Documentaries for Homos: Deliver Us from the Religulous Bible While Tying the Knot Before G-d

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Religulous (2008)

Directed by Larry Charles

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The documentary RELIGULOUS follows political humorist and author Bill Maher as he travels around the globe interviewing people about God and religion including Jerusalem, the Vatican and Salt Lake City, interviewing believers from a variety of backgrounds and groups, including a former member of the Jews for Jesus, Christians, Muslims, former Mormons and Hasidic Jews. He travels to Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park, London, and satirically preaches Scientology beliefs.

The problem with religion is: The whole thing is based on some super-crazy books. Religion encourages followers to reject logic in favor of the mysterious and resolutely illogical “faith.” Some people ascribe to religion like they’re playing the lotto — “you can’t win if you don’t play.”religulous You might as well, just in case God IS real.

Footnoting & Fact-Checking the Bible: Original sin & immaculate conception were not in the original Bible. The virgin birth is only in two of the Gospels. The Bible features talking snakes and a man living inside a whale. The Mormons think that the Garden of Eden is in Missouri, God lives on a planet near a Star Kolab, dark skin is a curse, American Indians are a lost tribe of Israel, and magic underwear protects you from fire, knives and Satan.

Scientologists believe they were brought here 75 million years ago and are older than the Universe. Furthermore Scientologists believe that you have to rid yourself of implants from evil souls called Thetans which are regulated by a device referred to as an  “e-meter.”

Also? The same stories but with different characters appear in the books of every religion & ancient civilization — cultures that had no contact with one another. Only a similar dedication to storytelling and classic archetypal plots.

The story of Sodom & Gomorrah has been radically misinterpreted to demonize gays when it was just a story about people being bad hosts who threatened their visitors with rape… a common act of war/cruelty.

George Fucking W Cameo:I believe that God wants everyone to be free … And that’s what I believe. And that is uhhh — part of my foreign policy.”

OMFG MOMENT: Highlights include a creationism museum (where triceratops – DINOSAURS — wear saddles ’cause humans apparently rode dinasours to the hunt), a biblical amusement park, and a bling-adorned Televangalist insisting Jesus wasn’t really poor and in fact that Jesus wants him to have lots of houses and cars.

The ultimate OMFG moment happens with “ex-gay” Pastor of “Exodus Ministries” John Wescott:

Bill Maher: “Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. If it’s so important why didn’t he ever bring it up?”
Pastor John Wescott: “We could pick lots of little things that he didn’t specifically talk about.”
Bill Maher: “It’s a big thing!”
John Wescott: “Lemme stop this whole thing, I’m not sure what your documentary is about but if it’s to refute the word of God, then I’m not interested in doing this interview.”
Bill Maher: “Well — I”
John Wescott: “Obviously you don’t have the same relationship to Jesus Christ that I do.”
Bill Maher: “What is your explanation for the millions of people around the world who are leading homosexual lives and have no interest in anyone of the opposite sex? Are they all faking to piss off Jesus?”
John Wescott: “They didn’t choose this, they didn’t desire it.”
Bill Maher: “Right, they were born gay!”
John Wescott: “No, they were not born gay. It’s because of the insecurity within themselves.”
Bill Maher: “Well it takes a lot of security to walk out of the door in ass-less chaps.”
John Wescott: “They’re not happy.”
Bill Maher: “They’re called GAY! That’s the word! Some of them look positively thrilled!”
John Wescott: “No, they’re people who are not complete in who they are as men or women.”
Bill Maher: “That’s a big judgment for a Christian.”

A;ex says: A random woman Maher interviews drops this gem of an idea: “I don’t know a lot about politics but I will vote for President Bush because of his faith.” Go America!

On a Scale of 1 to 10: Like Michael Moore-meets-Borat but way smarter. Bill Maher’s sometimes off-putting arrogance works for him when he holds his own against religious fanatics. Entertaining & educational.

The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that’s what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong.”

-Bill Maher

Watch Religulous here:

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Trembling Before G-d (2001)

Directed by Sandi Simcha Dubowski

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Trembling Before G-d is an unprecedented feature documentary that shatters assumptions about faith, sexuality, and religious fundamentalism. Built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are gay or lesbian, the film portrays a group of people who face a profound dilemma – how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that forbid homosexuality.+

The problem with Ultra-Orthodox Judaism & Hasidism is: Although I personally would’ve done almost anything to get out of Hebrew School, the Jews in this documentary are super into G-d, are pretty sure G-d loves them too, and just want space for their truths within their religion. It’s a clash of new-school and old-school as many are ostracized from their families and those that do get married give their partner serious inadequacy issues.

