On April 1, Box Office Mojo reports that God’s Not Dead 2 has come out of the gate strong as number four at the box office and one of the top family movies for April. Right behind it is Miracles From Heaven, which has come out in theaters mid March. Zootopia continues to do well as the box office as number two.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant, follows Miracles From Heaven, as number six. Risen has moved down on the box office chart but is still in theaters as a top pick. The Young Messiah is also still in theaters and remains a top pick, as well. All are quality movies with universal themes and current relevancy for a range of ages.
The most timely and relevant of these movies in God’s Not Dead 2 which deals with issues of freedom of speech and religious liberty in public arenas, especially in public schools for teachers. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Further, in general, we have freedom of expression and speech in American public arenas, as long as there is no breach of the peace or cause for violence.”
These are broad principles, which the National Center for Life and Liberty (NCLL) addresses as to what is considered legal in public schools for students and teachers. For example, NCLL asserts that “…students may voluntarily pray individually or in groups before meals, tests and at any other time when the prayer will not disrupt classroom instruction.
“Teachers have a similar constitutional free speech right to voluntarily pray or discuss religion with co-workers in the same manner that they might gather to discuss politics or a recent movie… Only official teacher-led prayer and Bible reading or spiritual interactions between students and teachers have been held to be unconstitutional.”
Further, NCLL contends, “…Students may bring Bibles to school and read them during free reading time…Teachers may do the same. However, in an increasing number of jurisdictions, they are not permitted to keep their Bibles on their desks as this has been interpreted by some courts as an endorsement (or “establishment”) of religion, thus violating the First Amendment.”
The top picks in redemptive, family movies for quality, content, and relevance for the first week of April are the following: God’s Not Dead 2 (PG- all ages), Miracles From Heaven (PG-all ages), Risen (PG-13, teens-adults), and The Young Messiah (PG-13, all ages).
Written by Diane Howard, Ph.D. (Performance Studies), dianehoward.com