believers like you out there who are interested in a conversation, not conversion.

  • Mike

    Unfortunately, the majority of Christians view atheists either as non-persons or as some sort of religious conquest. Regardless, I appreciate your post. Keep up the good work :D

  • Ro

    Most movies are based on exaggeration of some sort: violence, sex, crime, beauty, disability, religion. At what point did we start believing they portrayed reality? The ones I notice most are about adoption and foster care (especially kids’ movies) as they pertain most to my own family. In fact, they are often fodder for humor (“We’ll put you up for adoption if you keep this up.” How does that threat make my adopted children feel?) I think debating movies for the sake of learning from each other, and introspection is awesome! But it makes no sense to attack them because they misportray an event/belief/fill-in-the-blank. If all movies were based solely on truth you would see the entertainment industry plummet. I’ve seen God’s Not Dead and also immediately thought atheism was mis-represented. Talked to my kids, who also watched it, about it also. And this is why it’s important, it gave us cause for conversation and debate, and questions to ask of ourselves. In this case, how far would WE go to stand up for what we believe in?

  • Dominic

    Lol, I’m not atheist, but I follow no religion. All I have to say is there are assholes everywhere, no matter what belief they have. I choose to keep an open mind. Atheists just don’t believe in god for many reasons, not just because they’re mad at god. Everyone is different. But to be honest, a lot of Christians have it so in their head that if they follow the bible then you’ll get a free ticket into heaven. Now do you think god wants you to do those things because he says to? I would think not, I choose to do good simply because I like it and I like letting people know there’s people who care. I don’t let some book tell me how to live my life. I get along with everyone despite their religion. Who are you to judge what someone else believes in? You have no idea what they went through, but honestly you’re letting your religion turn you into a stuck up close minded asshole.

  • Matt G

    For the record, to not believe in God because you are mad at him is blatantly nonsensical and would require superhuman levels of denial. Remember that the burden of proof lies with the believer. Look up Russell’s Teapot.

  • Dominic

    If your god is really the way the bible says… he is shaking his head at this article. It is sad to see such ignorance, and so much hate towards a group simply because you watched a movie.

  • Dominic

    Perhaps having religion crammed down your throat by people who did awful things to you would make you more open to the fact that it’s all bull shit.

  • http://rosarygirl1962.blogspot.com/ Ellie Ravinsky

    Fantastic article, I’m passing it on.

  • XaurreauX

    They’re so insecure about their “truth” that they have to lie to protect it.

  • Winking Corn

    One thing that interested me was just how unBiblical the guy’s girlfriend is. She dumps him because she has his whole life planned out for him, and his failing this one class will ruin that. Or something like that. However, her proper position was to be supportive of him, and follow his lead, and how he’s supposed to be the spiritual head, and all that other jazz. Granted, you could make the argument that this is only after marriage, but it’s not a good sign that she’s the one being the decider. I’m sure that this is a subtle jab at modern women who think they deserve the same rights and ability to make decisions despite what the Bible says.

  • Heretic (apostate of FSM)

    This movie is naked, malicious, and disgusting propaganda. If you walked away from this one in agreement with the venomous lies which it spewed out, then you don’t deserve the privilege of living in any free society!

  • Guest

    Wait, what? Are you saying people who enjoyed this movie should be locked up? Surely that’s going a bit far? Steady on, chap!

  • Heretic (apostate of FSM)

    Better them than me! These bullshit artists are quickly getting so bad, that they would have been coveted propaganda consultants for Hitler or Stalin.

  • Anthony Edwards

    As an anti-theist, I don’t think that people who are theistic always do bad things because of their belief system, and I think that people are good or bad regardless of their belief, but I also think that beliefs (including nationalistic ones) make people excusable for their actions.

    You’re an eloquent speaker and thanks for that.

  • Guest

    This movie sounds hilarious; can’t wait to see it!

  • Dave Widener

    I was just going to let this pass. But, the more that I thought about it. The more I realized that I couldn’t. Let me start by asking a question. Should I even try looking for your diatribes on the malicious characterizations of Christians, in the movies? I doubt that I would find even one. Yet, those characterizations are ubiquitous. Your selective outrage is pathetic. Grow up, stop whining, and understand that mischaracterizations happen all of the time, in Hollywood. Next, understand the nature of movie making. Characters are written in an over-the-top manner to make a point. Although some of the instances, in this movie, are exaggerated. I found the overall attitude, of the atheist, to be consistent with atheists that I know. And yes, I am still friends with them. I do love them. Finally, your point on Dean Cain’s character is moot. I don’t remember him labeling himself as atheist. He may have shown a dislike for his mother’s beliefs. But, that doesn’t make him an atheist. But, you seem to identify him as an atheist? I wonder why?

  • TheSquirrel

    Yes, this is much like saying “How dare you be upset at X when Y happens all the time!”
    Besides, the entire point of this movie is to vilify and mischaracterize atheists. Frankly not only is the movie objectively bad on nearly every level, its offensive.
    I’m very sorry the only atheists you call friends are sad jerkish assholes with no life. They are hardly the representative sample you seem to think they are.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    If you believe that was the entire point of the movie, you entirely missed the point of the movie!

  • TheSquirrel

    Oh, I’m sorry! Was the point of the movie supposed to be something to the effect of “God is totes real, guys!” …Well maybe they should have done more with that then.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    Hahahaha, you are sooo clever.