Fact-Checking the Torah:

The Rabbi says – “The demonstration that human beings can influence even G-d is all over the Torah. Moses influences G-d, Abraham influences G-d. G-d, Ba’ruch Ha’shem, wishes to learn from his conversations with human beings. All over the torah. The whole engagement is not about G-d’s control but about G-d’s love, because G-d engages human beings, says what he thinks, human beings say what they think … It’s not Judaism if it’s not responsive to the human condition.”

“I have to believe that if someone is gay, then that is an assignment from Hashem, and that Hashem is somehow also sharing with that person, not just the strength to carry out the assignment as best as they can, but ultimately it’s part of the life purpose of that person to have struggled and to work with that particular issue among others. To do the best they can. These are the secrets of His soul.”

trembling before g-dOMFG MOMENT: A gay man visiting a Hasidic neighborhood gets in a conversation about why his parents won’t talk to him anymore, and then passionately delivers the following monologue to an interested passerby and the cameras: “I know I live in my faith. I don’t know what that faith is, I don’t know what G-d is, I certainly know it’s not the G-d that tells me I shouldn’t do this, I shouldn’t do that, I’m not the G-d that stimulated that Yeshiva student when I was 15 years old to get me to confess that I masturbated, that I had sex with my brother and made me swear to him that I would never do it again and drove me 12 weeks later to suicide and drove me to a mental hospital and drove me to have electric shock therapy that burned out my brain. That’s not the G-d that redeemed Israel out of Egypt!”

Riese Says: Even after many years of religious & Hebrew education, a Bat Mitzvah, and a good amount of independent study, I didn’t realize that Jews had such a serious issue with homosexuality ’cause we’re not into the whole heaven/hell thing.

See; most Fundamentalist Orthodox & Hasidic Jews live in fairly insular societies; attending their own schools and living in their own neighborhoods. And unlike Christians with similarly redonkulous interpretations of their holy books who evangelicise across our country, these American Jews don’t put as much energy into recruiting or condemning outsiders. They kinda just stick to themselves and consequently, stick to their own insular homophobia. So therefore, I had no idea that homos were so unwelcome in the temple. Or — rather — I did know … but I felt we were moving forward more rapidly than it turns out that we are.

Right. So it turns out that everyone who dares to judge anyone beyond himself, empowered by this mighty book that begins with a magical snake (HELLO! “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”), becomes a self-righteous asshole.

Hope! This was the only film it seemed that wanted religion to be better than this, who wanted religion to work. Are there other films like this? Should there be? Or are the remaining believers just idiots to believe?

However … there is hope! In fact, Trembling Before G-d jumpstarted a movement that began with a huge Sabbath at Sundance and streamrollied into over 800 screenings & conversations all around the world. Director DuBowski went on to start an Orthodox Outreach and Education Project with unprecedented reach.

Last winter, after years of intense discussion and debate, the Conservative Movement made a bold and historic policy change: legalizing the ordination of gay and lesbian rabbis and the ability to perform same-sex unions.

You can watch Trembling Before G-d in its entirety at One More Lesbian, and also right here:

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Next time we’ll talk about Jesus Camp, a Jihad for Love, Equality U, Camp Out, Coming Out in the Developing World … any other tips?

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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2877 articles for us.

49 Comments

  1. soo… i wasnt going to read this. but.. then i decided to. i have alot of feelings and things to say. but im not going to share them. i just want to know why you guys did this? what made you decide to do something on this topic? its very… interesting. i cant say much more…. due to feelings and thoughts and beliefs, but i can say what hit me the most was this statement, “My daughter is dead because of the untruth I was taught by the church.”

    also… since you said you were going to do something on Equality U. they did this thing called the Soulforce Equality Ride. and one of the 19 conservative religious and/or military colleges they went to was the college i attened. thankfully it was after i left. but i heard about it that night. they stood on the sidewalk with signs and linked arms. the police were called. the director said, “one step, and youre going to jail.” i think 3 got arrested. but the thing i remember most was a friend who was telling me a bunch of people we knew went out to talk to them. it turned into this HUGE fight. one girl said her brother killed himself because people were judging him for being gay. and… a friend said, “good, he deserved to die, God hates him.” i felt sooo bad knowing that i was friends with someone who said that. it killed me. so i found one of their email addresses and apologize on behalf of my friends. and then i ended my friendship.

