As of 2016, 25 percent of Americans said they had no religious affiliation, and that number is even bigger in Europe. We assume this is in no small part thanks to the efforts of religious filmmakers, who work night and day to make their own faith look both silly and low-budget. That's not what they're trying to do, but failing extravagantly is still an accomplishment ... in its own way. Especially when you fail as hard as ...
God's Not Dead is possibly the most successful Christian movie ever, thanks to the sheer unapproachable star power of both Kevin Sorbo and Dean Cain. Both! The casting alone must have cost thousands of dollars. The film focuses on the conflict between an atheist philosophy professor, played by Sorbo, and a Christian student named Josh Wheaton. (No relation. They're not even spelled the same. What is wrong with you?)
On Wheaton's first day in the clearly evil professor's class, Sorbo forces his students to sign a declaration that "God is dead," promising them a failing grade if they refuse. Wheaton objects, not on the grounds that it's totally illegal and he's rightfully worried about wasting time on this class when the professor is probably already fired, but because he's a Christian. The professor challenges Wheaton to a philosophy duel, because nobody involved with this movie has ever even thought about a real college, and the pair spend the next three classes making their respective cases for and against the existence of God. The power-mad professor leaves it up to the rest of the students to decide if Wheaton passes or fails, presumably because he has a much better position waiting and desperately needs to get fired, like, yesterday.
Ultimately, Wheaton wins the debate, accomplishing in a mere three short lectures what the world's greatest philosophers have failed to do for centuries, and passes his class. Never mind that God tends to frown on people who insist on proof of His existence. Oh yeah, and the evil professor is immediately hit by a car, because this movie was written by a drunk toddler.
Having come to fear God in a "knife-wielding maniac" kind of way, you better believe that professor converts as he lay dying. That's the lesson of the movie: Eschew faith all you want, but you better at least pay lip service to God, because He is a murderous lunatic.
In this seven-minute 3D cartoon from Jack "Crazy Hobos Cross The Street To Avoid ME" Chick himself, two macho truck drivers named Billy Joe and Duke start off mocking another truck in the parking lot that's decorated with the words "JESUS SAVES." They soon regret it when the man-monster of a driver emerges and intimidates them into having coffee with him to discuss why they think Jesus was, quote, "a sissy." Beef Mountain explains that Jesus was in fact super tough, because even though he had all the power of Heaven on standby, he held back, even while he was being beaten to death -- much in the same way a big dude wouldn't pick on someone weaker than him. We remember the moral of that story being slightly different, but Big McLargehuge convinces Billy Joe and Duke to accept Jesus as their lord and savior, or at least pretend to so the giant doesn't eat them.
Where it gets weird (it wasn't already?) is when David the Goliath continues on to say that Jesus will return "in a few years" (the same is said in the original Chick Tract this short is based on, which was published in 1978) to "wipe out the world's armies" and commence Judgment Day. After that, God will physically pick you up and throw you into a lake of fire.
So yes, Jesus is tough because he is merciful. But God is tough because he will straight fuck you up. Look into his eyes and tell us he won't:
Old Fashioned was supposed to be a Christian alternative to Fifty Shades Of Grey, even released in theaters the same month as the first Fifty Shades movie. But if you take all of the sinful, sexy BDSM out of Fifty Shades Of Grey, it's nothing but a movie about an abusive relationship. Which is exactly what Old Fashioned did.
At the start of the movie, our hero Clay refuses to even go into a room with love interest Amber, ostensibly to protect her honor. Already he's showing the kind of sexual paranoia that would get you a vice presidency. He judges her entire personality according to his whims, grills her on things like her stance on capital punishment, her pet peeves, the number of children she wants, and the number of sexual partners she has had, then literally grades her down if she gives an answer he doesn't like. It's like some horrible cross between The Handmaid's Tale and Cambridge Analytica. When she says that she doesn't have experience caring for children, he stops the date immediately and drags her to his friend's house to force her to prepare baby food for their infant son. Again, none of this is a sexy game, just straight up boner-free humiliation. When Amber breaks down and asks him to compliment her even once, to tell her she's beautiful, he responds "So you want me to lie?" That's not any kind of sub/dom relationship; that's good old-fashioned being a dick.
By the end, Clay does propose to Amber (but in the middle of the baby food aisle, just to hammer home exactly what she means to him) and finally relents enough to give her a kiss on the cheek. So dating a nice Christian boy means cheerfully submitting yourself to constant emotional degradation and suppressing every conflicting desire and thought, and you don't even get any good hard dicking for it.
Last Ounce Of Courage is the story of a small-town mayor and a group of Christian schoolchildren battling the evil ACLU, who want to take down the local Christmas tree, as well as the evil school principal, who removed Jesus from the Nativity scene. Luckily, the kids have a secret weapon: a heartfelt video made by a soldier overseas.
After a whole bunch of self-indulgent whining about the persecution of Christians, the kids gather the whole town together, lock the doors, and play their captive audience a video from a father in Iraq sending a message home to his family. Turns out it's one of the Christian kids' dads. It all gets you right in the feels before it hits you right in the gut. Just before the video ends, an explosion goes off, killing the father. The last frame is a close-up of his lifeless corpse.
Rocky Mountain Pictures
Rocky Mountain Pictures
To be fair, exploiting a soldier's death with a snuff film works, and Christmas is saved from the evil ACLU. Moral of the story: Uh ... whatever it takes to get your way?
In this 2014 film that's somewhere between "educational short" and "educational way-too-long," Kirk Cameron demonstrates his superior range by playing himself as an insane person. He starts by explaining that some people think Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and presents detract from the reason for the season, but they couldn't be more wrong. Turns out everything about Christmas, including the provably pagan or department-store-invented elements, actually has its origins in Jesus.
An example: You know how the date of Christmas is tied to the winter solstice and not Jesus's real birth date, right? Well, Kirk reasons that God invented the winter solstice, so both of those are really Christian things. Same for trees. Also, pagans decorating trees were actually stealing from Jesus, since Jesus decorated a wooden cross with his body. Jesus' limbs were also really stretched out on the cross, which means he invented stretching, but you're the one that mastered it, Kirk.
Samuel Goldwyn Films
As for ostentatious consumerism, why, that's the most religious thing, since from a child's perspective, a bunch of boxes around the tree is the skyline of New Jerusalem. Besides, giving children material gifts is a metaphor for Jesus giving all of mankind His material body. Silly us, we thought it was because of the three wise men thing.
Finally, Kirk regales us with a tale about Saint Nicholas attending a religious meeting, dragging a man who disagreed with him outside, beating him to death with a rod, then going home and announcing his intention to bless the children of the world. This is accompanied by the visual of a man dressed as Santa Claus staring into the camera and cracking his knuckles for a full minute.
Nobody could miss the moral of that story: Santa will kill you for no reason.
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Adam Koski also wrote a suspenseful horror novel about cults called Not Meant To Know. Jordan Breeding also writes for a whole mess of other people, the Twitter, and randomly did all the guitar work for God's Not Dead.
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