    Your response demonstrates that there is no need for me to continue as even you understand that your previous comment about the “entire point of the movie was to vilify and mischaracterize atheists” is false.

    Thanks for trying!

  • TheSquirrel

    Wow, missing the point completely.
    If the point of the movie WAS to prove god exists THEY FAILED HARDCORE!
    Now making atheists look like meanies, bullies and failures, THAT’S where all their effort obviously went, thus, the point.
    The point of a movie is only encapsulated in the title if you’re uneducated in literary analysis.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    Sorry to burst your bubble but I haven’t missed your point, I simply do not agree with it. You understand the difference, right?

  • dbwindhorst

    So, Kyle…where in the N.T. will I find an example of your witnessing style?

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    You think I’ve been “witnessing” here?

    Wow, what a stereotypical view you have.

    Kyle’s a Christian so he MUST be witnessing…right?

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    The conduct of Christians is, itself, the biggest testimony there is to the utter lack of credibility to Christians’ claims of having a divine power involved in their religion.

    A while ago my then-husband (a preacher) wanted to put a Jesus fish on our shared vehicle and I said he couldn’t until he learned how to drive in a safe and law-abiding way. I was a very fervent Christian, but even then I knew that if he put a Christian symbol on our car and drove like a maniac, it’d just be an anti-witness to the validity of our faith. A pity that modern Christians haven’t learned the lesson that I grasped instinctively 25 years ago.

  • TheSquirrel

    It’s ok, you’re allowed to be wrong.

  • Jan Civil

    It’s a big ol’ strawman of atheists. All this word ‘atheism’ means is, a person that does not believe there is a being requiring no prior cause that is the cause of all. It’s not a belief, ie., an affirmation of anything at all. Why would there be a consistency to the behavior of people just out of this label?

    I don’t believe that particular notion but I would not want to define myself in reaction to ‘theism’. It just is not that significant an idea, it’s rather childlike to me in the first place. But sure, there are people that are driven to argue on and on, to no gain for either.
    Yet in this film an ‘atheist’ is persuaded in the end. Because the argument is so compelling. Good luck with that!

    I think this is bad stuff, I think the extreme intellectual dishonesty here is a bad thing, that there is a hole to fill with this is a bad sign. As it takes the temperature of society, I see fever.

    So believers, ‘Christians’, supposedly, need this to beat up on WHY, exactly? One would think that if you’re secure in this faith, you don’t need this thing at all. But clearly there is enough of an obvious market for this, this thing gets produced, and it’s sure to make a profit. So the fact of this picture only reinforces one’s notion about the desperation of it all, doesn’t it.

    Your remarks btw are consistent with assholes I know. One can’t criticize this or it’s ‘whining’. You address none of the points of the piece; instead you have a little story to tell, using it as the opp.
    You’re a troll.

  • Heretic (apostate of FSM)

    Are you even aware of the fact that you are on an atheist blog?

    Nice mustache, by the way – it makes you look particularly Hitlerian. Hitler was a Christian, too.

  • wowchinga

    He’s not required to write any diatribes on the characterization of Christians in movies in order to make his points valid. You seem to be unable to look past persons and discuss ideas. Next is your bullshit claim of the movie being consistent with your experience of Atheists. On top of the fact that you’re obviously bigoted and hateful, your anecdotal dealings with Atheists is in no way a valid measurement of the attitudes of millions of other Atheists. Go spew your hate somewhere else, there are hundreds of forums for “loving Christians” such as yourself to practice their vitriol.

  • TheSquirrel

    Furthermore… His selective outrage? I’m sorry, is he reviewing a movie or all of Hollywood? Did you even think about this article before you wrote your comment? I suppose he’s supposed to include every facet of movie history into his review of a SINGLE movie.

    I’m sure he’s simply torn by your disapproval. Or not.

  • Neil Carter

    Perhaps it was the blatant way he mocked his aging mother’s faith in the final scenes of the movie. His alignment with “the bad guys” seemed pretty obvious to me.

    But shallow writing is a problem for me in all movies, not just Christian ones. It’s insulting to the intelligence of anyone with a modicum of critical thinking skills. It reminds me of the funny line in Seinfeld where the priest asks Jerry why another guy’s Jewish jokes offend him:

    “And this offends you as a Jewish person?”
    “No, it offends me as a comedian!”

    http://youtu.be/qifwiNrVBFk

  • Mikus

    Yep you just described 90% of the christians, muslims, etc. not the atheists lol.

  • Evie

    I am a very conservative Christian, and I quite enjoyed the movie. However, I never thought to look at it from this point of view. This review makes me second guess my idea of going out and buying the movie.I can totally see your point of view. While I don’t necessarily agree 100% with everything you said, I can see how it (The movie) could be taken that way.

    I do have to say though, Christians are the main person group or religious group being persecuted in the world today. We are called bigots and close minded and judgmental, however we seem to be the only ones not accepted for our position.

  • TheSquirrel

    It amounts to emotional porn for believers (no offense meant, whatever floats your masturboat I say). It is however an objectively bad movie.

  • http://Www.theirishatheist.wordpress.com/ The Irish Atheist

    Perhaps the reason you are called a bigot and closed-minded and judgmental is because you actually are a bigot who does close-minded or judgemental things.