    LOTS of feelings happening….

  2. i’m so glad you guys are doing this, i feel like the vast majority of people actively avoid thinking/talking about religion +/- politics, when it seems outrageous how much blatant brainwashing is happening. after i see religious docos i want to talk to EVERYONE about it.

    i have a question though, before i go and watch the ones i haven’t seen yet: were they generally presented from an impartial point of view or did they lean more to one side or the other? i have comments to make about jesus camp in that regard but i’ll save them for later.

    also p.s. heehee smiley face in the corner!

    • I don’t think they were presented from an impartial point of view, necessarily, as most of these films were created expressly to explain a counterpoint to commonly accepted truths of modern religion. But I didn’t feel there was any bias present, really only truths, like clearly Berg was not a fan of child molestation, but I don’t think anyone is, so that’s really the only POV a person could have.

      Religulous was the only film that seemed at all biased — you know what I mean? Like a Michael Moore movie, even if you agree with him, you suspect that he’s strategic in what information he uses and what he leaves out … like how in Fareinheit 9/11 he used the kid in Iraq flying the kite to demonstrate how much happier they were before the US invaded when you knew that footage wasn’t a fair representation of what life was actually like there — was not always the most impartial presentation. Like it’s clear there’s some cherry-picking going on with Bill Maher’s film, but it was a movie presented in real theaters, not just an indie festival circuit film, so it had to be a little more outlandish in terms of entertainment value. And it was! totally entertaining.

      • Those suspicions you have about Michael Moore can be explored in the documentary, “Manufacturing Dissent.” It is basically about how his films are made into a preset mold and if something doesn’t fit, it is omitted or taken out of context. A big example being that for “Roger and Me”, he DID interview Roger Smith but chose to leave it out of the final film.

        There’s also a book (that I haven’t read yet fyi), “Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man”, that is OBVIOUSLY an unbiased look into the man.

        • I nodded along whilst reading that entire passage with a smile on my face..at work.(except i dont know the songs of Rent so i would probably have chosen, “Everyone has AIDS”, from Team America: World Police.)Thanks for making me look like a creep to the director.

          I think he frustrates me so much because he hides behind, “I make comedies, they dont have to be accurate,” while a large percentage of the public watch and accept them as full on documentaries.

          P.S. About how current religions are derived from ancient religions…I took an anthropology class on magic, witchcraft, and religion a couple years back and I think, by law, everyone should have to sign up for one. If not to learn fun facts such as “the Egyptian anhk looks a lot like a crucifix, coincidence? I THINK NOT!”, then just to be entertained by how PIIIISSSSSSED people get at the professor. Apparently, they close their eyes and pick their classes randomly.

  3. Living in the Bible Belt, unfortunately, I see religious hatred all the time. Instead of being so angry and hateful to gays, these people should be angry at evil people like O’Grady. Christians’ energy should be used to fight this kind of blatant evil instead of fighting people who are not hurting any body.

    • There was a guy in the “For the Bible Tells Me So” doc named Jake Reitan who told his story of coming out and his parents told their story of struggling with it. Very Christian, obvs.
      .
      By the end of the film, his family makes a huge turn-around. It was a great example of a family standing by their son and speaking out against bigots like Pat Robertson. It was awesome and heart-warming and made me cry! JK I don’t cry.

  4. love documentaries and I haven’t seen ANY of these… i’m a bad gay. LOL. anyway, thanks for the recs and the full upload w/ “religulous”. i’ll start there after work :)

  5. I haven’t seen most/any of these (save for a few clips) because they tend to make me so angry/sad/frustrated. I believe in God, but not organized religion (anymore), because of all the craziness, hate, judgement. I know I should watch at least some of these, and I want to, but maybe I should have a bottle of wine with them…?

  6. “I believe in God, but not organized religion (anymore)”…

    I wonder how many GLBTI people share that stance? I’m sort of on that band-wagon. I don’t belong to a church but my girlfriend does and (living in the south) most of my friends are regular attendees–so I definitely think organized religion has its merits in it’s ability to build a community and provide support structures (given, of course, those communities are supportive of ALL constituents… and so far, I have yet to really see that happen). I guess I sort of fancy myself agnostic. Even still, there are moments of doubt. Leave it to Stephen Colbert: “let’s face it, agnostics are just atheists without balls.”

