Last night I saw a preview screening of Religulous (which opens this Friday), a documentary by director Larry Charles (Borat), featuring Bill Maher interviewing people around the world about god and religion. Religulous was fantastic, with an especially powerful ending that pulls no punches as to what Bill Maher thinks about religion and god, the belief in those concepts, and how those beliefs continue to be the biggest cause of the worlds problems. The movie is often very funny, which is to be expected if you know Bill Maher from his previous stand up comic routines and his television show Politically Incorrect. Religulous feels like a Michael Moore docu-film (not a bad thing in my book) and unfortunately like Michael Moore's movies, Religulous will almost exclusively only be seen by those that agree with the central theme of the movie (the non belief in god and religion).
The thing that surprises me the most about Religulous is that some of the religious "authorities" and people talking about their beliefs in this movie actually signed whatever release to allow what they've said to end up on the big screen (and on dvd). Surely they know that they would end up looking like crazy people? One statistic that the movie quoted was that 16% of the U.S. population claim to not have any religious affiiliation. What wasn't mentioned was how much of that 16% is agnostic or atheist. Religulous went into how much religion plays a part in U.S. politics, but I wish this aspect of the movie was examined more because one has just to look at the presidential race and think about if one of the candidates announced that they were atheist (well for starters they'd have even less of a chance than Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader ever had). Atheist people are looked upon with more scorn by most of the population of the U.S. (and world at large) than those followers of the Mormon and Scientologist faiths.
So at least 84% of the U.S. population will not see this movie let alone think about the message it conveys. I wish the representative from Lionsgate (the studio that produced this movie) that was at the screening last night had asked the audience before the movie started as to whether they had any religious beliefs and then asked those that said yes whether they questioned their beliefs after watching the movie. I'd suspect that most of those that claimed religious beliefs would have answered like the woman who gave a comment to the Lionsgate guy in the lobby and said that the movie was one-sided. The answer to her is that Religulous is the other side of how the U.S. and most of the world present religion as the answer for the world's woes, when in fact they are the cause with all of their divisions and tunnel visions.
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