    Come back once you’ve been though all the things that Christians have done to the LGBT community and we’ll talk about how you’re the most persecuted.

  • Guest

    I’m not sure, but you may have misposted this…

  • Neil Carter

    Globally, the persecution of Christians is a legitimate problem, and my humanist friends are in full support of joining the church in helping reduce their suffering in those countries where they are persecuted because their faith isn’t privileged as it is here in the United States.

    But here in my country it’s a different story, especially in the region of the country where I live. Here in the Deep South, Christians enjoy a significant privilege to which they are so accustomed that even a slight loss of some portion of it feels like an all-out assault on their faith.

  • Alan Christensen

    There certainly is persecution of Christians in some countries, but a lot of my fellow Christians in America seem to think that having others vocally disagree with you in the public square = persecution.

  • Rod Haney

    Globally?
    Isn’t that being a little melodramatic?
    In reality it’s a few Islamic countries where christians endure real persecution. Not to make light of that, but it’s hardly a global problem.
    Here in North America, “christian persecution” amounts to removing the exclusive privileges christians have enjoyed here and applying equal rights to everyone.
    Unless you listen to those morons on Fox “news”, they’ll have you believe christians are being hunted down and slaughtered in the streets.

  • AceOfSpades

    What about homosexuals who are been outcasted from society and sometimes murdered in countries in the middle east?
    Or atheists who can be legally killed in at least 10 countries worldwide. They have also, statistically in USA, been regarded as less trustworthy than rapists.
    What about Muslims who seem to be continuously accused of being terrorists? And God help them trying to get through airport security if they had a metal ligament replacement.

  • African RockFish

    In seven states, there are laws barring atheists from holding public office, and in two states atheists have no legal standing to testify in a court of law. When a US state changes their constitution in order to prohibit Christians from holding elected offices, Christians can get back to me about that “persecution” nonsense.

  • Dale McGowan

    Good on you for seeing his point of view on this — that’s a hard thing to do.

    As for Christian persecution, here’s an interesting theory about that:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2014/08/05/why-do-evangelical-christians-constantly-act-like-theyre-being-persecuted-heres-one-theory/

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    “How dare they not tolerate our total intolerance!” What, that again? You know, maybe the reason you get called those things is that you are those things. Newsflash: Nobody cares what you believe in private. Be as bigoted, close-minded, and judgmental as you wish to be. Label those things “love” if it makes you happy to do so, as long as you understand nobody but you will find it loving and that nobody except you will accept this relabeling and rebranding attempt.

    But when you step out into the big bad world, we’ve got these agreements about how society works and how people should treat each other. Your relabeled hatred and intolerance, if they translate into behaving unfairly and cruelly toward others or making hate-speech statements, are going to be evaluated by the rest of us. And we are allowed to criticize them. We are also fully within our rights to make laws requiring you to treat others kindly and fairly and to extend full civil rights to all people, even the people in classes you deem inferior or unworthy, even if you totally don’t want to do it. if you go into business, you will be required to treat others fairly whether you want to or not. And if you cannot do those things, then go live somewhere that enshrines religious privilege and bigotry into law–though you may find that almost all of them are nightmarish, extremist-ridden hellholes. If you remain here in America, though, don’t go crying about how “intolerant” everybody is that they won’t allow you to skirt the law and maliciously mistreat other people in the name of your rebranded “love.” Nobody is required to tolerate intolerance.

  • TheSquirrel

    “I do have to say though, Christians are the main person group or religious group being persecuted in the world today.”
    Thanks, I needed to shit my pants with laughter today…

  • Guest

    Christian persecution in America is complex.
    I’m sorry, I meant it is A complex.

  • African RockFish

    LOL @ the poor, persecuted 80% majority!

  • http://www.Kamenriderrecap.com Sneezeguard

    If anything this movie just teaches that you can be an amoral jackass your whole life and if you say the magic words right before you die you get infinite rewards. Not really a good argument for living your life as a Christian when they get the same fate but don’t get to enjoy all that delicious sinning before getting there.

  • TheSquirrel

    TheBibleReloaded on youtube have a very excellent review of this awful awful movie.

  • Nick

    For the people saying something along the lines of ‘most movies exaggerate in order to make a point and the dichotomy between protagonists and antagonists is intentional in this way.’ I’m not sure if people realize that this simply supports the view that God is Not Dead is a bad movie and that it was not made to challenge minds and inspire deep thought. If you have never seen a movie that inspires in that way, then you are greatly culturally impoverished.

  • Neil Schmidt

    If anyone thinks that this film was anything beyond an opportunity to make a tidy return at the box office and a ton of residuals with DVD sales from the piety and gullibility of modern, uneducated. Western style Evangelical Christians, they are quite deluded. With the amount of commentary available through social media, the various perspectives of Atheists are well defined and yet the writer and director of this flickering catastrophe chose to ignore these perspectives in favor of every preconceived stereotype that is currently circulating in closed Christian circles.

    Watching Christians losing their minds in the comment section is quite telling considering that the only validation of them acting like the caricatures in the film is their own insistence that they’re not like that even though nothing specifically about them was stated. Further flavor that notion with a healthy dose of vitriol aimed at the author and you have his points completely validated. It’s the equivalent of telling a crowd of people that some of them are going to be statistically ignorant then having several of them leap to their feet to demand that you quit calling them ignorant.

