“God’s Not Dead 2,” the faith-based film that opens on Friday, is “about taking the conversation about faith in the public forum to a new level.”
That’s according to Melissa Joan Hart, the actress who stars in “God’s Not Dead 2.” The film is the sequel to 2014’s “God’s Not Dead,” which was budgeted at $2 million and grossed over $60 million.
In “God’s Not Dead 2” Hart plays teacher Grace Wesley, who gets into trouble in her history class when she responds to a student’s question and compares the teachings of Jesus Christ with those of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The school demands she apologize for violating the separation of church and state, and when Grace refuses a civil rights group convinces the student’s parents to sue Wesley.
In a recent interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Hart described the film and her role:
“For the longest time, while I played a witch on television [on ‘Sabrina, The Teenage Witch’], the Christian community attacked me for popularizing the magic aspects on that secular TV show,” Hart said.
“Now it’s the opposite. I’m getting grief for playing the good Christian woman who is being persecuted by the outside world!”
The actress, who makes no secret of her strong commitment to Christianity, said she felt a calling to make this film. “Today, there are a lot of Christians being persecuted for their faith,” said Hart, maintaining the strict separation of church and state has been taken to a new level, “far beyond the freedoms this country was founded on.”
In the process of making this movie, she was made aware of a couple of ironies. “In the past, mainstream Christians were members of what we could call the big powerhouse religion at the time — and may have been doing a fair amount of persecuting minority religions. But now those Christians feel their faith is something that is trampled on or ignored. Now the tables have turned.”