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'God's Not Dead 2' Star Melissa Joan Hart: 'Hollywood Gave Me Grief for Playing Strong Christian Woman Who Stands Up for Faith'

( [email protected] ) Mar 30, 2016 10:00 AM EDT
Melissa Joan Hart, star of the upcoming faith-based film "God's Not Dead 2", has said that she has received a great deal of "grief" from Hollywood for playing a Christian woman who stands up for her faith.
Actress Melissa Joan Hart poses as she arrives at the 2014 People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles, California January 8, 2014. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian

Melissa Joan Hart, star of the upcoming faith-based film "God's Not Dead 2", has said that she has received a great deal of "grief" from Hollywood for playing a Christian woman who stands up for her faith.

"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 during a recent interview with the Chicago Sun Times.

"Now it's the opposite. I'm getting grief for playing the good Christian woman who is being persecuted by the outside world!"

In God's Not Dead 2 -- the sequel to the popular 2014 film -- Hart plays Grace Wesley, a high school teacher who finds herself in legal trouble for answering a student's question about the similarities between Jesus' teachings to those of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.

As the religious freedom battle between Hart and the school escalates, the help of the ACLU is enlisted, whose representative decides to "prove that once and for all, God is dead."

The 31-year-old actress said that the story will resonate with believers, as many Christians today feel persecuted for their faith. She explained that the separation of church and state in America has been taken to a new level, which she said is "far beyond the freedoms this country was founded on."

"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," Hart added.

"But now those Christians feel their faith is something that is trampled on or ignored. Now the tables have turned."

She said that she hopes that the film, to hit theaters April 1, will "lead to a more respectful discourse on the role that religion should play in our society. It is a debate that is raging in our country."

During an earlier interview with Fox News, Hart revealed that her Christian faith and dedication to standing up for the Gospel motivated her to participate in the film

"These days, it's a talent to be politically correct," she said. "I find that as long as I don't care what other people think and I stand by my values, it doesn't matter what other people say. People are going to argue with me no matter if I say something controversial or not. I'm going to ignore them because I have every right to say what I want to say and put out there what I feel."

She added, "I don't judge others, and I'm definitely not trying to hurt anyone's feelings. As far as my faith, I think it is important to share that those are my values, and I'm going to use them to guide them through life, and I'm not going to steer away from it. It's part of who I am."

Like the 2014 film, God's Not Dead 2 is produced by PureFlix film and was also directed by Harold Cronk and scripted by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon.

In addition to Hart, the film, which will hit theaters in April, also stars Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Jesse Metcalfe (Dallas), PureFlix CEO David A.R. White (God's Not Dead), Hayley Orrantia (The Goldbergs), Sadie Robertson (Duck Dynasty), Robin Givens (Head of The Class), Maria Canals-Barrera (Cristela) and the late Fred Thompson (Law & Order).