Reflecting on our "Religulous" Winter Retreat Post 1

Last weekend we went on our Sr. High Winter Retreat to Harvey Cedars. For the past few years, these winter retreats have been very confirming moments in our youth ministry. We’ve been doing movie-themed weekends (Crash, Saved!, The Matrix) and getting into deeper discussions than we normally get to during our Wednesday night gatherings. Being away from a Friday to a Monday, not having school the next day and having multiple sessions allows for us to dive deeper into our themes.

This year we showed Religulous and our main themes centered around doubt, faith and practice.

What’s interesting to us about Bill Maher is that he grew up in Rivervale, NJ and graduated from Pascack Valley High school which is less than a mile from our church and of course attended by several of our students. He grew up attending a Catholic church in the next town as well. As his story goes, they stopped attending when he turned 13. We laughed several times at these connections and we couldn’t resist wondering if Bill ever visited our church.

What would we have said to him? What should we have said? We made it clear that we ought not to demonize Bill. He’s not an enemy of the faith. In fact, he brings up various points that we found easy to agree with. Generally speaking most of the types of Christianity he presents in his mockumentary are types of Christianity that I disagree with as well. From greedy televangelists to characters and visitors at Orlando’s Holy Land Experience, I shook my head too many times frustrated by what is considered “Christian”. We all did.

While it is necessary for us to remain humble and acknowledge the many stumbling blocks that we have created, I hope we were reminded that we desperately need to be a better Church. We need to practice a better Christianity.

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