    I am so thankful that I found my way out of this mythology.

  • DarkSoulsSauron

    I found a shitty pirated copy off the internet and listened to it. i could almost hear the moans of christians masturbating to it.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    Thank you for your perspective on the movie. It’s interesting that throughout your post you are criticizing the movie for stereotyping and misrepresenting atheists but you can tell the tone of your post is that Christians everywhere will picture atheists in the light the movie (and as their pastors) portray.

    That Christians are just mindless drones that they will justbelieve what they are told to “fit in.” How stereotypical and misrepresenting!

    For you to be grotesquely offended by the “stereotypical” or “misrepresented” atheist from the movie would be like a Christian being offended by how often movies and TV make them a stereotype. As Lecrae would put it;

    “All the Christians in the movies so typical
    Alcoholic, child molesting, hypocritic and mystical”

    You are right that media influences how we view other people. But atheists are no less prone than Christians, Muslims, or any group or sub-group of people to accept a misrepresentation of others.

    You say the films chief failure is to demonstrate love to unbelievers. I find that unfortunate and likely based off of your personal views of Christians and Christianity.

    The pastor and his missionary friend who couldn’t get their car to start until the night of the concert and were stuck in traffic at the moment the professor was hit by another car, demonstrated love to the atheist professor by doing all they could to help. By getting out and racing to his side, by calling for an ambulance, by encouraging and comforting him, and at the end giving him the hope of eternity. Yup, the movie portrays that Christians should “hate the mean and angry atheist professor.”

    That scene as you’ve taken it, from another perspective could display God’s sovereignty, how a Christian or anyone should respond in a crisis or accident, and the true reality that our lives on earth do not always get the happy ending we expect.

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    Nothing like a little Christian gaslighting to make me realize anew how happy I am to be out of that religion. The scene with the car accident you describe is absolutely grotesque to me, but you are demanding that I find it loving and encouraging. Sorry, no, it’s still grotesque. I really think fundagelicals have totally lost their sense of compassion somewhere along the way. I’ve seen them twist any offense against humanity, any cruelty, any hateful act, into THE BONUS PLAN and see it as an awesome sign of the goodness of their god. Thankfully, I am not required to contort myself into that kind of cognitive dissonance anymore.

    You would know, if you actually had read the post, that Neil’s intensely interested in representing people fairly and that he is the very last person you’d ever find misrepresenting Christians. You would also, if you had not lost your sense of compassion along with so many of your brethren, know that the recent slew of movies put out by the fundagelical marketing machine all treat non-believers in this manner–making them out to be all secret believers with a grudge against a god they claim to think does not exist, painting them as caricatures of simply horrible beasts devoid of any humanity or morality, then send in some TRUE CHRISTIAN™ to save them from themselves. It’s disgusting and evil to put out such dehumanizing ideas about non-believers. And “Susie hit me first!” is not an adequate rationalization for it happening. It doesn’t really matter how offended you feel by the representations of Christians in the media; that does not excuse the false witness in these movies or the hatefulness of these representations. That you think that it does speaks volumes about where your headspace is as a Christian. You’re not in this thing to love. You’re in it to dominate. Don’t think anybody’s fooled.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    No where have I demanded that you find it loving and encouraging. I have simply stated a differing point of view of what the scene depicts.

    Why is it absolutely grotesque to you?

    First I will point out that I am not offended by how media portrays Christians. It’s atheists that feel the need to express how “offended they are by Christian movies misrepresenting atheists.”

    Secondly, when you say “it doesn’t really matter how offended you feel by the representations of Christians in the media,,,” You realize that goes for atheists as well, unless of course you are living by a double standard. It’s WRONG to misrepresent atheists in media BUT it’s OKAY to do it to Christians.

    Finally, as far as compassion goes. You do not know me, you simply have a belief about what all Christians believe based off of your experiences with them. You have perceived them to lack compassion. I assure you, I have a great deal of compassion for all peoples. To attempt to dehumanize me in such a way is as you have put it “disgusting and evil.”

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    You realize you sound like an abuse victim trying to explain why he’s got a bruise, right? You’re talking about an incredibly insulting, dehumanizing scene about an atheist who has gotten into a mortal injury caused by an accident (which, presumably, the Christian god was totally fine with allowing). Two preachers see him and instead of doing something useful, prey upon his fear and pain to get him converted. The myth about “no atheists in foxholes” is what is operating here, and it’s not only false but deeply insulting. I’m sorry that you are incapable of recognizing this predation for what it is or the sheer insulting degradation of a scene involving this kind of deathbed conversion or the sickening opportunism of the Christians who use the short time available to do something this vile to a vulnerable person. As Christians go, the ones in this movie are simply ghastly. But oh no, to someone with Jesus goggles on, you can twist and contort like you’re on a Twister mat to make this scene into something loving. Wow. Maybe you need to check at the lost & found for your sense of compassion and morality?

    And you’re still trying to rationalize this sort of characterization because you’re so upset with how Christians are represented. I never said, not even once, that I condone erroneous or unfair representations of Christians in media. But we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about how this movie in particular depicts atheists. You’re the one talking about that. Had you asked, I’d have gladly told you that I object equally to those representations as well. But again, we’re not talking about that. No double standard at all is in operation… except in the mind of someone masturbating over martyr and persecution fantasies.

