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The new documentary Religulous offers a satirical — and very critical — look at the world’s religions. Directed by Larry Charles, the film features Bill Maher posing undercover as a man seeking spiritual guidance from various religious groups, including Christians, Jews, Muslims and Mormons. In a recent New York Times article, Maher described religion as “the ultimate hustle,” and likened his role in the film to that of Toto, the dog who pulls back the curtain to expose the shortcomings of the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz. Maher is best known as the host of the HBO show Politically Incorrect, while Charles’s credits include Borat (which he directed) and the TV programs Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

smokingjesus.gifNEW YORK TIMES: “I truly believe that unless we shed this skin, mankind is playing with real fire here,” [Bill Maher] said. “Because there’s nuclear weapons in the world and because there are suicide bombers and there are so many people who are anxious to get to that next world. They don’t look at the end of the world as a bad thing. That’s pretty scary. Until rationality is enshrined again and this magical thinking is marginalized, I’m a little nervous…[Organized religion is]  just the ultimate hustle,” he added. “It’s just selling an invisible product, and so if I can be Toto in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ pulling back the curtain, which is how I see religion, great, that’s fine, I’ll do that and get off the stage. I’m not looking to be the anti-messiah. […]

“Anyone who’s religious is extremist. See, we’re just used to religion. It’s like what Matthew Arnold said about a tree. It’s not that there are no miracles. A tree is a miracle. You’re just used to it. And conversely religion is something we’re just used to. So the notion that God had a son, that he’s a single parent, and the son went on a suicide mission, and you’re drinking his blood on Sunday, that a man lived inside a whale and that the earth is 5,000 years old — all the essentials of religion that are in the Bible or the Koran — we’re used to them. But it doesn’t mean they’re not crazy, doesn’t mean they’re not ridiculous. And so to be religious at all is to be an extremist, is to be irrational.”  MORE


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