The Nazi hate propaganda film “The Eternal Jew” made overtly vicious comparisons of Jewish people to rats. The film’s extreme portrayals tended to be dismissed as ridiculous. Ultimately, the Nazis propagandists found the more subtle stereotypes like those portrayed in “Jud Süss” to be more easily accepted than the obviously bigoted portrayals in “The Eternal Jew.” If we fast forward to 2014, we can see the use of subtle stereotypes in “God Is Not Dead” which are risky and deserve some examination.
“God Is Not Dead” dramatizes confrontations between the atheist Professor Radisson who teaches philosophy and one of his students Josh Wheaton. The most obvious misrepresentation involves the atheist Professor Radisson. Radisson demands that students say “God is dead” as a course requirement. In public universities, discrimination based on religion would be illegal. However, in some private Christian colleges, faculty and students may be removed from campus if they do not maintain their faith.
In another scene, Radisson suggests that his girlfriend Mina lacks intelligence because of her belief in God prompting Mina to leave him.
Another atheist character Marc Shelley has succeeded in his career but dumps his girlfriend who finds she has cancer. Shelley tells her that she’s breaking their agreement by being sick and no longer useful to him. Shelley avoids visiting his mother who has dementia, and when he does visit his mother, she claims that his success comes from Satan.
Also in the movie is a woman from a Muslim family who wants to be Christian. She wears a head covering to please her Muslim father who later beats her for saying that she looks to Jesus to be her savior.
After hearing more about God in philosophy class, student Martin Yip from the People’s Republic of China gets hostile responses from his Asian father for asking questions related to Christianity.
During confrontations in class, Josh Wheaton presents the design argument and then accuses the Prof. Radisson of hating God and refusing to acknowledge the evidence. In the end, the atheist Professor Radisson gets hit by a car and dies in the street begging for God to save him.
Like “Jud Süss,” the film “God Is Not Dead” presents stereotypes but this time involving atheists, Muslim people, educated people, and Asians. The stereotypes call into question the dedication of those groups of people to human rights, checking the evidence, and caring about others. I’m not going to pretend that unfortunate things never happen. However, I will call into question the idea that kindness, fairness, and reasonableness belong exclusively to any particular group. The fact is that any person who doesn’t care about others, check evidence, and respect human rights risks causing harm. The film “God Is Not Dead” makes one thing clear which is that prejudice is not dead.
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