High school teacher Grace Wesley, played by Melissa Joan Hart in the new film “God’s Not Dead 2,” answers a question about Jesus in a public school and it lands her in hot water.
The school board demands an apology, which she never gives, and ultimately a civil liberty group takes her to court threatening to strip her of everything, including her faith. “Christians are still the fabric of the country. They are feeling like they have less of a voice. It is more politically correct than ever,” said actor Jesse Metcalfe, who plays Wesley’s attorney Tom Endler in the sequel to “God’s Not Dead,” which was produced by Pure Flix, the largest indie faith film studio in the world. “God’s Not Dead 2” explores the issue of faith in the public square and attempts to illustrate that for freedom of speech to truly work it must be enjoyed by all, including Christians who wish to speak freely about their religious beliefs.
“Our America believes in God. People are longing for something. Something is missing,” said Robin Givens, who plays Principal Kinney, during a recent press conference about the forthcoming movie. As the school principal she is forced to stand on the side of the law, ultimately against her own employee.
“I had a tough job,” Robin, who is a practicing Catholic, told The Tidings. “I can’t imagine not believing. I am this cerebral figure. Bad things happen. God in many respects has been the only father figure in my life. My character does believe, but she has to keep the law.”
Melissa Joan Hart, who is a devout Christian, slipped comfortably into her role as Grace Wesley. However, the film pushed her to use her raw emotions when portraying the trial scene in front of a packed courtroom.
“I had to break down in the courtroom. I went out raw,” Hart told The Tidings. “I had theologians pray over me to calm my heart.”
Historians and theologians were on set during production of the film. The film supports the fact that Jesus is an historical figure, and shows proof that he existed as a man, not just as a religious figure.
The actors said they hope young people will go see the film, in part because it presents facts about Jesus and his life on earth from a historical perspective.
“Being a part of this movie answered a lot of questions about factual things for me,” said Hart.
According to Metcalfe, he gravitated toward the religious film and “wanted to be a part of the debate.”
Givens said she chose to do the film after her sister suddenly died from breast cancer.
“No movie has made my family happier than when I took [this role],” said Robin, who said her own mother goes to Mass each day at 6:30 a.m.
The key message of “God’s Not Dead 2” is about tolerance and unity — and giving people hope for a brighter future, where Christians can be comfortable talking openly about Jesus.
Twenty-five court cases from around the country inspired the film. Writers Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon researched legal cases with real threats to religious liberty to write the movie’s fictional court case.
Konzelman and Soloman also wrote the original “God’s Not Dead,” which netted more than $100 million, proof that people are hungry for faith-based films, which is currently one of the biggest growing film categories in the U.S. and around the globe. “God’s Not Dead 2” opens in theaters nationwide April 1.