I've been a fan of Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect and Real Time shows for years now. But in recent times his rather virulent attacks on religion and particularly people of faith, have been making me feel uncomfortable enough to reduce my viewership. It's not that I can't take opinions that differ from mine: one of my dearest friends is an avowed atheist with whom I share a reciprocal respect on many matters including religious faith. I don't try to change his convictions and he doesn't feel the need to chastise for me believing in what Maher gleefully calls a "fairy tale". And if my friend who has paid dues towards our friendship does not subject me to this, why should I take it from Maher?
I don't review movies I haven't seen but in this case it's not a surprise to anyone who's seen his show that Bill Maher's Religulous is far from an open-minded, investigative probe into the minds of religious people in this country and abroad, no mater how much he tries to sell it as such. On a film blog which had not given the film a positive review, a reader defended Maher's impetus for making the movie, stating:
"I’m cheering for the guy who is sick and tired of having religion shoved down his throat..."
You know, I'd like to inquire as to how this is accomplished? Is Maher harassed daily by zealots who want to convert him? Does HBO make him have a benediction performed before every show? Is he denied access to goods or services because of his atheism? (Yes, he is an atheist; if he truly had doubts about the existence of a deity--as Maher likes to say he does, in an effort to appear somewhat even-handed--he'd state his position without the certainty he clearly flaunts about his convictions. Or which, ironically, he decries in those religious folks he routinely ridicules.)
Listen, Maher had every right to make this film and have as many people who agree with him on this matter watch it. Fine by me. To each his own. But let's be clear here: when it comes to religious matters and people of faith, he is a disingenuous, condescending bigot with no true desire to find out what makes religious people tick, just a hearty need to mock them mercilessly and flaunt his self-assumed superiority.
As a tolerant, open-minded, left-leaning, centrist Democrat, staunchly in favor of the separation of church and state; who believes in evolution and thinks the tale of Genesis as a simplified, poetic version of it; a Catholic who sees the Pope not as the representative of Jesus Christ on Earth but as the head of the Church, I am the one who is sick and tired of being lumped in with the Falwells, Hagees, Robertsons and their ilk, because of my personal and mostly private religious beliefs. Are you implying that deep down there is no difference between myself and the religious fanatics that blindly oppress, maim and kill in the name of religion? How-fucking-dare you?! Enough already! I'm not going to remain silent about it anymore, whether it's Bill Maher or that chick sitting next to me at the bar and loudly mocking what I believe. It's bullshit and I'm fed up.
God bless you all.