Religion

Pretty broad title but I’m gonna hyper-focus it real quick.

Did you guys know there’s a movie called God’s Not Dead 2? Not even like a religious documentary, a feature-length scripted-narrative film. Yeah, I didn’t even know there was a first one but apparently it was SO IMPORTANT they made a sequel.

The movie is exactly what it sounds like: people protesting the separation of church and state, saying their faith is being silenced and Christians are being crucified.

Here’s a trailer if you can stomach it:

“We’re at war.”
“He will insist that faith is not on trial but that is exactly what is on trial.”
“I will not be afraid to say the name ‘Jesus’.”
And the gavel breaks?

This is clearly the worst movie ever made, strictly in a narrative sense and the melodrama involved, but in any case.

It’s not the fact that they made the movie I find distressing – although, yes, it’s absurd, and I can’t believe it was approved for production. The part I find disturbing is that I didn’t find out about this movie from religious friends or grandparents or some kind of news outlet or anything: it was one of the previews for Zootopia.

(Zootopia happens to be the best movie of 2016, but this isn’t about that, though I might write a review later…)

Zootopia is a kids movie (but it’s really really good js), so all of the trailers before it, including the one above, were for movies marketed towards kids. Marketed. Towards. KIDS. This crap is gonna be meant as some kind of family-friendly film!

I could maybe understand arguments about parents wanting their kids to learn about censorship or the discourse in the public education system but there are so many, better movies that do that. Freedom Writers handles systematic racism and classism in public education. Matilda deals with educational standardization and how creativity is often discouraged in a primary school setting. Remember the Titans is admittedly mostly about football but it deals with an ACTUAL HISTORICAL EXAMPLE OF PREJUDICE. To borrow a quote: “White people wanna be oppressed so bad.”

If an adult wants to be a religious zealot: that’s fine. They have all the facts, they are capable of critical thinking, it is completely within their rights to express their religion however they want.* But with kids it’s different. If you show a kid this ish, if you immerse them in this idea that anyone who opposes Christians is an evil Jesus silencer, they’re gonna grow up to be the kid who shoots Muslims after seeing American Sniper (another terrible movie: 0/10) or the one of a dozen kids on a random corner with a sign that says ‘God Will Punish You’. BECAUSE THEY DON’T KNOW ANY BETTER! You’re conditioning future assassins of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Er, that’s assassins affiliated with Westboro Baptist Church, not assassinating members of the church. Just to clarify.

Are those extreme examples? Probably. But you can’t nestle this neat little trailer in between The Secret Life of Pets and Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life. It’s not appropriate for this age group: it’s pushing the Christian agenda on kids who are just trying to figure out if they like art class better than science. They couldn’t even tell you that arts/sciences is a false dichotomy. THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT A DICHOTOMY IS.**

I was raised Catholic – baptism through confirmation, the whole bit – so I know a little bit about childhood conditioning. I’m still embarrassed by some of the arguments I used to have as a kid because I was so sure that God was the final word and no one else’s feelings mattered because that’s what we were always taught. If someone didn’t believe in God they were less than me. If someone supported something I was told God thought was wrong, they were cruel and evil and I didn’t like them anymore. I’m not kidding you: after high school I had to go back and make so many apologies to kids I fought with growing up because I didn’t have the chance to form my own thoughts as a kid: I believed what I was told followed my religion and that was good enough for me. Until it wasn’t.

Now, my conditioning was pretty harmless. It wasn’t too hateful, definitely nothing violent: we were more pretentious and snooty than anything else. But there’s worse out there, and it doesn’t wear off as fast. And this train-wreck of a movie is part of it.

“I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God.”

Yeah, that’s great Melissa Joan Hart, but God is what we call ‘unknowable’. You can’t possibly know what standing by God means. No one does. Your best bet at knowing what God wants is by supporting actual tangible humans so everyone can lead safer and happier lives.

Teach that to your kids.

-JM

*freedom to express religion does NOT include violence, hateful speech, or literal murder. Seriously, whose God do you think supports any of that? Zues, maybe.

**dichotomy- a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different. From the Greek ‘dikho’ which means ‘in two parts’. Which everyone would know if we focused more on linguistics instead of religious freedoms in schools. JS.

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