Bill Maher's Religulous Movie Mocks True Religion by Distortion, Focusing on Extremes, and Twisting the Truth
MINNEAPOLIS -- I debated whether or not to write this review because I have just seen one of the most anti-religious films -- touted as a "documentary" -- that I believe has ever been produced, and I don't want moviegoers to patronize this film for the wrong reasons.
The movie I am discussing here is Religulous, by so-called comedian Bill Maher. The movie is going head-to-head this weekend with Kirk Cameron's Fireproof, which opened last week, in a struggle for this week's cinema-going public's entertainment dollar.
I'll be blunt -- I hated all 101 minutes of it, but I believe that all serious-minded Evangelical believers should see this film. However, I do not suggest spending whatever it costs to get in at your local theater, or even waiting to buy it on DVD. Instead, go to your local library and borrow it from them. That way you won't be wasting your finances directly by putting money in Maher's pocket and supporting an idiotic movie at the Box Office.
If you consider yourself a thinking Christian, you need to see this film, if only to see what tortuous drivel we are up against as Bible-believing followers of Jesus Christ, from those with nothing but disdain for true faith.
Despite the fact I heard twitters of laughter from the audience in the theater, mostly from some blatantly crude scenes of cleverly-spliced footage, there is nothing inherently funny in this movie, which mocks Christianity, Judaism, and Islam in equal measures of barbaric vitriol.
Maher states his philosophy of non-belief up-front when he visits a Truck-stop Chapel: "I believe and preach the Gospel of 'I don't know,'" he tells the assembled truckers -- as if to say that nobody really knows -- and continues throughout to play a game of "Gotcha" with his interviewees, who range from Senators John McCain (who states that this country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles) and Joe Lieberman (well-known as an Observant Jew), creationist Ken Ham, and a host of other, lesser-known (to Evangelical believers) "characters" whom he tries to make appear as absolute buffoons.
Even though Maher grew up in a home with a Catholic father and a Jewish mother, he makes clear that he has no time for religion, touting the line that all religion does is lead people astray and cause division and strife the world over. He blames religion for all the world's ills, stating we would be far better off without it. This is an old, hackneyed line and one we've heard too many times before, but which still curries favor with those who consider themselves too intellectual, too clever, too smart, or -- perhaps more realistically in his eyes -- not dumb enough to investigate the real meaning of faith in God. We Evangelicals all know you don't have to check your intelligence at the door when you become a believer in Jesus Christ. Far from it.
How unfortunate that Maher allows himself no room for true belief, but instead mocks seeming contradictions in the Scriptures that for him are so inconsistent that he is unable to see the whole counsel of God given in the Bible from the panoply of general and specific revelation.
His basic philosophy is that religion is a neurological disorder that the world would best be rid of. His agenda is to destroy any credibility that people of faith may have, just because they believe. To him, believing in God is folly. Religion is poison. Where have we heard that before?
True, he does highlight the excesses of religion gone amuck, with which we as Evangelicals may be tempted to agree, but he focuses on the extremes rather than the norm of religious behavior. In the movie, this is disingenuous to a fault. Another hackneyed line we have heard a million times over.
Toward the end of the film, as he builds to his ultimate conclusion that we should all "grow up" and leave religion behind -- he states that "religion must die for mankind to live."
For Maher, there is no room for the good that religion and religious people have brought in the form of hospitals and medical care, schools and education, relief from poverty, and the general well-being and improvement in the situation of mankind on Earth, including -- but not limited to -- salvation from a 'Me-centered', 'I-driven' approach to life which plagues us until we come face-to-face with the truth in Jesus Christ.
Fortunately for my wife, she chose to complete her women's Bible study assignment at the local library while I viewed the movie in preparation for an interview on Christian radio about this film.
Sadly for the majority of people who choose to see this film, they will come away with a distorted view of God, the Scriptures, and the role of true religion in the lives of faithful believers, and an incomplete understanding of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, this is a case of the blind leading the blind, and those who are ill-informed on the matters of true religion, or more specifically, true Christianity, will not come away any the wiser for Maher's efforts. Also, shamefully, this movie deserved it's 'R' rating.
If among many who see this film, Maher wanted to get this particular Evangelical believer mad at him, no matter, for the time being I'll just criticize him from my journalistic bully-pulpit and continue to pray sincerely that he sees the truth of the Gospel before he meets his Creator on the 'Day of Reckoning.'
Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent of ANS, is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a British Christian radio station. Michael's involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- Michael Ireland Media Missionary (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International.
Copyright 2008 ASSIST News Service. Used with permission.