Religious dogma has been instilled into our human society for a few thousand years now, with perhaps the last 2000 years having been the most concentrated. For many people, there is no spirituality without religion, while for others yet any sign of spirituality is quickly translated as some tie to religion. However spirituality and religion are not the same, and while they can be interconnected, they have vast differences. One of the main being that religion tends to limit through fear, whereas spirituality tends to liberate through love.
A recently released movie that looks are the religious side of spirituality is Bill Maher’s documentary, Religulous. In fact, it does much more than that. It makes us face the various beliefs that have been conditioned upon cultures of this planet, and to this day hold a tight grip on many, even when they make little if any sense.
As Evolving Beings is about waking up out of the unconscious state of life most of us live our lives in, it provides the foundation for each of us to courageously, honestly and openly examine our beliefs. Many of our beliefs are outdated and extremely limiting. Therefore as evolving beings we take steps on our path of awakening to rise up to live out the highest version of ourselves. We are open to growth, learning, and change.
In the same token, this film steps up to the plate to openly talk about one of the most controversial subjects of all time – religion. In it, Bill Maher will no doubt make you laugh, but more than that, he will inspire you to at least question what any religious beliefs are all about, by bringing you into a conscious state of being that craves growth and learning, in order to see a higher version of yourself than you have ever seen before. Naturally, this is only possible if you are at least a little open-minded.
Overview of Religulous
The movie starts off in Megiddo, Israel, where Maher explains the end of the world is supposed to take place.
One of the key points he explains is that in the beginning, only God had the power to destroy the Earth and end all life here as we know it. Today, humans have the power to do this and so when people speak about the end of days – they may very well be fulfilling their own prophecy. Naturally, if you understand the Law of Attraction, you can see how this can easily be so.
According to Maher, “religion is detrimental to humanity, as people try to make it into something good, but it becomes heavily corrupt“. He explains that people make up any story and cling to it and it just depends on what story you were lead to believe, to begin with. In the midst of all of this, rationalism has gone out the window.
Maher thus begins the movie by introducing us to his own family upbringing where religion was concerned. He was born to a Catholic dad and a Jewish mom and up until his teenage years, he was brought up Catholic, at which time his family stopped practicing religion formally.
The whole point of it all is that Maher is looking for answers. Thus, he features his mom and sister in the film as they try to make sense of why they believed and did what they did, to which his mom replies, “Every family is dysfunctional”.
The rest of the movie consists of Maher on a quest to try to get a grasp of the religions out there and bring to light why they believe what they believe. To carry this out, Maher conducts a series of interviews with various people of different religions and religious standings from around the world.
It is at this point, that the movie turns hilariously funny and yet at the same time tragically sad when one consciously sees and hears how religion is treated by people and what it leads them to do, say or believe.
Bill Maher conducts interviews with leaders from the 3 major world religions, political leaders, scientists, minority religious leaders, common citizens and even a man who claims he is Jesus’ descendant, just to name a few.
He raises questions to believers of the Bible such as whether they are bothered by all the things they believe, which are not in the bible.
I preach the Gospel of I-Don’t-Know.
He raises issues such as:
- Evolution and compares what religious fanatics say against evolution versus what scientists say, versus what religious leaders who agree with evolution say
- What the New Testament says versus the Old Testament and how it can be seen as another example of a self-fulfilling prophecy
- Money and why many places of worship and religious leaders are adorned with jewels, dressed in designer clothes and look like palaces
- Personal translation versus literal translation of religious texts and proves his point very well when a religious leader says to him “It is what the Bible MEANS to say”
- Gay individuals and how and why they are treated by religions the way they are
- Christianity versus nationalism as completely incompatible entities
- The Non-religious minority of 16% in the United States and how it isn’t a minority at all compared to a few other groups that are perceived more important
- Science versus religion and how the scriptures were not meant to teach science
- Similar stories and personalities from other traditions that mimic the Christian ones, leading to the fact that even something like the virgin birth is not original to only Christianity
- The judgmental attitudes of religious people, when they claim to be all-loving
- How the Islam religion is a religion of peace when they are constantly fighting
- What defines an individual as crazy and shows how we can all fall under this heading, depending on who is analyzing us and according to what criteria
One of the best parts is perhaps when he focuses on the United States and why it has become a “Christian Nation”. This is the point at which he interviews a senator who is trying to convince him of his beliefs. Maher simply points out that he has a problem trusting leaders that believe in talking snakes to which the senator replies, “You don’t have to pass an IQ test to be a senator“.