  7. I’m fairly certain that The Garden of Eden is nowhere close to Missouri. Trust me.

    I haven’t seen any of these docs yet (I was a little afraid I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night). But a couple of these look worth it.

    • Both Deliver us From Evil and Religulous aren’t directly about homosexuality and the church. But they’re both about hypocrisy and the ways that conveniently selective interpretations of religious texts often enable more harm than good.

      The Catholic Church thinks gay marriage will be the apocalypse for real, and judges people who are gay and says gay people are sinners. Meanwhile they protect a child molester. So what it’s really about is hypocrisy, and how the people who feel most enabled to judge seem to always be casting the first stone from their big-ass expensive glass houses.

    • I feel like the underlying theme of all these documentaries Riese and I discussed here as that religious institutions are, and have always been, hypocritical.
      .
      I feel like “Deliver Us From Evil” brings a lot to the table here. We’re constantly told that homosexuality is a sin, we’re evil, we’re going to hell, God hates fags etc etc you know the deal…
      meanwhile, these gentleman condemning us are molesting young children AND are being protected by their “holy” superiors. It all ties in.
      .
      “Religulous” is the same deal. It doesn’t address homosexuality specifically but by discussing religion and its present context/existence, I believe homosexuality is always either directly or indirectly part of that discussion.
      Get me yo?

      • yeah i get it (and had assumed it), but this analysis wasn’t in the review itself. that, combined with the post’s title and the fact that all the other reviews touch explicitly on homosexuality, left me waiting for the tie-in. thanks for clearing it up here!

        • i changed some lines in the first paragraph of the post, ’cause you’re right that it wasn’t clear. do you think there’s anything specifically that needs changing in our blurb about deliver us from evil? obvs i don’t want anyone to equate child molesting little boys with homosexuality (although I do think that if society changed to make gay men more comfortable with their homosexuality, those cases would drop dramatically, as sometimes those acts are an indirect result of repressing their real desires to the point that they become crazy/evil), as that is one of the key um misconceptions we are actively attempting to shut down, so I just want it to be clear why we did include that film, which is that it was about sexuality and religion and hypocrisy.

          • really?? repressed homosexuality “often” manifests as pedophilia? woah. i don’t know if i’d go with “often” there; i’d say that repressed homosexuality “often” leads to sham marriages, substance abuse, depression, and republican senator bathroom trysts, but i’m not on board with pedophilia on that one. not being allowed to fuck someone of my own sex would not suddenly make me want to fuck a child. that takes evil, and evil knows no orientation (though i think i get that your point was really just that it’s hard out here for a gay, and i agree). re: the blurb, i think it’s fine. :) also – great layout on this post, again.

          • ha, sorry, grammatical miscommunication. I don’t think that it often causes pedophilia, but I do think that often pedophilliacs are dealing with repressed homosexuality issues — or repressed sexuality in general. I think the epidemic in the Roman Catholic church is a good example of how extreme repression of sexual desire manifests itself in ugly ways. Perhaps people become evil when they are teased and bullied and abused for their natural feelings as a kid. I mean otherwise we’re saying all child molesters were born that way and it has nothing to do with their life experiences. Which is a really upsetting concept.

          • Maybe it looks “homosexual” because they molest boys, but they prob molest boys because that is mostly who is around (altar boys). I think that repressed sexuality may lead to secret affairs with women, not necessarily pedophilia. I see your points, but I’d like to think not just any normal priest would be so inclined to molest children because they are sexually frustrated. I don’t know, never been a catholic priest, or a sexually frustrated man.

          • Of course not, I don’t think any normal priest would be inclined to molest children because they are sexually frustrated. That’s not what I said, that’s ridiculous!

            Anyhow I could be wrong, there could just be like a lot of total douchebag pervs out there who would act that way no matter what kind of rules their job put upon them. I volunteered to work with sexually abused girls in a women’s detention center in Michigan for a while and also had a few friends who have been sexually abused, so maybe I especially want there to be some reason to the rhyme, some fix-able way to explain how these tragedies keep happening. I also know a lot of sex workers who have crazy stories about how the desire men keep inside can manifest itself in really brutal ways. But I don’t know, I mean — I guess all I’m trying to say is that any kind of sexual repression; be it abstinence-only education or mandated celibacy — certainly doesn’t do anyone any favors, and that it’s almost always better to give people sexual freedom. Clearly molesting children is evil, but for these priests, ALL sexual contact is evil, so to a total sociopath like, what’s the difference? That feels dangerous to me, that seems like a situation that might occassionally attract the wrong kind of people to the job. I also have a lot of friends whove had serious guilt issues learned in church that can get ugly too.

