I’m Not Ashamed (2016)

“I’m Not Ashamed” is a movie in desperate search of a martyr. Brian Baugh’s “I’m Not Ashamed” takes the true story of Rachel Joy Scott and completely sidesteps facts in favor of a sickeningly exaggerated tale of faith, and persecuted Christians in America. Rachel Joy Scott was the first victim of the Columbine massacre, and drew particular attention for a piece of art she made before the massacre that centered on two tear soaked eyes and their thirteen tears. Allegedly it was prophetic of what occurred in Columbine and represented the thirteen lives lost on that day. “I’m Not Ashamed” works over time to turn Rachel in to a female Jesus Christ who literally sacrificed herself during the Columbine massacre for some kind of holy purpose we will never understand. The writers turn Rachel in to a potential prophet taken down before her prime, and by turning the entire day in to a case of angry atheists taking their anger out on others rather than turning to God.

The writer is very clever in drawing the lines between what they perceive as good and evil in this world. Rachel is a girl who is miserable and headed down a dark path when she begins dabbling in atheism, and then finds joy and happiness when she becomes Christian. When she begins attending Columbine, she finds that the guys that are being tormented, many of whom would end up committing a massacre on the student body, admired Hitler. Despite being incredibly incorrect, there is a specific scene that makes it clear to the audience that Hitler was in fact atheist, and believed in evolution and natural selection. Thus in the end “I’m Not Ashamed” is about how a young Christian woman was struck down by a small group of evil murderous Atheists. Forget that they were tortured relentlessly, and forget that, once again, Hitler being atheist is such a shameless bold faced lie.

“I’m Not Ashamed” is an embarrassing and sickly sweet attempt to take the victim of a vicious murder that was much more complex than religious belief. It tries to turn her in to someone who foresaw everything that was going to happen in Columbine, because she was psychic, thanks her ability to read human emotions due to her strong religious conviction. I guess. Rachel (admittedly Sadie Robertson is adorable in her role, and seems to invest in making Rachel a heroine) is portrayed as something of a magical pixy that approaches the world with awe and whimsy, wears silly hats, and walks around asking her friends if there’s anything she can pray about for them. She’s one who takes the time out to find a lone follower of her youth group and try to fix his life when he reveals his home life is filled with poverty and drugs.

And yet she never actually does anything when the warnings signs appear in her high school as students are pushed around and smashed in to tables by a gang of jocks who brandish white backward baseball caps. And, of course, she’s only charitable and caring because she’s Christian while every other non-Christian are apathetic to the goings on in their school, and openly deride her for her beliefs. “I’m Not Ashamed” is a lot of foreshadowing to the inevitable Columbine massacre, and a ton of sermonizing about charity and Rachel’s magical ability to care for people. I’m sure in reality Rachel Joy Scott was a nice person with good intentions and a fine heart. I just wish we could hear her story without an agenda attached to it.

There are so many other movies out there, great movies, powerful movies, insightful movies about the Columbine massacre. “Bang, Bang You’re Dead,” “Elephant,” “Bowling for Columbine.” Seek them out, rather than “I’m Not Ashamed” which turns the entire day, in to a simplistic, exploitative, cheap black and white tale about how angry bullied teens became atheists and murdered a bunch of innocent people in their high school, first taking great delight in executing their devoutly Christian classmate. Prepare to see Rachel executed on-screen. No, seriously.