Faith means making a virtue of non-thinking.
Another very thought-provoking part is when Maher interviews a senior Vatican priest, who says flat out to Maher’s many questions that, “these are all nice stories” – referring to the Bible. Maher also questions the idea of a monotheistic religion due to the many personalities and forms, by which the priest is not surprised and explains that when the Italian people were polled as to who they pray to in times of need, Jesus was 6th on the list.
The bottom line is that throughout the entire movie, Maher appears to honestly be seeking answers and trying to give each individual he talks to a chance to explain some things about their own religion. Unfortunately, to this Maher quickly sees that the questions he asks often stump the people that should know the answers to them or are full of hypocrisy and lacking in any logical context.
Religion is dangerous; because it allows those who don’t know, think they know. Doubt is humble.
Although “Religulous” is intended to be a comedy, Bill Maher concludes the movie with some very serious and powerful images and messages that really penetrate deep into the meaning of our existence – past, present and future.
Personal Review of Religulous
So far, reviews of Religulous have been very good, sort of to my surprise I guess, as I know that religious fanatics will probably start calling him the next anti-Christ.
It is no surprise that this movie will probably upset many people out there today. The thought I hence want to ask you to reflect on is this – if this movie upsets you, why not do some soul searching to figure out why a comedians’ simple words have the power to anger, threaten or make you feel vulnerable.
For the rest of us, if you are at least somewhat open-minded, I highly, highly recommend going to see this movie if you have not already done so.
It is an outrageously funny comedy. It is a movie for our times. It is put together brilliantly to make us think and question in order to grow and move on to the next step in our evolution, and to perhaps save the Earth and humanity before it is too late.
Although I think that perhaps the movie did not do a good enough job on separating religion from spirituality and although I know that Bill Maher is a rather atheist extremist, it still does not negate the fact that he brings up throughout this movie very valid points to reflect on. And anyone who is secure in and with their religion should have no problem with that.
I think the most powerful message to see and take away from this movie is the fact that just within any one religion people “think” they know their facts, in terms of what they believe and what they are talking about, but this could not be further from the truth and Maher showed that powerfully. The hypocrisy, the contradictions and the lack of answers to questions that should be easy, if one believes and is as sure of these things, as they say, they are, is staggering.
Finally, for any of those who think that this movie is in any way a “hate” movie or some kind of “religious attack” movie, I only have one thing to say – the madness that humans have brought upon each other is and has reached upper limits. If one consciously and deeply looks at this movie, they will see it is nothing more than a wake-up call out of our madness. If we want the end of the world so badly, today we are very well in control of making that happen. Just remember – be careful what you wish for.
On a final note, I have something else thought-provoking to leave you with. I wrote this review the way I did, as I am very sure what this movie was intended to do and what message it was supposed to bring. Or am I?
As I was preparing to write this review, I quickly read through a few other reviews about this movie, all that were positive like mine, and guess what I found?
I found that although all of us were seeing this movie in a positive way, each of us had a different interpretation of the movie, Maher’s message, how we perceived it and what we took away from it. Now, imagine, all this just from about half a dozen people, within a month of seeing a movie! Can you perceive what hundreds of years and millions of people can do for religious texts? Is it not possible that none of us need to be right and follow one way or another and simply just take the best from anything that resonates with us?
Whatever we decide, we need to simply know that today we have lots and lots of choices. Ignorance and fear are quickly going out of style as we begin to live in a more connected and enlightened way in all ways.
Below is a trailer of Religulous. The film can be rented, or purchased through your favorite film retailer.