Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Today in Poor Oppressed Christian Film

Many modern political attacks make use of one simple but highly effective tactic. You identify your candidate's weakest point, and then proceed to attack their opponent for the same thing. When George W. Bush ran against John Kerry in the 2004 US Presidential Election, Republicans felt that Bush's stint in the National Guard stacked up poorly against Kerry's war experience in Vietnam and proceeded to attack Kerry's service record. Likewise, the whole "birther" phenomenon started out as a similar attack in 2008. John McCain was born on a military base in Panama, and Republicans worried that Democrats might question his natural-born citizenship on those grounds. So they put forth allegations that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, which totally eclipsed the circumstances of McCain's birth and took on a bizarre life of their own.

Poor Oppressed Christians also make use of this same tactic incessantly, as illustrated by the new Christian film God's Not Dead currently in theaters. According to this review the film is not particularly good and I have no intention of seeing it, but I want to highlight one of the main plot elements. The film is about a Christian college student who challenges an atheist philosophy professor to debate the existence of God, which is not necessarily a bad setup and could have been used well by a more skillful filmmaker. The key point that I want to highlight, though, is how this philosophical debate is set in motion.

The most worthwhile moments of God’s Not Dead come from Kevin Sorbo, of all people, who plays the film’s mustache-twirler of a villain, professor Jeffrey Radisson. Professor Radisson teaches an introduction to philosophical thought course that asks students, on the first day, to write on a sheet of paper that God is dead, then sign it for credit [emphasis mine], so that he can move past the early stuff and get to the things he finds more fulfilling. As Radisson, Sorbo is playing a transparently awful person, but he has fun with his most villainous moments and even locates a few notes of sorrow and regret in Radisson’s backstory.

Now that you've read that, go ahead and re-read this post of mine from last week. And consider that no atheist philosophy professor would ever be able to pull a stunt like that depicted in God's Not Dead and get away with nothing more than a debate. Requiring students to renounce their religious beliefs for credit violates not only academic ethics but scores of equal opportunity laws, and any college that employed a professor such as the fictional Jeffrey Radisson would rapidly be sued into oblivion even if they managed to salvage their accreditation. But apparently this is the sort of thing that the Poor Oppressed Christians believe really happens at colleges and universities.

Now the reality of the situation is the story from my previous post. It's not atheist professors out there trying to force Christians to renounce their beliefs, but rather Poor Oppressed Christian teachers trying to force kids who follow other religions to renounce theirs. For credit. And we're not talking about college students, who are at least adults with some degree of agency, but sixth graders! If anything, that's even more offensive than Radisson's actions in the film, and in reality, it's the Poor Oppressed Christians perpetrating it - and then falsely accusing others of doing the same. Isn't there a commandment or something against that?

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