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“Religulous:” 9 Answers to Bill Maher’s Anti-Religious Zealotry

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Posted on November 28 2010 4:45 pm
Walter Hudson is a political commentator and co-founder of Minnesota's North Star Tea Party Patriots, a statewide educational organization. He runs a blog entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of Minnesotan conservative commentary. Follow his work via Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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This much I guarantee, if you care at all about the world in which you live and hold to a particular view which dictates how that world may be improved, you will be offended by what you are about to read. Given the nature of the subject matter, provocation cannot be avoided. We’re going to examine the most sacred and fundamental beliefs which undergird our thoughts, feelings, traditions, and actions. We’re going to consider ideas people die for. We’re going to consider about ideas people kill for. We’re going to do so because debate has sprung up in America, and around the world, regarding whether people of faith ought to have the right to live according to their beliefs. The stakes of that debate are nothing less than individual liberty, and extend to matters life and death.

One of the chief voices in popular culture articulating the anti-religion argument is Bill Maher, host of HBO’s Real Time and among the most antagonistic leftist ideologues participating in our public discourse. In 2008, Maher produced Religulous, a documentary-style film in which he interviews “some of religion’s oddest adherents.” The film is more than a critique of religion. It is a call to arms for the purpose of uprooting and destroying religion. Cinema Blend critic Josh Tyler articulated the purpose succinctly.

Early on in Religulous, Bill Maher throws up a bar chart illustrating the number of people in America who are non-religious. That number is 16%, more than blacks, more than Jews, more than numerous other minority groups who seem to have no problem making themselves heard and getting Congress to do their bidding. Maher wonders aloud why non-religious people are so underground, and why they aren’t having an impact on the national discussion. His film is aimed squarely at that 16% of the country, and almost no one else. His goal, and he clearly has one, is to give those people the motivation they need to come out of the closet and do something… before it’s too late.

Though profitable, the film went largely unnoticed at the time of its release. Given its uncompromising hostility toward the belief systems of the vast majority of human beings, it was clearly never intended to be a blockbuster. However, it would be a mistake to write off Maher’s work as irrelevant or unworthy of comment.

This topic is not going away, and will have consequences of tremendous import. Maher opens Religulous with a statement emblematic of aggressive anti-religionists such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, who regard religion not as a personal matter but an existential threat which civil society has a duty to neutralize.

I certainly honestly believe religion is detrimental to the progress of humanity. You know, it’s just selling an invisible product. It’s too easy. These questions about what happens when you die – they so freak people out that they’ll just make up any story and cling to it. Things that they know can’t be true – people who are otherwise so rational about everything else – and then, they believe that on Sunday they’re drinking the blood of a 2,000 year old god. That’s a dissonance in my head.

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