            In our post about other abuse scandals, the victims in every case except for one were young girls, young boys, or other men. I just feel like anyone who really wanted to marry a woman would probably do so, rather than become a priest? Or not? I dunno. Like how a lot of nuns are lesbians who don’t want to be pressured about marriage forevs. I just made that last part up, that might only be true in porn movies about nuns.

          • RIESE THINKS ALL PRIESTS ARE GAYS AND ALL GAY PRIESTS ARE PEDOS, READ ALL ABOUT IT

            jk. this reply thread reminds me of skinny jeans! ps i’m bitter that you can edit comments and i can’t! :)

          • CHURCH = IF THERE’S GRASS ON THE FIELD PLAY BALL

            i know this thread is so tapered!

            if it makes you feel any better, I can totally edit your comments.

          • I wanna keep replying to what you say just to see how skinny this column will get. It’s on a crash diet like DJ Tanner. Riese, I know what you were trying to say from the get-go, I didn’t mean to misconstrue it. I agree totally. Something should be done.

  8. i think this goes without saying (and i certainly don’t think alex or riese would argue otherwise or that the post was doing so), but i want to state the obvious and say that there are examples, though maybe not TONS, of institutionalized/organized religion (which seems to be more the focus here, as opposed to individuals who profess personal faith) being accepting of homosexuality. the united church of canada, for example, condones gay ministers marrying gay couples in old churches (and various combinations thereof!) also obviously, nutso fundamentalists everywhere make it hard for that to seem possible.
    related: i worked at and eventually directed a presbyterian children’s summer camp for the better part of a decade and was out and proud the whole time (and presbyterians are among the stuffiest protestants). the 60-year old, texan managing director even decorated the dining hall with rainbow streamers for my birthday one year. there are often gaps between the official positions a church takes and the ways that its “members” actually live their faiths. because even though “The Church” might say one thing, “The Church” is still just made of people, and people can be pretty cool. some can be idiots. but there are idiot homophobic atheists, too.
    that said, i have to go burn this polycotton devil-shirt.

    • No I agree, I think that not all organized religion is bad. I liked that in Trembling Before G-d there was definitely an effort to make gays fit into Judaism, rather than to lead gays away from Judaism. Also in For the bible tells me so, a lot of these people did eventually find churches where they were accepted.

      We talked about it in our Roundtable which Elizabeth mentioned up there.

      I personally think that faith & spirituality should be good things. I want them to be good things! And I wish that organized religion had done more good than harm over the years, because it becomes an undefendable position sometimes. I am totally berated by atheists for not being an atheist, like saying i believe in the tooth fairy. I don’t think it has to be that way. I also think that if organized religion hadn’t caused so much destruction over the years, no-one would care enough about Religion to bother insulting me or looking down on me for still wanting to believe.

      But I know my concept of G-d is not like any specific religion’s concept.

      I like Unitarian Universalists.

  9. There’s a relatively new documentary called ‘Fish Out of Water’ that deals with gays in the church. I don’t think it’s available to rent yet, but it played earlier this month at a Rhode Island film festival so hopefully it should make it to NY soon. Scored by Kaki King hi-yo! trailer:

  10. Saw Religulous last night. Love love loved it. I can’t say I am as hardcore to one side like Bill, but it made me think and rethink and think again. I loved how much theme-park Jesus loved himself. He gets off on being recognized “all the time” in public!

  11. its about a very specific group and not exclusively about the gays, but i remember watching louis theroux’s documentary spending 3 weeks with the westboro baptist church a couple of years ago when i was first coming out and just being so shocked and fascinated by the extremity of their beliefs and how far they extend them, can never get my head around it. i just find it so terrifying, i had never really heard of this kinda thing beforehand. really think louis theroux handles it well, seems like such a nice guy too!
    its here http://vodpod.com/watch/453706-louis-theroux-westboro-baptist-church if you’re at all interested!
    literally just finished watching religulous which i agree was really entertaining and interesting, although the islam/judaism section a bit confusing and unfocused and i think maybe it would have benefitted from sticking to one religion as it felt pretty unbalanced. definitely worth watching though!

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