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American Theocracy: The Movie

John on June 14, 2006 at 12:41 pm

Well, that didn’t take long. The first blush of Theocracy books has just passed and already the movie is in the can. Former Aussie game show host Andrew Denton has just completed his first full length documentary, God on My Side:

“We had four days in which to shoot and the aim was to go into George Bush’s heartland but not in a political way, to come at it through a question of faith.

“As religion and politics are mixing in increasingly potent measures around the world, we thought it was very interesting to go and look at Christian fundamentalism.”

Denton, himself not religious, said he tried to keep an open mind while filming and also didn’t want to take cheap shots at his interview subjects.

So let me get this right. An atheist TV host flies to the Religious Broadcaster’s Annual Convention to make a guerilla film about Christian Fundamentalism, but he did it in a fair way…

“I didn’t want to do a Michael Moore-type documentary where it was me standing in front of the camera telling people what they should be thinking.”

Great. And I suppose the title of this masterpiece is an example of the sort of unbiased reporting we can expect? God on Our Side…very subtle. Why not just abandon all pretense and call it Attack of the Fundamentalist Freaks. Actually, he did that in an interview a few years back:

As he scans the headlines every day, he sees “a slightly mad world where the genie has been let out of the bottle. And that genie is religion. There are so many fundamentalist extremists, whether it’s bin Laden or Arafat or Rumsfeld. Are we about to begin a war about God? A lot of people are now thinking, Christ, this is on. If it is, it will make the two previous world wars look like sideshows as we fight over whether my invisible friend is better than your invisible friend.”

But who knows, maybe the film will be more fairminded than I think. I did note this interview with a group of priests on his TV show. The tone is toward mockery but overall he’s fair. He ends with this:

ANDREW DENTON: Gentlemen, frankly I’m atheist, but you’re a great advertisement for what you do. Each of you, Dave, Sealin, Bob, thank you so much.

Yet this fairness did not extend to President Bush. In the same interview Denton refers to him as:

[T]he man doing God’s work on our earth, George W. Bush…

Then there’s this recent exchange with Bono:

ANDREW DENTON: You come from opposite ends of the world but you share faith. Is religion the way to get George Bush to listen?

BONO: He’s not simplistic. People think there’s a lot of fundamentalists running America. That is not true, that is a cliché. There is I think one fundamentalist in the Administration, that was John Ashcroft and he’s gone. I think Bush is a Methodist. I think he has a very deep, yes, faith but he’s not from what I can see a raving loony party member – we all know what they are.

Bono gave a good answer, but I don’t think Andrew was listening.

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