New Movie Tackles Anti-God Bias at Universities

by Julianne Stanford - University of Arizona on March 21, 2014

‘God’s Not Dead,’ a movie that opened nationwide Friday, March 21, raises awareness of discrimination against Christianity at universities. It was inspired by a true story of religious persecution against a Missouri State University student. Producers say they hope to inspire and equip students who face overzealous antitheism to stand up for their beliefs.

How far would you go to defend your belief in God?

College freshman and devout Christian Josh Wheaton discovers just how far his faith can be tested in the newly released film God’s Not Dead when his philosophy class is taught by an atheist, Professor Radisson.

On the first day of class, the professor says to a classroom full of students, “I would like to bypass the senseless debate altogether and jump to the conclusion that every sophomore is already aware of – there is no God.”

And the only thing the professor requires of students on that day is to write a statement disavowing God with three specific words – “God is dead.”

However, instead of passively complying with the professor’s request, Wheaton refuses to write that statement on the grounds of his faith.godsnotdeadinside1

“If you cannot bring yourself to admit that God is dead, then you will need to defend the antithesis,” the professor challenges.

Throughout the semester, Wheaton “must prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence” and “engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class,” say the film’s production company, Pure Flix Entertainment.

If Wheaton cannot convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will receive a failing grade in the class.

Wheaton’s defense of his faith is not the only story told throughout the film, as it “weaves together stories from multiple characters with perspectives on faith, doubt and disbelief, and culminates in a dramatic call to action: if you believe God’s not dead, prove it.”

Shane Harper stars in the film as Josh Wheaton, alongside Kevin Sorbo as Professor Radisson.

Willie and Korrie Robertson, stars from the hit A&E television show Duck Dynasty, make a cameo appearance in the film defending their beliefs in a scene where a reporter questions them about their faith outside of a church. The Robertsons are well-known staunch defenders of the Christian faith.

The Christian pop rock band Newsboys also appear in the movie, performing their song “God’s Not Dead,” which served as inspiration for the title and creation of the movie.

Rice Broocks’ book of the same title “explores the historical, scientific and theological evidence that God is not dead,” and served as further inspiration for the movie.

However, the concept for the plot of the movie can trace its roots to the real-life casework of Alliance Defending Freedom, a law firm that defends the rights of Christian students, professors and ministries.

According to the firm’s Senior Legal Counsel, Jeremy Tedesco, the film’s inspiration stems from a case in which a Missouri State University student, Emily Brooker, was punished for her religious beliefs regarding homosexual adoption.

A professor teaching one of Brooker’s classes required students to write and sign a letter to the Missouri Legislature in support of homosexual foster homes and adoption as a class project. When she refused to do so, stating that it was contrary to her religious beliefs, Brooker was brought up on ethics violation charges by the university.

“College campuses and universities are supposed to be a marketplace of ideas,” said Tedesco in an interview with The College Fix, and “all to often what we see is colleges and universities (having) a particular understanding of what is orthodox and permissible, and they unfortunately restrict or censor individuals who offer opposing views.”

According to Tedesco, the plot of the film exemplifies the proliferation of religious discrimination in institutions of higher education and the importance of defending religious freedoms.

“If the universities are censoring certain perspectives and points of view and my understanding of how things work, all too often (it’s) directed at Christianity and conservative speech, and they’re skewing the debate on campus,” Tedesco said. “And that’s something we shouldn’t tolerate on our campuses and universities.”

Tedesco said he believes the movie will motivate others to stand up for their religious beliefs, despite the repercussions they may face.

“My hope is when people see this movie show an exhibition of publicly defending your faith despite the costs, that they will be willing to do that, too,” he said.

Others involved with the film share the same sentiments.

“We wanted to create a film that would inspire people to stand up for their faith and have more confidence in sharing the Gospel, while raising awareness of the anti-theism agenda that is promoted in our schools and universities,” said producer Russell Wolfe in a press release.

The most important message of the movie, according to actor, producer, and director David White, is for people to come away from the film knowing that God is not dead.

“He is alive, with us, and working through Christians all over the world every day,” White said in a press release. “We hope to see people equip themselves with the knowledge to answer questions from those who are searching, and with confidence.”

The film was released on Friday in more than 600 movie theaters across the country. Check local theater listings for availability and show times.

College Fix contributor Julianne Stanford is a student at the University of Arizona.

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IMAGES: Pure Flix Entertainment

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