Last week, God’s Not Dead 2 hit the nation’s movie screens. The sequel to the 2014 sleeper hit tells the story of Grace Wesley, a high school teacher dragged into court for talking about Jesus in her classroom. The movie imagines a hostile government bent on rooting out any trace of religion in public life. As the prosecuting attorney threatens, “We’re going to prove once and for all that God is dead.”
The timing of this film’s release may have been intentional.
Mario Marazziti is a member of Italy’s lower house of parliament, but most of his time is spent working globally to end the death penalty. Marazziti, a Catholic and a founder of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, encouraged Pope Francis to call for a moratorium on the death penalty, which he did in February. “On the global scene, no one has worked harder with me to abolish the death penalty than this man,” said Sister Helen Prejean, author of the book Dead Man Walking. Marazziti influenced two American governors to end the death penalty, Bill Richardson in New Mexico and Pat Quinn in Illinois. He worked with an Italian company to take a drug used for lethal injections off the market. A hundred and five countries no longer have the death penalty, and another 60 have not used it in a decade (New Yorker, March 18).