Religulous reveals the latest work of Bill Maher – the controversial former host of Politically Incorrect (whose show was cancelled after he stated he believed the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks were brave).
If you haven’t already heard, this Religulous flick is basically two hours of bashing religion captured on film, and 85% of it is aimed at Christianity. As I mentioned in the other post, I went to see this movie in San Francisco by myself in a theater full of people who saw fit to applaud at the end. It was an interesting experience, and I took notes.
Some of you might be wondering why I would spend money on a ticket for something like this. Here’s why: it will create an opportunity for me to have a meaningful dialogue with people influenced by this garbage.
If I have no idea what this movie is about or what the content is, I’ll have a harder time refuting some of the stupid, false, ignorant claims the film makes.
I’m sure most of you remember the movie The Da Vinci Code. In it, the basic story makes the claim that Jesus had actually been married to Mary Magdalene and the falsity of the gospel accounts was a closely guarded secret of this shady group behind the Catholic Church (in the story the Catholic Church was simply an organization which had been set up as a control device for the powers that be).
Religion was portrayed as a complex system of lies that exists only to control the masses without an ounce of truth behind it’s claims.
I didn’t watch The Da Vinci Code – I read the book, and I’m glad I did. Even though that book is found in the fiction section of your local bookstore, I still have people that bring up the “fact” that Jesus was actually married in discussion sometimes. If I were completely ignorant of where that information came from and didn’t know where to begin in addressing it, I’d be hindered in teaching them.
That being said, Religulous is even more dangerous because it won’t be found in the fiction section – its actually presented as truth. The movie claims to be full of “facts;” unfortunately the producers must have used the same fact checkers employed by the Weekly World News.
Here’s what you need to know:
1) Bill Maher is an entertainer and a comedian – not a scholar or person serious about seeking truth.
Key to remember: Bill Maher made this movie to make money– not to make the world a better place. Bill entered into working on this project with a particular worldview (as evidenced by his previous public statements and stand up routines), and he finished this project with the same worldview. He’s a hostile atheist who thinks people who believe in God are stupid, and he automatically assumes intellectual superiority over those who disagree.
2) Bill Maher’s view of the church is shaped by a nominal Catholic upbringing.
He frequently makes reference to his Catholic upbringing and says things in the film like “rational people think they drink the blood of a 2,000 year old God.”
Apparently his parents took him to mass growing up, but stopped attending altogether when they decided to start using birth control. His mother was in the film, and made it clear that she could care less whether her son believes in God or not.
Some of the sillier doctrines taught by the Catholic Church are viewed by Maher as mainstream and presented as so in the film. That brings me to my next point:
3) Maher presents a distorted view of mainstream Christianity.
In other words, the things he presents as happening in mainstream Christianity are in fact found only on the fringes. Maher focuses on speaking to people who largely don’t really represent mainstream Christian beliefs.
He splices in footage of people like Robert Tilton (more famous for being YouTube’s “farting preacher”) incoherently babbling like a fool along with plenty of other clips of reported Christians saying or doing very stupid things (like a lady who says from a pulpit she wanted God to give people “a Holy Ghost enima” or the guys from Way of the Master teaching students to “circumvent people’s intellect” as part of their evangelistic strategy).
4) Maher doesn’t interview a single credible Bible scholar.
Instead of interviewing someone like Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel, Maher interviews people like the men at a trucker’s chapel (a chapel built into the side of a truck stop), “Dr.” Jeremiah Cummings (a televangelist who possesses no degree at all and would be more than happy to accept your donations), Kenneth Ham (who believes Adam & Eve rode dinosaurs), and the actor who plays Jesus at Orlando’s Holy Land Experience (a first-century Jerusalem-themed amusement park).
Surprisingly, the Jesus actor seemed to be the most coherent person interviewed in the entire film!
5) Maher gets basic facts wrong again and again.
Maher has obviously never conducted a serious investigation into the claims of Christianity. He gets facts wrong that are so basic, yet he’s made a widely distributed and controversial feature film to refute the claims of Christianity.
Before the movie I didn’t think the man was stupid – misguided, yes, but not stupid – but after watching I’m thinking I may have been too generous in giving him the benefit of the doubt.
If a person is going to make a movie like this, you would think some basic research of the topic would be in order. Apparently that didn’t happen.
Here’s a list of some of the stupid things this movie puts forth as “facts”:
- “There’s no proof that Jesus ever existed.” (Wrong! There’s more historical evidence proving His existence than almost any other character in history)
- None of the gospel writers knew or had even ever seen Jesus. (Wrong! Matthew and John were two of the Twelve Apostles, and Mark and Luke are believed to have written down the sermons of Peter and Paul, respectively.)
- None of the gospel writers were historians. (Wrong! Doctor Luke was a serious historian whose accounts are corroborated by other recorded events in history.)
- All the Scriptures condemning homosexuality come from the Old Testament – the New Testament says nothing about it. (Wrong! The New Testament codemns the practice of homosexuality along with the Old. See Romans 1:25-27 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.)
- The story surrounding the Egyptian god Horus predates and parallels the story of Christ. In other words, the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was simply made up. (Wrong! The story of Horus predating the story of Christ is an urban legend – no historical sources support this because they don’t exist.) NOTE: Read more about this on Ben Witherington’s blog – these false claims about Horus were popularized by the film ‘The Zeitgeist Movie’.
6) Maher’s not nearly as disrespectful to Muslims as he is to people of other faith groups.
Apparently even Bill Maher has his limits. He significantly tones down the rhetoric when it comes to talking about Islam.
Despite his belief that there is no God and when you die you’re simply dead, Maher wants to keep on living.
Hrmph – what’s the point, Bill?
The film tries, but doesn’t even come close to putting a dent into the claims of Christianity.
While Religulous is well put together and hilariously edited, it falls short in revealing a real search for the honest truth. Rather, in the spirit of a Michael Moore film, it simply exists to poke fun, mock, and push an agenda without any real digging for truth taking place.
The sad thing is, many people will buy into what Maher has to say hook, line, and sinker without doing any real looking themselves.
It’d be nice if someone would produce a rebuttal film to this one.
In conclusion, Maher’s facts are wrong, his motives are impure, his eyes are blind, and his heart is hard. I can identify with where he is now because I was once there myself, and that gives me hope for him.
Please keep him and those this film will impact negatively in your prayers.