James Underdown Gets 'Religulous'


The last time this blog and Jim Underdown, executive director of the Center For Inquiry - Los Angeles passed some serious time together, this was the result.

"On the longest day of the year, a man dressed in black rides shotgun in a cheap white Toyota, stuck in post-theater gridlock, trying to exit the Crystal Cathedral parking lot.

"All right," he says. "Which one of these good Christians is going to let a Jew and an atheist in?"

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"Not the first car. Not the second. What would Jesus do? The Jew and the atheist bully their way into traffic like a creationist onto a Kansas school board...."

So perhaps it was no surprise that when this blog contacted Underdown to talk think tanks, one of the many current event and pop culture matters on e.d.'s mind was the film "Religulous," by comedian Bill Maher and director Larry Charles.

Sitting inside the conference room and library next to the CFI's Steve Allen Theater, where a Religulous poster was on display in the lobby, Underdown talked about being non-plussed by "Maher's Mockery Misses the Point," an Opinion piece written by Rabbi David Wolpe, of Sinai Temple, and published in the Los Angeles Times

Underdown told this blog that day that in response, he'd written a letter to the editor. That letter was subsequently published.

Here's the opening of Wolpe's piece:

"There are three problems with Bill Maher's new movie mocking faith: It misunderstands religion, misconceives God and gets human nature all wrong."

And here's the beginning of Underdown's reply:

"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!"

Underdown, by the way, used to work as a comedian.

More coming soon from our time spent at the CFI and conversation with Underdown...

Coming Next Post: Dorothy, We're Not at The Heritage Foundation Anymore

CFI Los Angeles executive director James Underdown, in his office.
Photo Copyright 2008 & Courtesy Jeremy Rosenberg

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