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.

 

About Neil Carter

Neil Carter is a high school teacher, a writer, a speaker, a father of five, and a skeptic living in the Bible Belt. A former church elder with a seminary education, Neil now writes mostly about the struggles of former evangelicals living in the midst of a highly religious subculture.

  • 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 ^_^

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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!

  • 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
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.