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Much ado about Maher's movie

October 12, 2008

Re "Maher's mockery misses the point," Opinion, Oct. 7

It is David Wolpe who has missed the point of Bill Maher's movie, "Religulous." Maher understands very well that religion is "not univocal," is based on "an intuition" and is used as "a guide and an aspiration." He does not seek to deny believers their self-chosen tools of personal growth.

What he does assert is that religious stories should not, in no small part because of their ridiculousness, be the basis for making laws and domestic and foreign policies by which the rest of us, who may have quite different intuition, must abide and suffer the consequences.

Juliet Hotchkiss

Oak Park


Rabbi Wolpe considers religion "a marvel of values, ideas and consciousness" -- all good things. I believe he feels that we are all better off individually for believing in one God and living a righteous life. Maher, who is probably an agnostic, sees that organized religions have been complete failures with regard to bringing about a peaceful world. Both are correct.

What Wolpe fails to address is the evil of religious fundamentalism. Ultra-Orthodox Jews have been allowed to set the standards for Jewish identity, and if you do not abide by all 613 commandments in the Old Testament, you do not qualify as a "real" Jew. Evangelical Christians' "truth" is that eventually everyone must convert to Christianity or else. Muslim fundamentalists believe that the Koran proclaims that Islam must rule the world and martyrdom is required. Wolpe wants to believe that religions are a source for good, and Maher wants to see the evidence.

Martin J. Weisman

Westlake Village


It's often we atheists who are accused of being humorless, but it is Wolpe who misses the point about this movie. It's a comedy, Rabbi! Maher did not set out to write a treatise on the faults and inconsistencies of religion -- though he found them aplenty. He wanted to show -- in a funny way -- how nutty some beliefs and believers are. He also illustrated how influential and potentially dangerous these folks are when they have too much power.

Modern documentaries rarely pretend to present an unbiased picture. And so it is left to us, the audience, to use our own critical thinking skills as we watch.

James Underdown

Los Angeles

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