Do You Believe the Reviews of “Do You Believe?”

[Excerpts from my guest post at The Friendly Atheist.]

By Bo Gardiner

They’re baaaaaaackkkk… those smarmy Christians and evil atheists have returned to your neighborhood theater! Pure Flix’s Do You Believe? opened yesterday in theaters nationally to the same critics-hate-it/audiences-love-it response that their film God’s Not Dead received last year.

You may remember… my atheist-annotated trailer for it:

Do You Believe?’s predecessor God’s Not Dead was a disturbing collection of clichéd anti-atheist caricatures and American Christian persecution fantasies. Pure Flix marketed it well; thousands of churches held special screenings, and an online store sells GND shirts, hats, keychains, bracelets, window decals, and souvenir cups.

Did the filmmakers tone it down after hearing our criticism that GND encouraged divisive hatred and bigotry? With God’s Not Dead earning over $100 million worldwide on a $2 million investment, what do you think?…

At RogerEbert.com, Peter Sobczynski describes Do You Believe? as “punishingly preachy.” Comparing it to what he calls “the lunacies” of God’s Not Dead, which he describes as “pretty awful — a frequently ridiculous stew of straw man arguments, stacked decks, an overwhelming persecution complex,” he calls Do You Believe? “so ridiculously ham-fisted that it almost makes its predecessor seem reasonable and open-minded by comparison.” Of this new crop of the godless, Sobczynski says:

… the most grotesque of the bunch [is an] EMT [who] proselytizes to a dying accident victim instead of doing his actual job and winds up being sued for everything he has by the secular humanist widow and her money-loving, religion-hating lawyer… The lawyer, by the way, is married to a cynical doctor… who refuses to believe in miracles and, in one especially astonishing scene, gets irrationally upset at the sight of a couple saying grace before eating

Subtle as a sledgehammer to the toes and only slightly more entertaining

I quite like this guy, who surely deserves his place on the film criticism website that bears the name of the much-missed (atheist) Roger Ebert.

Jordan Hoffman at The Guardian had a similarly intelligent reaction:

It’s a fascinating look at the persecution complex many evangelical Christians feel…

Variety‘s Scott Foundas is equally blunt:

“Do You Believe?” is agitprop plain and simple, less interested in varieties of religious experience than in proffering the old televangelical/tent-revival assurances that faith will not just save your soul but also cure cancer, PTSD and whatever else ails you… “Do You Believe?” proves about as spiritually enlightening as a Kmart throw rug.

Even the Salt Lake Tribune calls Do You Believe? “preachy,” with “heavy-handed dialogue, thinly drawn characters” and “bad writing” that takes

predictable shots at family planning clinics, humanists and even science — with Sean Astin, as a cynical ER doctor, designated as the rationalist a-hole…

Several reviewers shared my sense of Do You Believe?‘s unpleasant racial overtones…

[For the full piece, see my latest guest post at The Friendly Atheist.]

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