Religulous
R
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: -4

Cast: Bill Maher. Political/religious documentary. Directed by Larry Charles.

FILM SYNOPSIS: This documentary follows political humorist and author Bill Maher (Real Time with Bill Maher, Politically Incorrect) as he travels around the globe interviewing people about God and religion. Subjects include the presence of religion in many of the big news stories of recent years, Muslim riots over cartoons, the Ten Commandments in front of courthouses, a born-again Christian in the White House, and Scientology in the birthing room. His main themes: How can you believe in the Bible? And, religion is used to destroy man, not better him.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Religion must die so mankind can live. So says Bill Maher at the end of his docu-diatribe concerning his perception that all faith is faulty. Oh, this guy doesnt like faith. He doesnt want any religion in his life or anyone elses. Hes very clear about that in this film.

I have to admit, I was nervous just sitting in the theater. Im not making a joke. At some point, God is going to display His anger with mans irreverent biliousness. Id rather not be there when that happens. My spirit was grieved by the mocking, cynical and biased humor of the production, not to mention some lines that were downright blasphemous. Come to think of it, we will mention it.

Not since Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will has a film been so unabashedly employed as a tool for indoctrination. Indeed, its hard not to get the impression that Mr. Maher believes people of faith should be boiled with their own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through the heart. Mr. Maher manages to avoid religious discussions with theologians or folks versed in public speaking, preferring to ambush those who simply take Gods Word by faith. And never once does he give examples of religious people adding a positive to the culture or the world. He sees only the corruption of religion, not the life-changing element of knowing Christ.

The film does do one positive thing it points out the power of a filmed perspective. I say positive in that it warns rational, thinking people that any subject matter can be made to seem reasonable in a documentary. Again, watch Triumph of the Will and youll see a transparent agenda proclaiming the Third Reich to be good and the Jews anything but.

Mr. Maher has a field day interviewing flux ministers who jazz themselves up with bling or make vast fortunes selling books and DVDs, and there are no limits to his goal of ridding the world of religions. From spotlighting disgraced pastor Ted Haggart, to trying to convince a simple-minded black man that faith is a bad thing, Maher shows no regard and no mercy. To aid his cause, Maher spotlights one guy who says hes Jesus, and he ridicules a religious theme park (he may have a point there, as everywhere we look on the grounds there are cash registers), and then theres the scene that sent shivers up my spine, the ridiculing of those who speak in tongues. No matter your assessment of that gift, mocking a persons intent to grow closer to God is an insult not just to practitioners of speaking in tongues, but to the Holy Spirit, as well. Mr. Mahers ignorance of that fact will most likely not serve him as a defense.

It has to be said that too often Elmer Gantry-like hypocrisy and the foibles of religious folks, as well as the realization that most of us are not prepared for thoughtful discussions concerning a belief in God, supply the ammunition hecklers need to make us seem foolish. But then again, those of us who place faith at the core of our lives will always seem foolish to the world. Faith in a Higher Power is as intangible as the wind and just as unattainable for some. As someone said, youre trying to use earthy words to describe heavenly matters.

But what really grieved me, besides the fact that Mr. Maher may cause some agnostics to give up a search for that third dimension of man mind, body and spirit is Mr. Maher, himself. As I witnessed the comedian purport himself poorly by swearing and using crude humor in places of worship, I kept thinking that God loves him and that Christ died for him. And if we Christians are right, that there is a place after death where God isnt, Bill Maher may spend the rest of eternity in that place, regretting the making of this film. I dont want that for him, despite the fact that he would like the Thought Police to round up our spiritual credos, if not us, placing them in virtual concentration camps.

There is a recent DVD release that addresses the same questions that befuddle Bill Maher: Why is Jesus the only way to God? And, how could a loving God exist if there is evil and suffering in the world? In The Case For Faith, journalist and one-time atheist Lee Strobel investigates these two emotional objections to Christianity. Strobel presents his argument with the well-reasoned facts of a Perry Mason, but also wisely includes the emotional testimonies of those who have undergone serious questioning of their spirituality. The special features on this remarkable DVD include a featurette entitled Dealing With Doubt. Its an important DVD and should be added to your personal library.

Interesting note: Both The Case For Faith and Religulous have been released by the same studio, Lionsgate.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Lionsgate

Summary
Crude Language: Mr. Maher makes several crude, if funny, observations, but in inappropriate locations and at or about people who object to objectionable language.
Obscene Language: Mr. Maher peppers his speech and comic observations by using obscenity, which can include the f-word.
Profanity: Four or five misuses of Gods name or Christs; some statements reflect the blasphemous nature of the speaker.
Violence: A suicide car crash is shown, it is a jolting moment and shown as a comic, yet poignant moment meant to indict religious zealots.
Sexual Intercourse: A couple of sexual references
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Mr. Maher is seen smoking pot with a self-proclaimed guru; Maher looks very at home with smoking pot.
Other: None
Running Time: 101 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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