On April 2, Box Office Mojo reports that “God’s Not Dead 2” has come out of the gate strong and going into the weekend in the theaters is number four at the box office. On April 2, Box Office News reports that it has already exceeded its budget. Right behind “God’s Not Dead 2” is “Miracles From Heaven,” which has come out in theaters mid March and has also exceeded its budget. “Zootopia” continues to do well as the box office as number two. ‘The Divergent Series: Allegiant,” follows “Miracles From Heaven,” as number six. “Risen” has moved down on the box office chart but is still in theaters as a top pick.”The Young Messiah” is also still in theaters and remains a top pick, as well. These movies are some of the better choices in theaters for the first week of April. All are quality movies with universal themes and current relevancy for a range of ages.
The most socially timely and relevant of these movies is “God’s Not Dead 2” which deals with issues of freedom of speech and religious liberty in public arenas, especially in public schools for teachers. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Further, in general, we have freedom of expression and speech in American public arenas, as long as there is no breach of the peace or cause for violence.
These are broad principles, which the National Center for Life and Liberty (NCLL) addresses as to some of their common applications today and what is considered legal in public schools for students and teachers. For example, NCLL asserts students may voluntarily pray individually or in groups before meals, tests, as long as the prayer does not disrupt classroom instruction. Teachers have a similar constitutional free speech right to voluntarily pray or discuss religion with co-workers. “…Only official teacher-led prayer and Bible reading or spiritual interactions between students and teachers have been held to be unconstitutional…”
Further, NCLL contends that students may bring Bibles to school and read them during free reading time. Teachers may do the same. “…however, in an increasing number of jurisdictions, they are not permitted to keep their Bibles on their desks as this has been interpreted by some courts as an endorsement (or “establishment”) of religion, thus violating the First Amendment. However, teachers may keep their Bibles in a drawer or on their electronic devices to read during their free time or when students are not in the classroom…”
Furthermore, NCLL states that religion, including Christianity, may be taught in public schools as part of the academic curriculum, if the religious instruction is done in a neutral, objective manner and the subject naturally arises in the course of the academic curriculum. “…Teachers may not, however, share their personal religious view…while in school or at school functions…Teachers may, however, discuss these matters with students on their own time while off school property (such as at church or other non-school-related functions)….A teacher must permit students to share religious opinions or information in class discussions or in student assignments where students choose the topics, as long as such sharing is relevant to the assignment or to the topic at hand and as long as the exchange is civil and not disruptive…”
The top picks in redemptive, family movies for quality, content, and relevance for the first week of April are the following: “God’s Not Dead 2” (PG- all ages), “Miracles From Heaven” (PG-all ages), “Risen” (PG-13, teens-adults), and “The Young Messiah” (PG-13, all ages).