Well, it might be or it might not be. I love the sentiment of generosity in that movie but the rest of the message, well...
Let's summarize the plot: George Bailey gets whacked upside the head, loses his hearing, and can't join the army. Fortunately, the whack didn't destroy his ambition; love did that. So instead of going to the big city to be a little fish, he stays "home" and works at the family's savings & loan, then has a few kids and fixes up This Old House.
Being a little soft-hearted (or -headed) he lets his "special" employee take cash to the big bank and the retard loses it to the mean old crippled guy. Yes, Tiny Tim has grown up to be a selfish, mean-spirited MoneyBags who wants nothing less than to destroy all competition and be King of Bedford Falls. Bwahahahahaaaa!!!!!! And we all know that when you put two people with disabilities in the same room together hilarity ensues!
This is Mr. Potter's moment! He calls in feckless George's loan, and now George, Mr. Ambition, contemplates suicide. Because of course we all know that when you have a wife & kids the best thing you can do for them is jump off a bridge. Naturally they'd rather have money than a husband and father.
Oh wait! Here comes an Angel straight from HEAVEN to convince George he shouldn't jump. Why? Because George is popular and lots of people are praying for him. Now we know that all those people who jumped from the Twin Towers on 9/11 were unpopular anyway, since nobody could have been praying for them or else they'd have been rescued.
So this angel, instead of saying "it's only money and there are worse things than being in debt," grants George the wish to know what Bedford Falls would have been like without him. Oh my it's terrible. Mr. Potter is rolling all over everyone, his wife is *gasp* an old maid and *BIG GASP* a LIBRARIAN! *faint* He regrets his wish, his life is restored, and he finds out that he's POPULAR! How does he know he's popular? People shower him with cash to bail him out of a tough spot.
The moral of the story: what goes around comes around? If you're popular God will intervene? Money is the most important sign of love?
Here's what this atheist would like to see:
George Bailey doesn't even know the money's missing yet. God is pissed by what Mr. Potter did, and of course he saw the whole thing. He doesn't have to wait to hear about it on the prayer party line. He smites Mr. Potter, perhaps with a good smack upside the head, and the wad of cash falls to the ground in full view of everybody. The retard who misplaced it is suddenly cured of his affliction, grabs the money and tells everyone exactly how much money it was to prove it belonged to the Baileys. Mr. Potter goes to jail, the retard is now qualified to take over the business, and George moves to TheBigCity with his family after scoring a hostile takeover of Mr. Potter's bank.
That's how a powerful, omniscient, loving, just god would handle the situation. Clarence would get his wings upon arrival in Heaven just for being a nice guy, because that's what God really wants to see -- nice people getting their reward.
Instead, we have a God who needs to be implored for mercy, and is so powerless he has to employ trickery to save a life. He runs heaven like the army, with ranks and seemingly impossible tasks to complete to get promoted.
Theologians probably don't like this movie much, either, but it resonates with people even decades after its release because it fulfills the fantasy role that religion has in so many lives: prayer works, God works in mysterious ways, the "reality" one person experiences is really true no matter how bizarre, and even though money doesn't matter, in the end it really does.
Of course this could never happen today. Banks have security cameras now so they don't need God looking in on them.