    My belief about Christians is formed by half a lifetime in the religion and by how Christians behave–like you have here. You don’t get that this movie is not only disrespectful of atheists and misrepresents whole swathes of people to make a puerile, over-simplistic, hamfisted point, but that it feeds into the persecution fantasies of a group of people who already suffer from a bad enough case of false-persecution fantasizing already. You are not compassionate at all, but by redefining big words you don’t understand, have successfully made yourself believe that you are.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    I am sorry but you do not “object equally to those representations as well.”

    Here you have attempted to represent me as lacking compassion and morality, as someone masturbating over martyr and persecution fantasies, and as being incredibly insulting.

    You are perfectly fine in attempting to represent others as negatively as you possibly can but if you or something you agree with is represented negatively you have a conniption. You also seem to think using personal attacks will help you win some sort of argument. It’s sad really.

    So what wasn’t useful about what the two preachers did: Run to his aid? Have others call 911? Touch his shoulder or hold his hand? Identify that his injuries were internal and there was nothing they could medically like apply pressure on an open wound? Or give him hope, peace, and comfort in his dying breaths?

    Or was the scene so dehumanizing that there was a car accident causing the mortal injury?

    What about all the other people the movie portrayed as just standing around, are those people more compassionate for not running to the mans side and sharing Jesus with him?

    But you are right, that scene is despicable and disgraceful. Those two preachers should be ashamed of themselves for trying to help a man struck by a car.

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    That was magnificently obtuse. Do you do that on purpose? It’s really hard to fathom what you’re actually trying to accomplish here beyond trolling. So far you’ve pulled out all the big guns of Christian apologetics–gaslighting, redefinitions, demanding people explain things ad nauseum to poor widdle dumdum you who jusssssst doesn’t geeeeeet it, and then at the end, just as a last fillip, demonstrating that you’ve utterly and completely not listened to a thing anybody’s said by restating your original gaslighting comment. Impressive, but tomorrow I’ll wake up and say to my husband, “Wow, honey, you should have seen this hypocritical, narcissistic jackass of a Christian I tangled with last night.” I will not say “Wow, what an amazing Christian he was–how radiantly he demonstrated the love of the Savior he claims to follow.”

    Take your “just asking questions” tactics elsewhere, hypocrite. I will not be bashing my brains out to find the magical series of incantations that will finally make you understand how you’re coming off and why you’re so wrong. Right now your paycheck–that sense of smug superiority you’re exuding, your sense of being right, your sense of defensiveness, your need to feel persecuted, your need to feel vindicated–depends upon you not getting anything anybody is trying to tell you. Maybe one day you’ll be ready to hear it. But not today, it seems.

  • African RockFish

    “You’re in it to dominate. Don’t think anybody’s fooled.”

    Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that their endgame is world domination and subjugation of anyone who doesn’t buy into Christianity.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    Nope. But I am interested in how you came up with that idea?

  • http://127.0.0.1 3lemenope

    The last eighteen centuries or so of human history?

  • Matt

    So this movie doesn’t attack atheists at all?

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    Could you please rephrase the question?

  • TheSquirrel

    Wow, for a guy who likes to post small novels you sure do have a hard time with simple english.
    Does this movie attack atheists at all? How’s that?

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    That’s a little bit better as you ask “does” as opposed to “doesn’t.” In simple English asking does is a clearer question than asking doesn’t.

    In what way are you asking me if the movie “attacks atheists” as including “at all” makes the question too vague.

    I do not have a hard time with English, I just do not answer poorly phrased questions.

  • TheSquirrel

    Does the movie attack atheists?
    Good enough for you?

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    You really need to work on asking questions.

    Why? Because your question is trying to pigeonhole me into answering yes or no as to whether or not the movie attacks atheists. Much like asking, “have stopped beating your wife?”

    Rather than asking me my thoughts and views on the movie your question is an attempt to lead the conversation to whether or not the movie “attacks atheists.” This completely ignores any other dialogue about the movie. Do you see why the question is poorly phrased?

  • Matt

    The question is not poorly phrased. The answer is yes, and that’s why you don’t like the question.

    Does the film seek understanding in atheism?

    And what’s this about beating your wife? I’m sure that would be a yes or no question too… ? If anyone thinks they are getting pigeonholed with a question like that, they are probably still beating their wife..

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loaded_question#Defense

    You can read my mind now. That I don’t like the answer because you presume the answer to your question is only “yes.” How quaint?

    The question pigeonholes any involved into a discussion on whether or not the movie attacks atheists (in a general sense). Of which you yourself find that if the answer is yes than it is not a good basis for discussion on atheism or Christianity.

    So, why would someone bother to answer the question?

  • Matt

    What?

    I asked the question because you seem to think otherwise, and if you believe the answer is no then please feel free to say why. Were not going to shoot you down for stating your opinion, in fact, I would prefer it to you going on about whatever it is you’re going on about.

  • CanuckAmuck

    I wish my dodgeball team had people who could dodge balls half as well as you dodge questions.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    Why am I not surprised that I’m being accused of “dodging the question?”

    Let me ask you CanuckAmuck, Have you stopped beating your wife?

  • Ricci Fagg

    …Because you ARE dodging the question. You’re pointing out grammatical errors instead of simply stating your own opinion after having seen the movie. They asked you if Atheists were being attacked in the movie. It’s a simple enough question.

