But what really made me happy was not the movie, but the audience reaction. It was like a huge, communal exhalation, a massive sigh of relief, a place where sensible, rational people could all simultaneously feel free to finally laugh out loud, to express their true feelings about what's going on in the world today.
This experience made me realize that, even though I think of myself as an out-of-the-closet Atheist, there is still discrimination all around. I'm surrounded by Christians who think of me as peculiar and misguided at best, and evil at the worst. I can't really be myself most of the time. Normally I just live with this repression, and I didn't even realize I was doing it. It wasn't until I was suddenly among friends, free to really express myself, that it was clear just how much we Atheists have to suppress our true opinions.
My wife is Jewish, and I always wondered why the Jews stick together so much. Now I have a better idea – it's not because they don't like their Christian friends and neighbors. It's because when they're together, that's the only time they can truly relax and feel free. We Athiests are ten times their numbers, yet we're still an oppressed minority. It took Religulous, and being among friends, to bring that message home, to make me realize just how much I feel the repression on a daily basis.
Tags: atheism atheist maher christian christianity discrimination jewish judaism religulous tolerance