'God's Not Dead 2' Star Jesse Metcalfe Credits God, Prayer With Saving Him from Downward Spiral

Mar 23, 2016 12:57 PM EDT

Jesse Metcalfe, one of the stars of the upcoming faith-based film "God's Not Dead 2", has credited God with saving him from a "dark time" and giving him the strength to abandon a life of damaging behavior.  

The 37-year-old actor, known for his roles in "John Tucker Must Die," "Desperate Housewives" and "Dallas," told Fox411 that he first encountered God when he participated in an Alcoholics Anonymous program five years.

"[Faith is] really important to me," Metcalfe told the news outlet. "I really discovered a connection with a higher power and with God as I understand him probably five years ago when I got sober through the 12 steps of Alcoholic [sic] Anonymous."

"A large part of that program is giving the will and character life over to God - or a God as you understand him - and prayer is also a big part of that program as well. I feel that that really helped me overcome a difficult time in my life and since then has really deepened and enriched my life in a lot of ways," the actor added.

"God's Not Dead 2," which hits theaters Easter weekend tells the story of a high school teacher (Melissa Joan Hart) 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.

The general topic being discussed in the classroom had been about non-violent approaches, and the student asked, "Isn't is a lot like what Jesus meant when He said, 'Love Your Enemies?'"

The trouble begins after a male student in the same classroom informs his parents that the teacher's response included the words of Jesus Christ. As the battle escalates, the help of the ACLU is enlisted, whose representative decides to "prove that once and for all, God is dead."

The ACLU attorney states to the lawyer representing the teacher: "I hate what your client stands for and what they are doing to our society."

The teacher's lawyer gets held in contempt of court because of his answer: "If we're going to insist that a Christian's right to believe is subordinate to all other rights, then it's not a right."

The student whose question prompted the controversy then has to decide which side she will take. She says, "I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world, then stand with the world and be judged by God."

Hart previously told Fox411 that Hollywood can be "scary" for Christians, but she is not afraid to stand up for her faith: "You know, it can be a little scary sometimes to say anything. These days, it's a talent to be politically correct," she said earlier this year. "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," she continued. "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. I don't judge others and I'm definitely not trying to hurt anyone's feelings."

Like the 2014 film, "God's Not Dead 2" is produced by Pure Flix film and was also directed by Harold Cronk and scripted by Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon. In addition to Hart and Metcalfe, the film also stars Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Pure Flix 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).