    And instead of answering the question you are throwing in stupid rhetorical questions, as if that will somehow effect the truth of the matter. Very, very mature of you.

  • CanuckAmuck

    I’ve never been married.

    Now, what is your answer to The Squirrel’s question?

  • TheSquirrel

    To be fair, it’s not really my question.

  • Matt

    So you’re telling me you really couldn’t figure out what was meant by that? I’m asking you, in general, does this movie attack atheist? It is certainly not seeking to find any understanding between christianity and atheism.

    So if this film is attacking atheists, how can it be good or a good basis for anything, let alone a discussion on atheism and christianity.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    No, I knew exactly what was meant by your question.

    I hope that you take the time to re-read your second paragraph and are able to see WHY I did not answer your question or WHY I did not enter into a discussion geared towards whether or not the movie “attacks atheists.”

  • TheSquirrel

    “You say the films chief failure is to demonstrate love to unbelievers. I
    find that unfortunate and likely based off of your personal views of
    Christians and Christianity.”
    THE FILM fails to demonstrate love to unbelievers. THE FILM itself shits on the very idea of a nonbeliever being happy, well balanced and centered. Yes, the christians in the movie displayed love (or proselytized at, I know it’s hard to make the distinction sometimes) to this sham, strawman of a made up atheist. THE FILM itself fails to even do that. Because if you really wanted to show love to an atheist you wouldn’t portray him in such an absolutely hateful manner, and if you wanted to proselytize at him, you’d deliver evidence, not age old debunked fallacious arguments and emotional porn.

  • Rod Haney

    “All the Christians in the movies so typical
    Alcoholic, child molesting, hypocritic and mystical”

    Those would be the catholic priests.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    Those were lyrics from Fall Back by Lecrae (ft. Trip Lee) of the Rebel Album. Perhaps before you make attempts at clever retorts you should actually listen to the song.

  • Rod Haney

    I have no idea who those people are.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    I figured as much, that’s why I gave you the album, artist, and song to find it. You could go to A to Z lyrics or you could probably find it on iTunes and actually listen to it. Or you could continue to make undignified responses that you think are clever. Up to you really.

  • Rod Haney

    Undignified,,, you sure told me.
    I’m going to go sit in the corner and cry now, ok.
    That’s a lie.
    As for your “song” by a christian hip hop rapper,,, yeah, I’ll pass. Thanks.

  • http://simplifiedtheology.com/ Kyle Buss

    I thought you had no idea who those people were?

  • Rod Haney

    Google does work.

  • Mike

    Neil’s point was to demonstrate that the movie was designed with the intent to misrepresent atheists and to portray them in a bad light. He’s not saying that Christians are foolish or easily manipulated, but instead that the movie serves the purpose of reinforcing a Christian culture that’s intolerant of people who have different beliefs or philosophies. As someone who was raised in a religious home and is a pastor’s kid, I can tell you that this attitude towards non-Christians is a very real aspect of Evangelical Christian culture. When I attended youth group in middle and high school, ridiculous movies like these were shown all the time. To the perceptive, it is apparent that these movies are designed with a very “un-Christlike” agenda that seeks to demonize non-Christians and to glorify behavior that lines up with a fundamentalist viewpoint. If you really don’t see a problem with the ridiculous caricatures of atheists shown in this film, you should make an effort to understand why we’ve arrived at some of the conclusions we have. I never decided to become an atheist, it’s just something that happened when I began to question my faith and the value of believing something without evidence. I don’t hate god, my family, Christians, or people with different religious ideologies. I simply saw no reason or logic in continuing to believe in god and science provided a model of the universe in which god’s existence didn’t really make sense. The problem with this movie is that it represents people like me as people who are angry at god (ironically something we don’t believe in), have no moral basis, and arrive at conclusions irrationally. I think that this is a calculated effort to distract Christians from the *actual* arguments and evidence for the atheist worldview. The examples of “Christian love” that you provided still fail to represent atheists as little more than petty, irrational, bitter people who deserve to get in a car wreck in order to accept Christianity and die. I can’t imagine anyone seeing this as a humanizing portrayal at all. I do regret that atheists are actually guilty of creating straw men for Christians as well. However, for someone who emphasizes science and objective fact, it is very frustrating when people manipulate science and facts about the physical world to match their beliefs (ex*: Creationism and the Great Flood). To religious people, a professor’s fervency in the objective truth is an attack to their personal beliefs (as evidenced by that chain letter and this movie). Professors are seen as no more than intellectual bullies who want to demean your faith by presenting evidence that is designed to disprove god and make a mockery out of Christianity. The sad truth is that If you are offended by science or by different worldviews, there’s a good chance that you’re holding on to a view that is completely false.

  • Paul Cherry

    “it’s teach” needs an edit to “it teaches”

  • Paul Cherry

    After reading the post, my reaction is that you have stated, very well, the stereotyped view of atheism in the stereotyped Christian culture. As a Christian, who just so happens to have free thought and reason, I was apprehensive about the premise of the movie and expected quite a few cliches… and there they were. Though, I’ve never seen the movie and will probably not rush to the store to buy the DVD, I do understand your own feelings about the Christian culture. Many of my brothers and sisters in this faith have performed horribly when encountering people who don’t subscribe to the neat canned Christian perspective… I’ve actually had people leave a Bible Study and subsequently the Church just because I refused to verbally condemn certain people to hell. But please understand, some of us actually do come to the Christian faith through science, reason, and free thought- we just have to cut through the bull of the canned program. I have many friends and family who are atheist and we have equal respect, admiration and love for each other. I take offense whenever the Christian culture mindlessly portrays any other group in a stereotypical manner; but I equally take offense when other groups mindlessly do the same against Christians. Because you are right, that’s just not love. Thanks for your post, it was really mind-opening.

