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Movie Mom


Religulous — Bill Maher Attacks Religion

posted by Nell Minow

Professional Enfant Terrible Bill Maher has a new movie called Religulous in which he attacks religion, religious beliefs, and believers.

Beliefnet founder Steven Waldman discusses his decision to run ads for this movie on his blog. He says the movie is “funny, offensive, slippery, and more challenging than I expected.” He accepts the creation of a “Disbeliefnet” website as a compliment.

We have great confidence in the power of faith and the sincerity of believers. In the movie he casts believers as being a) against free speech b) humorless and c) idiots.

Let’s show him that he’s wrong on all counts. If you see the movie, please come here, Movie Mom, Idol Chatter, or to our forums – a hot discussion is already going on here — not only discuss it but also to speak about what faith or spirituality means in your life. Tell us how faith, or your spiritual practice, has made you a better person or your world a better place. If you hate the movie (as many of you will), prove Maher wrong.

Like Waldman, I believe that faith is not worth much unless it can withstand attacks by non-believers. And like many religious leaders, I believe that believers often fail to live up to the principles of their denominations, and appreciate those who expose hypocricy — that makes us stronger and better. I will be seeing the movie tomorrow afternoon and posting my review Thursday night. I look forward to your reactions.



  • jestrfyl

    What other orgamization has to set up hundreds of outlets, often in the center fo town and at busy intersections, but then not expcected to be measured for authenticity, hyocricy, and basic community value? Given the tenor of the times, a movie like this is no surprise. I am looking forward to seeing it – if the theaters in our area are brave enough to show it. I am often suspicious of any organzation that cannot stand this sort of scrutiny. I wonder how the Academy of Motion Arts will catagorize this. WIll it be a documentary, a funny commentary, or something along the lines of “Spinal Tap” or the other mockumentaries?

  • Christian Toto

    Eagerly await your review. What struck me while watching it was that Maher didn’t pick any truly savvy/sharp/sophisticated minds to interview … he chiefly picked on those who were easy to mock or upset.

  • Nell Minow

    Yes, Christian, I was disappointed with his cheap shots and easy targets. I look forward to your review as well!
    Jestrfyl: I agree that the strongest and most vibrant structures are those that welcome challenges.

  • movie viking

    Fair challenges to religion are – fair. A fair critique, with well researched comments would be worth viewing, even by the faithful.
    Will Bill Maher use fair tactics? Or – will he use innuendo, mockery, out-of-context quotes, name calling?
    Will his film be noted for its cutting insight? Its well researched critiques? Or for its crass humor?
    Cheap shots? Or Careful Scholarship?
    You tell me!

  • Nell Minow

    You are asking the right questions, movie viking (great screen name!), and I will do my best to address them in my review. Thanks!

  • iorek

    It would be a lot harder for Maher to get away with such broad stereotypes if more religious people behaved religiously. In the middle east and in parts of this country, religious fundamentalists have become associated with anger, indignation and political intolerance. Where are all of the Mother Teresas? Why are we plagued with so many Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells who are tell us that hurricanes are God’s way of punishing us for tolerating gay people?Mahers movie draws a distinction between people who behave in a “Christ-like” way (which he approves of) and people who behave in a “Christian” way (which he does not). I think that is a valid distinction.

  • Bill Millar

    The movie is fair. It just questions religion – not just Christianity, but all religions, each of which say they are the best and the only true religion.
    Maher shows religion is an invention of man. He shows how the concept of virgin birth, for example, showed up in ancient Egyptian religions and many other religions pre-dating Christ. He shows how stories like walking on water, miricles, ascending into heaven after being killed, etc. – these stories were also told in other religions about characters in those religions.
    He shows how faith is basically believing in something you know is probably not true, and rejecting any form of reason as applied to your religion.
    Religion has caused some good and a lot of bad (election of George W. Bush, war, death to hundreds of thousands in the Middle East, etc).
    Maher says we have no way of knowing about God or whether he exists. So let’s just admit that obvious fact.
    Bob

  • Peggy Bryant

    I was watching the Academy Awards last night and on top of seeing Shawn Penn kissing another man on TV-made me sick. I had to endure that horrible Bill Maher. He has got to be the most God hater in the world or one of them. He has spend his life putting down our faith. He must have had a horrible upbringing as a child or like some in this world-just a pure evil person.
    I will think again-before I watch the Academy Awards again. Their lack of good taste shows just how Hollywood is going to the dark side.
    At a time when our country and our economy is falling apart-people should see that the bible is playing our just as it says. God help us all that we are not caught up in this horrible life that these so-called good people express over the air and most important-to our youth. We need to all get down on our knees and pray!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks for the comment, Peggy. In Maher’s film he talks about his upbringing and interviews his mother. He was raised Catholic. He found himself praying as recently as a few years ago when he was in a tough situation. But he says that what people do in the name of God and religion is so filled with bigotry and violence that he has concluded that faith does more harm than good. I do not agree with him, but I do not think he is evil or that he holds an evil position. I think that the best way to counter his arguments is to demonstrate that people of faith are compassionate, generous, and loving — and judge not.
    I would rather see people of faith sickened by hatred, poverty, and cruelty than by a kiss. Penn played a real-life heroic figure in “Milk,” and if the film helps some people understand a little more about love, courage, devotion, and dignity I hope the broadcast brings that message to a wider audience.

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