Enough is Enough

When is Humanity Going to Get That We’re All in This Together?

Religulous: The Best Christmas Movie Ever

Posted by honestpoet on December 25, 2008

I was afraid to watch it for awhile…afraid Bill Mayer would be too obnoxious, too bitchy, in that way that some atheists can be. But he presented himself as an agnostic, fully, and even showed himself with his mother and sister, after talking about his religiously mixed childhood (raised Catholic, but with a Jewish mother), an interaction that shows him in a sympathetic light and makes his skepticism seem the only logical outcome of his upbringing. It’s clear that what he wanted to present as the best approach to any claims about what happens after you die is as a skeptic. What he presents as a value is doubt rather than faith.

The movie is hilarious (I could just kiss whoever edited it, interrupting the interviews with bits of footage perfectly timed and placed), and poignant (he approaches the religious people he talks to with varying degrees of care and compassion, as merited), and maybe even a little scary if you haven’t already faced up to the mess that religious fundamentalism is leading the world into, namely nuclear confrontation between religious nutjobs.

He also gives fair play to nutty religions like scientology and cannabis worship. Of course, Mormonism gets a few good pokes.

He points out that the non-religious in this country make up a larger minority than blacks or gays, and that we really ought to make ourselves heard and demand that our leaders take our perspective into account. I think he’s right.

There’s one moment when he’s interviewing a Senator, an evangelical, who admits, laughing, while talking about Creationism, that “you don’t have to pass an IQ test to enter the Senate.” It takes him about fifteen seconds to realize that he’s just called himself (and some of his colleagues) a dumbass, and his face falls. It’s a riot.

Unless you’re a total fundamentalist, with your mind cemented shut to reason, you ought to give this film a gander.


5 Responses to “Religulous: The Best Christmas Movie Ever”

  1. Elodie said

    I haven’t seen it yet, and know it won’t be coming to this little Bible-belt town anytime soon. But I did overhear two friends of mine talking about it. These are smart, educated people.

    “After awhile, it just made me very, very uncomfortable,” said Catholic man.

    “Oh, really,” I interrupted from across the room. “What was it that made you uncomfortable?” I was thinking he was going to say that it made him doubt his faith, or at least question it. Think about it.

    “It’s just that Bill Maher is so abrasive. He’s obnoxious.”

    Then the woman he was talking to hopped in with, “Yes, he really is. He’s a homosexual, you know.”

    “Um, last time I looked, he was really into dating hot Black women who were always trying to pin a paternity suit on him.”

    “Yes, but it’s a front,” she replied. That man’s gay and angry and just wants to take it out on everybody.”

    “Oh, yes. I agree,” said her friend, who happens to be gay, himself.

    I’ve found that almost without fail, people view anyone who questions the existence of God as rude and obnoxious, no matter how you try to bend over backward being polite and noninsulting.

    My boyfriend is so sensitive about it he jumps down my throat anytime I say ANYTHING about it, which is only on occasion. But his favorite line is, “You don’t have to make snide remarks EVERY TIME God is mentioned.

    Well, I don’t. But to him, he’s so sensitive about it, I think even when I don’t say anything, he’s imagining what I might say, and it becomes fact. So I asked him why he’s so threatened by it. I mean it’s okay for him to praise the Lord and insist on prayer before a City Hall meeting, but it’s rude if I express my own feelings. Heck he evens thinks it’s rude if I don’t bow my head, just to go along with everybody.

    So, he says the reason he gets so upset is because he feels like I’m saying I think he and everybody else is stupid to believe it. Well, he’s right, I guess. I do think they’re stupid…or at least brainwashed and at the very least gullible as all get out.

    But I also think it’s time we spoke up because of the very thing you mentioned — nuclear war among the fundies.

    Remember when those morons all killed themselves in that big house in Palos Verdes because they thought they were going to hop a ride on the Hale Bopp comet? The very people who laughed at them are the same ones who believe Jesus turned water into wine and walked on water. They’re the same ones who believe Moses talked to a burning bush and Jonah got swallowed by a whale. They believe Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, and if you really stop and think about it, that’s the most ridiculous one of all. Geeze! They really think a virgin gave birth to a fellow who flew off to heaven after he got up from being slaughtered.

    And if you’re so brainwashed into believing it that to even question it is the height of impropriety, then how do you argue with it? You’ve got to start making them feel stupid about it. Because if somebody doesn’t start doing it, we’re doomed.

  2. honestpoet said

    Exactly, Elodie! Did you watch the Sam Harris videos I posted a few articles back? That’s his point: it’s time to end the taboo on questioning these articles of faith, because of the effect that belief structures have on behavior. He became an activist after 9/11. When your Catholic friends get all defensive about the impropriety of talking about religious belief, remind them that it’s religion that caused that tragedy. Those men would not have flown those planes into those buildings had they not been convinced they were going to heaven as martyrs.

    Bill Maher makes the point at the end, that moderate religious people need to look themselves in the mirror and realize that the solace and emotional comfort they enjoy from religion comes at a very high price.

  3. Elodie said

    I did watch a couple of them, Wendy. But I’ve read The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation. My nephew is reading it now and thinks it should be required reading for everyone. So do I.

  4. […] in the street in Amsterdam (if you haven’t watched it yet, you really should check out Religulous, which we watched again this […]

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