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And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not.
—Bill Maher, Religulous

Religulous is a film featuring Bill Maher and the baby Jesus that takes the piss out of religion. The film explores various religious groups across many locations ranging from the Vatican to Salt Lake City. Maher interviews a wide variety of religionists, including Hasidic Jews, Muslims, Mormons, creationists as well as untraditional popes. In an early section, he asks what is possibly one of the most asked questions from non-religious people: why is faith good? Apart from a slight bit of abuse, he doesn't seem to get a straight answer out of anyone.

Release and box office performance[edit]

It was released on 2008 October 3, after a delay caused by the writers' strike. Religulous grossed $3.5 million in its opening weekend on 502 screens, resulting in a $6,972 per screen average (second among major new releases).[1] In contrast, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed managed only a meager $2,824 per screen in its opening weekend. [2]

Religulous was released on the same weekend as An American Carol, a right-wing screed aimed at documentarian Michael Moore. Although Carol had a slightly better opening week box office take ($3.66 million), it was shown on 1639 screens compared to Religulous's 502 screens. I.e., Carol had only one-third the number of butts in the seats per theater as Religulous. According to, as of 10 October 2008 Religulous had surpassed Carol at the box office -- $5.122 million versus $5.031 million. Because Religulous has made back double its original budget ($2.5 million) at the box office, it is now considered to have turned a profit. (The budget for Carol was $20 million.) In the end, the US box office take for Religulous was $13.01 million[3] compared to $7.01 million for An American Carol[4] and $7.92 million for Expelled. (The makers of Expelled have never made public the movie's official production budget. Big surprise.)[5] [note 1]


Religulous has come under fire for quote mining and allegedly misrepresenting facts to suit its agenda. One particularly criticised aspect of the film is an interview between Maher and Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project and devoted Bible believer, in which Collins appeared confused while attempting to defend the historicity of Genesis. Collins has claimed that Maher misled him about the topic of the interview, confronted him with questions unrelated to the discussion and used selective clips from the interview to make it appear that he was unable to answer the questions.[6] He also quoted John Adams as saying that "this would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it", ignoring that in its full context the quote clearly states that Adams opposed this view.[7]

Religulous also argues that Christ may not have existed, basing the argument on claims that the Jesus story is similar to the stories of Horus, Mithras and Krishna from Egyptian, Roman/Persian and Hindu theology. The claims about Horus come from Tom Harpur's The Pagan Christ, which has been extensively debunked by Egyptologists.[8] The claims about Mithras and Krishna are similarly based on misinformation; for example, neither Mithras nor Krishna were virgin births, nor was Mithras resurrected.[9] Likewise, the documentary's claim that original sin is not in the Bible is incorrect.[10]

External links[edit]


  1. The budget for Expelled is now listed as $3.5 million (US). If this is true, Ben and company made a (very small) profit. If this is true.