God’s Not Dead 2, rated PG
Directed by Harold Cronk and written by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, all of who also worked on the 2014 film God’s Not Dead.
Melissa Joan Hart (Melissa & Joey television series), portrays Grace Wesley, a happy and positive public high school history teacher in Arkansas, who is also a Christian. She lives with her grandfather played by Pat Boone.
When Grace answers a question in her classroom about Jesus from Brooke Thawley, a student grieving over the recent death of her brother, during a discussion about Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, she responds by quoting Jesus from the Bible. Grace is then reported to Principal Kinney, played by Robin Givens, who asks her what she was possibly thinking about by talking about Jesus. It’s a hostile, anti-Christian environment that Grace is immediately thrust into. She is quickly brought before the school board who demands that she apologize, which she refuses. ACLU attorney and atheist Pete Kane, played by Ray Wise, convinces the parents of the student who asked the original question to file a lawsuit, which they do. Kane wants to use the case to deny the historical proof of Jesus’ existence, and to make an example of Grace by taking away her job, her teaching credentials and ruin her financially. Grace is defended by Tom Endler who is played by Jesse Metcalfe.
The film includes some characters returning from the first film, including Pastor Dave (David A.R. White), his African friend Reverend Jude (Benjamin A. Onyango), Chinese student Martin Yip (Paul Kwo), Amy Ryan (Trisha LaFache), who has been diagnosed with cancer as the film begins, and popular Christian band the Newsboys. Others making appearances in the film are Lee Strobel (The Case for Christ) and J. Warner Wallace (Cold-Case Christianity). Sadie Robertson makes her first appearance in a feature film as Brooke’s friend and fellow student Marlene. Sadie’s parents Willie and Korie Robertson appeared in the 2014 film. This was also the final completed film project of Fred Dalton Thompson, who appears in the role of a pastor.
This film depicts important religious liberty issues that we are facing and are in the news daily in our nation. The actual court cases that inspired this film are listed on the screen as the film ends. Unfortunately, those who oppose religious liberty in this film (Principal Kinney, the school board, attorney Kane, protestors, etc.), are depicted as one dimensional caricatures, rather than more fully developed characters. It’s a film that Christians will enjoy for the message, but not necessarily the quality of the film.