Religulous

In Religulous politically provocative talk show host Bill Maher skewers the current state of organized religion. This hot-button documentary makes stops in Jerusalem, the Vatican and other holy destinations. It is hard to call a film controversial when its maker is only asking people to discuss the reason for their religious faith, but this documentary was labeled controversial, nonetheless. Bill Maher, an agnostic comedian created this study of the motivations of people from various faiths. He doesn’t humiliate them or attack them for committing to a way of life that he doesn’t subscribe to. He just asks – “why do you believe?” But, Religulous is successful at showing how the most adamantly religious are often so stubbornly unwilling to entertain the idea that their faith might not be the one true faith. A few of the subjects allowed Maher to quiz them without becoming irritated, but the majority of them only agreed to the interview so that they can promote their God while insisting that all others are imposters. Maher is outspoken about how absurd he believes the concept of religion is, and he is very funny about it. The ultra-religious are outspoken about how they believe they are right and everyone else is wrong, and they are usually humorless. It is this contrast that makes Religulous so good. As someone who studied religions in an academic setting, I can say that Bill Maher did his homework. His questions were mostly backed by arguments and points brought up in scholarly research and debates. Mr. Maher interviews members, ex-members and leaders of many faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism and Scientology. His interviews include people who are by any definition experts in their field, whether it is science or religion, and people who are less so: ranging from televangelists to politicians to monks. Any who get skewered in this film are skewered by their own words. I personally love the fact that all of these religious leaders aren’t even able to answer pretty basic questions. Most of the criticisms leveled at this movie are from people claiming that he selectively chose his clips and his people were unqualified to speak on the subject, etc etc. The truth is, he interviews people from a wide range of backgrounds, from the most uneducated trucker to the head of the human genome project to a senator. While Mr. Maher openly states his own viewpoints, he consistently shows respect for everyone (though not necessarily to their religion or position). Early in the film, he even allows a group of people to lay on hands and pray for him. He doesn’t exactly attack hypocrisy as much as give hypocrites an excellent opportunity to reveal themselves. The most argumentative and controversial statements come from religious scholars, not Mr. Maher. Bill Maher is not an atheist; he has clearly and publicly stated that he feels atheism is just as epistemologically flawed as religion in that it claims to absolutely know inaccessible truths. The film brings up some good points about the blind leading the blind, the greed and profits in religion, and the intolerant and totally un-Christian attitude many Christians take. I’m glad Maher shows these nuts their flawed and hypocritical way of thinking. They need some confrontation because if they want to ask what would Jesus do? He would not throw gay people into the street and tell them He hates them. It’s “Love thy neighbor”. Not, Love thy straight, Christian neighbor. Whether you happen to be atheist, agnostic or a devout member of some religion, there is great fun to be had here. As well as an opportunity to think about some issues that can add depth to your position whatever it may be. I avoided this movie for years because I thought it would bash all religions. It does, but it is informative and makes you think. Bill did his homework and put together a great documentary. The film’s title “Religulous” is fitting because that’s what Maher reveals about faith-the absurdity inherent in it no matter who is defending it. Finally a movie that brings to light the fact that there are a lot of religious nutjobs out there. In powerful positions. Who clearly make important decisions based on what the Bible tells them, instead of using scientific evidence, logic and reason. He really exposes how crazy religious fanatics really are. This film was much smarter, much funnier, and much better than I had expected, and that is impressive, because I had expected it to be good. One of the best documentaries ever… It’s an honest look at religion from a modern viewpoint. As a viewer you can see how strong many people still hold on to old values that are not relevant in today’s society. Overall a great movie. Highly recommended. Brilliantly funny. Documentary 2008 R 1hr 41m.

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