  • dbwindhorst

    Allow me to introduce you to my Baptist family:

  • Paul Cherry

    Not sure what that means. They probably wouldn’t like me though.

  • Rod Haney

    Do baptist like anybody?

  • Paul Cherry

    To be fair, I think the point of the blogpost was that Christians tend to stereotype atheists in one way. My response was regarding my disdain for Christians or atheists stereotyping those who are different, so my response is that Baptists certainly have a position of interpretation of scripture that is different than my own, but that’s OK. We’re all human after all and are still working toward perfection, whether that means evolution or the constant refining in the grace of God… of course, I equate the two quite comfortably.

  • dbwindhorst

    Southern Baptists are the largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. Having watched a few Christian roadshow flicks in Baptist churches, I can assure you that the majority of that largest denomination will eat this movie up.

    It’s not a mindless stereotype if it’s true.

  • Paul Cherry

    Which is exactly how the Christian fundamentalists would respond about atheists (specifically meaning “because I’ve been around a lot of Baptists who act in this way, then all Christians act in this way). Ultimately, let’s not criticize others for doing exactly what we’re doing… frankly, I enjoy this type of dialogue because it teaches me what my misconceptions are and helps me grow. The author of the post did a really good job at illustrating that. Let us not allow ourselves to descend into the realms of sarcasm and bigotry just because we’ve “known people like that”. Not all Christians will eat this movie up, nor will they Tweet “God is not dead”

  • Rebecca Mullen

    Happy to see you on Patheos! Enjoyed my introduction to you a year ago when your video made the rounds and happy to see you now have a blog here. Cheers!

  • kd2mill .

    People who say they “used to be Christians” never really were. To become a Christian is to be born of the Spirit Of God. God, through His Spirit comes to live with you inside your body (the body is the Temple of the Spirit Of God). Once there, He has promised through His Word never to leave you. You don’t become a Christian by joining the church. There’s no such thing as a “used to be” Christian.

  • Clint W. (Thought2Much)

    *gigglesnort*

    AH-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!

    *wheeze*

    HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!

    Hee…

  • Jake Adams

    By that reasoning we are all Christian. We are all created by God, given life by God and our bodies are his temple filled with God’s holy spirit.

    If all that is true then why are there still people of the Jewish Faith? Their Faith is even older than Christianity and they were the chosen of God. You’d think that God would have done that nice Godly decree ( cause the God of the Old Testiment was rather chatty) and said ” you are all Christians now cause I’m changing the rules. Oh and that pesky “free will” thing ( That I have proven I don’t really care about) is moot cause I said so.”

    When I was Christian I believed I was the good little “God fan boy”. I even felt the calling of the pulpit, As I grew mentally I couldn’t reconcile the contradictions in the bible. So either the “Spirit” left me or I found a way to evict it.

  • Adolf Verloc

    2 Peter 2:20-22 “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the
    knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled
    in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the
    first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the
    way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy
    commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened
    to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing
    herself, returns to wallow in the mire.””

    Certainly sounds to me as though Christians can become apostates. You seem to be adopting the “No true Scotsman” fallacy,

  • dbwindhorst

    Yeah. Keep repeating that to yourself if it helps you sleep better.

  • Rod Haney

    News flash!!!!
    No one is “born of the spirit of god”.
    That my friend, is taught.

  • African RockFish

    Interesting variation of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy,

  • Mike

    I presume that certain groups of Christians that hold different theological views than you conveniently don’t count as Christians too, right? It’s easy to score when you get to move the goalposts…

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    It’s abusive and malicious to negate and dismiss another human being’s lived experiences. I’d faster say that you are a false Christian than that Neil was never one at all. You are not loving, while he is very loving. Love is as love does. Maybe you should try it?

    The problem is, there is no real way to tell who is a TRUE CHRISTIAN™. So when someone deconverts, you’re in a real pickle, aren’t you? You have to figure out what that person did wrong. There’s no set procedure for determining what a TRUE CHRISTIAN™ is like, so you base it upon yourself. Whoever deconverts obviously wasn’t praying enough (like you do), or going to church enough (like you) or going to the wrong church (unlike yours), or hanging out with the wrong folks or reading the wrong books or not enough of the right ones (all of which you do fine), or believed the wrong doctrines (unlike yours) or whatever it is you happen to think are the external signs of a TRUE CHRISTIAN™, which by wild coincidence will look a lot like whatever you value. Once you figure out what that person did wrong, you can feel smug and safe again. Whew! You’re safe. You’ll never deconvert, not you, never you…. except that just about every ex-Christian I’ve ever met was more fervent, more loving, more honest, and more eager to know Jesus than just about any Christian I’ve ever run across, and that categorically includes people who treat people the way you have here.

