Book and film reviews


By Larry Charles (director) and Bill Maher (screenplay and talk show host).

Published in Grail World 54/2009

In the Grail World we have reported on various occasions how the religious fundamentalism that was believed to have been overcome in the middle of the 20th century is growing again worldwide. (See "The Apocalypses in the 21st Century" under "History of Religions"; "War of Religions under" Book Reviews ")

This unpleasant development provokes counter-reactions, including the desire to abolish religions as such. (Cf. “Better to abolish religions?” Under “History of religion”).

So it couldn't be long before critics of religion put their objections into effect on film. The film "Religulous", which is critical of religion, was released in April 2009 in German-speaking countries.

A team traveled around the world to find the most bizarre exponents of the religions. In lively interviews by the intrepid talk show host Maher, followers of various Abrahamic religions were asked about their understanding of religion and confronted with quotes from their “holy scriptures”. It turned out that the interviewees hardly seemed to know their own religion. The interviewed Christians knew little about the Bible and could not find any convincing explanations for unpleasant quotes. This is not surprising, because the Bible is far too thick for the average reader. The Qur'an, with its much smaller size, is easier to read. But neither with Christians nor with Muslims, the interviewer had no problems blurring those who are supposedly convinced of the truth of their religious books and entangling them in contradictions.

The great majority of the so-called believers know neither the substantive foundations of their religion, nor the genesis of their “holy books”. It turned out that for the great majority of believers their religious community is a social group in which one can feel at home and make friends. Few of them are interested in the religious history of one's own religion - and especially that of other religions. Even priests are rarely interested in a serious discussion of the fundamentals of their teachings in order to avoid getting into difficulties and contradictions themselves. In fact, anyone who has read the Bible or the Koran superficially could embarrass most “believers”.

It is a shame that no well-founded religious scholars have their say in this film! It was to be expected that the Pope would refuse an apparently unannounced interview with Maher. But a religious person who - despite all the long-known questions of tradition - can discuss the meaning and necessity of religions in a well-founded manner, could he have been found?

So the conclusion of the film had to be that religions consist of a jumble of prejudices and inaccuracies and should therefore be abolished; that their immanent message that it is godly to kill unbelieving people and to wish for catastrophes endangers the life of mankind.