After the phenomenal success of God’s Not Dead, which grossed over 60 million at theaters and won the GMA Dove awards most inspirational film of the year in 2014, Pure Flix Entertainment will release the sequel on April 1, 2016. God’s Not Dead2 takes the battle from the classroom to the courthouse. Hoping to initiate a dialogue and wake up call in the U.S. about freedom of speech and freedom of religion, the movie producers have brought to the screen freedom fighters such as former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and the late Fred Thompson, and legendary singer Pat Boone.
When a Christian teacher is asked an honest question about Jesus in a public school setting, her reasoned response puts her job on the line. This inspiring drama examines the high cost of taking a stand in today’s culture. Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart) faces the trial of her life when she refuses to apologize leading the school district and a zealous civil liberties group to make an example of her. Hart, herself an outspoken Christian in Hollywood, felt it was her mission to be a part of this film.
Although her union appointed attorney (played by Jesse Metcalfe from Dallas) is an unbeliever, he uses the evidence of Jesus as an historical person as her defense. He calls two witnesses for the defense to testify about Jesus the man, not the Messiah–Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ and J. Warner Wallace, a longtime LA cold-case detective who converted to Christianity after examining the eyewitness accounts of Jesus.
“We’re about a half-step ahead of the headlines,” says Chuck Konzelman, who co-wrote the script with Cary Soloman. “It’s this whole idea that in society, and especially in schools, people are being told they can’t talk about Jesus. Our constitutional law was not drafted in such a way that said you can speak about any historical person except Jesus.”
To deliver this powerful message, the star-studded cast also includes Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Robin Givens (Head of the Class), Sadie Robertson (Duck Dynasty), a cameo appearance by former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, and another appearance by the Newsboys. The late Fred Thompson (Law & Order) who plays a senior pastor also delivers a warning to all of us, “We’ve been ignoring it, and now we are paying the price.”
While no single case yet litigated mimics what’s portrayed in this film, filmmakers predict it’s only a matter of time until real life catches up to reel life. History clearly reveals through the lives of those such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer that although standing may cost your life, many are inspired by your stand. In this film, Tom Endler, Grace’s attorney, tells her, “They (The ACLU) were trying to make an example of you. Instead you became an inspiration.” In fact, a stand by one person enables others to stand and can even begin a movement.
Sonoma Christian Home had the unique privilege of interviewing singer and actor Pat Boone, a man who has stood for family, faith, and freedom throughout his career in Hollywood, about his role in God’s Not Dead2. This former teen idol, known for his white buck shoes and uncompromising lifestyle, has been recognized as one of the top recording artists in history with album sales topping over 45 million. In 1955, Elvis Presley was the opening for Pat Boone’s performance. SCH Editor at Large Ginny Dent Brant reports.
SCH: What motivated you to play a part in this film?
PB: I am so concerned about the loss of freedoms that I do speeches called “Losing Liberty” across this country. This film has such an important message to share, and I was thrilled to be a part of it. Students in California get in trouble for saying the words “under God” in our pledge of allegiance. The prized teacher in this film, simply quoted Jesus in response to a question from a student which compared the quotes of Martin Luther King and Jesus, and she got in trouble for it. These types of things are happening everyday and we need to wake up. We must all answer this question, “Are we willing to stand for our faith?”
SCH: As one who has seen the gradual removal of God from our culture and loss of our religious freedoms, what evidence of this loss concerns you the most?
PB: People are reticent to actually speak the Word of God. Today, quoting Scripture is considered hate speech. People are worshipping the creation rather than the creator. Paul said this would happen in the latter times. Today’s newspapers read like the first chapter of Romans. The Word of God is not seen by many to be relevant, so people feel we must change with the times to be more relevant and open to anything our human nature wants to do. After all, God made us and He understands.
But that is not the God described in the Bible. I may write a book about this called something like “The Other Side of the Coin.” For every blessing in the Bible, there is an “if.” This blessing will be yours “if” you do it God’s way, and if you don’t—look out.
SCH: When someone takes a stand as Grace and Pastor Dave did in this film, how important is the support of others?
PB: It’s so important and valuable. We come to times in our lives when only a profession of faith, taking a stand, is the answer. One of the most moving parts in the film comes towards the end when it looks like the cause is lost. And just at that moment, this group of young people comes with candles and sings “How Great Thou Art.”
When we saw them professing their faith at midnight and taking their stand for Jesus, everyone wept including the entire cast and crew. And Melissa collapsed in my arms (not part of the script). We were caught up in the reality of the film. I ended up singing along a bass part that was also not part of the script.
Young people are looking for something that is worthy of a stand, and I believe this film can touch them, too. If they believe something is worth standing for, they will take a stand. I wrote a song called “Yes, Yes, I Believe in Jesus.” It’s dedicated to and about Cassie Bernall at Columbine—she got under her desk when the shooting started, and these crazed shooters asked, “Do you believe in God?” And she said, “Yes, I do. I believe in Jesus.” And he said, “Well, go to Him,” and shot her and killed her. And the reason I wrote the song, is that I realize that this is a decision every single one of us must make.
SCH: What do you think of the recent commitment on the part of Christians to make films that inspire and impact our culture, and the rise in popularity of faith-based films?
PB: I think it’s divine and inspiring. God is using people with the right experience, motives, and talent, and even those who provide the funding. I just saw Miracles from Heaven and it is well done and undeniably true, and it would stand with any current film in quality. These stories are being told so believers and nonbelievers alike are intrigued. Vampires, Batman and Superman will always get more people to the box office, but the movie industry is learning that well-told and well-made faith-based movies can be profitable.
SCH: As you reflect on your life, what do you believe to be your greatest accomplishment?
PB: That my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. And I didn’t do it. Jesus did it for me. It is the greatest thing about Pat Boone.
No one can argue with that. But Pat has received many honors. He was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. His last album, “Legacy,” features 17 all new recordings of original Gospel songs. As an ardent supporter for Israel, he wrote the words for the song “This Land is Mine” from the 1960 Exodus movie. The song is so dear to the hearts of many in Israel, that many call it Israel’s second national anthem. Pat recently received the Cultural Impact Award from Friends of Zion Museum Founder Michael Evans Jr. and Israeli Chairman Yossi Peled for the writing of this song. That may be his greatest legacy.
If you loved God’s Not Dead, you’ll love God’s Not Dead2. It is even better. For more info go to Godsnotdeadthemovie.com
Don’t miss our Premiere of ‘God’s Not Dead 2’ Red Carpet & Celebration