  • http://www.knightsofmarsroundtable.wordpress.com/ Sir Phobos

    Are you intentionally saying this to anger people? I mean, seriously. This article directly addressed the exact thing you’re doing right here. You don’t get to tell me or anyone else what is going on inside my own head. I used to be Catholic, and now I’m not. That’s the end of that story. People can think about things and change their minds.

  • Xerxes

    So being Christian is some permanent fixture of your essence, that (if you’re special enough to have it, like you obviously think you are) you can’t ever loose? So, by your argument, all attempts at conversion and proselytizing are pointless, since we’re Christian already and just don’t know it. In that case, you and your ilk should all just shut your traps.

    Oh wait, I almost forgot – I *am* a Christian, not an Atheist. Just one who isn’t so certain that I’m right about everything that I’m a caricature of self-righteous pride.

  • Michael Brian Woywood

    CALVINIST ALERT!

  • Rod Haney

    Hey, they left out the most important thing about atheists,,,
    #11 Atheists eat babies!
    I like mine slowly cooked on the BBQ, smothered in homemade BBQ sauce! =)

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Everyone’s saying there are no sympathetic non-Christian characters at all, but isn’t the Chinese kid a non-Christian before converting at the end? He seems consistently likable throughout the movie.

    Atheist/liberal bullying of Christian students isn’t unheard of, so I didn’t think it was so far-fetched to have an atheist professor be a bullying jerk, though it is far-fetched for nobody at any point to suggest that Josh approach the chairman or… somebody. I liked all my secular philosophy professors, but others have had different experiences so I’m not going to make blanket statements either way.

    I just wished the story had been better and that the characters were more interesting. And I didn’t get why the whole class was convinced by the end of Josh’s presentations. That would never happen. They should have had just the Chinese kid convert. Speaking as a Christian, I don’t like the idea that young Christians are being given false hope about the success of their efforts. The best conversation I ever had on my campus culminated in a courteous thank-you, mutual appreciation and friendly parting of ways, but nothing dramatic on the spot. Real life just doesn’t work that way.

    Add to that the bizarre choice to intercut the ending with the Newsboys concert, and my inner director/editor starts to get a brain-ache.

    So while I’m not really on your side, obviously, and while I don’t think it’s so implausible to write characters who happen to be both jerks and atheists (because obviously there are jerks everywhere), I’ll just put out there for the record that I had a much better time in the theater when I went to see Captain America 2 twice.

  • Matt Rock

    “…and while I don’t think it’s so implausible to write characters who happen to be both jerks and atheists…”

    I don’t really think that’s the issue, though. If the professor was just churlish, it would be merely characterization. I haven’t seen the film yet, but even the previews seem to make it that he is supposed to be the author’s / director’s vessel for arguing against atheism, and his presentation thereof is problematic for being so off-base. It would be like casting a Westboro Baptist Church pastiche as the clear representative of Christianity as a whole – even those who would be on the author’s side have to find that sort of misrepresentation counterproductive.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    I was thinking too of the character who dumps his girlfriend—I mean lots of guys do that.

    My problem is not so much “The atheists are bad—that’s so unloving, it’s going to hurt people’s feelings.” It’s more like, “The atheists are bad—but they’re bad AND boring.” Like the scene in Homeward Bound where the old dog says “Just over the hill, you can see our house from there,” and when they get there, the younger dog says “Wow, you can see everything from up here! Except the house, where’s the house, I don’t see the house?” That was me in this movie going, “Except the character arc, where’s the arc, I don’t see the arc?” They made a limp try with the professor, but his moment of grace is so rushed and badly handled. Now if you want a good example of a really sincere, well-executed “preacher making an impassioned plea to a car accident victim” scene, watch The Apostle.

    While I’m at it, I’ll put in a good word for the reporter’s moment at the computer—the girlfriend dying of cancer. She has a cracking up moment that’s well done. She’s obviously a good actress, too bad her character was so flat and uninteresting.

  • African RockFish

    Not surprising. You have to be weary of Christians…their allegiance to the truth is one of convenience, and to Christians, there’s no such thing as stooping too low since their end game is to hold dominion over every man, woman and child on the planet.

  • Jonathan Sullivan

    I got fired from a megachurch because they found out I was an atheist and I wouldn’t go to their “classes”. Never mind the fact they hired me knowing that I didn’t follow a religion and that it never got in the way of being one of the only people there who could do their job without asking five million questions.

    In short Christian colleges asking for statements of faith does not seem surprising in the least.

  • Rod Haney

    Sue them.

  • http://rolltodisbelieve.wordpress.com/ Captain Cassidy

    Unfortunately, churches aren’t usually bound by the same rules that secular businesses/groups are, and thanks to the Jesus Party Republicans’ efforts, most states have laws allowing someone to be fired for just about any reason barring protected-group status, and atheists are not a protected group anywhere, alas.

  • Wissenssucher

    Sounds about right.

  • Rod Haney

    I would suggest checking with your state laws.
    Most states now do in fact have statutes on their books pertaining to workplace discrimination. Including religious discrimination.
    I would go after every tax free penny I could get out of them!

  • John Piippo

    In my PhD work in philosophical theology at Northwestern University I was refused support by the then-head of the philosophy department because I was a Christian and affiliated with a Methodist seminary. See my post on this here – http://www.johnpiippo.com/2014/04/gods-not-dead.html. While of course all atheists are not like the philosophy professor in the movie, I had one who was.