This week Capitalism: a Love Story, a new documentary by Academy-Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, debuted in New York. Moore has frequently been demonized by the religious right for being a socialist, pinko, atheist, and anarchist. But in an interview today with Democracy Now‘s Amy Goodman, he talked about his faith (something he has rarely done) and his new film…
AMY GOODMAN: There is a section of your film on religion that is very important, I think will speak to a lot of people, “Christianity and Capitalism,” and the film that you use to illustrate this, Jesus of Nazareth.
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, you know, this is the first I’ve ever really talked about this in any of my films, because I’m kind of loath to talk about religion. I think it’s a private matter, and I’m sick of hearing everybody discuss it or shove it down our throats. I’m not a proselytizer. I was raised Catholic. I am a Catholic. I have a lot of problems with the institution known as the Catholic Church, all the obvious ones that we don’t need to go into right now.
But the lessons that I was taught as a child, I’ve always felt were very good lessons, that we would be judged by how we treat the least among us; that the first shall be last, the last shall be first; that the rich man is going to have a very hard time getting into heaven. And one day, when someone asked Jesus, like, what’s the password to get in through the pearly gates, and JC said, “Well, actually, I’ll give it to you,” and he said, “This is what you’ve got to do. We’re going to ask you a series of questions when you get up there, and these are the questions. When I was hungry, did you feed me? When I was homeless, did you give me shelter? When I was sick, did you provide aid and comfort? When I was in prison, did you come visit me? If you did any of these things for the people who are the least among us, who have the least, then that means you did it for me, and you can now enter. But if you are thinking that you’re going to—if you’re going to live your life making as much money as you can and then using that money for your own purposes, for your own pleasure and enjoyment, and not share it with others, not help others, then, I’m sorry, that’s not going to—that’s not going to work.”
Now, I’m being a little facetious here, because, you know, the whole issue of the afterlife, I think, has always been used by those in power to get us just thinking about the reward that’s some place off in the distant future, like when we’re dead, so for right now just go ahead and, you know, suffer through whatever it is you’re suffering through.
But I believe—I’m just, you know, so tired of hearing this term, this idea that Christianity is somehow—or this is a Christian nation or whatever, and it’s like—well, first of all, there shouldn’t be any kind of a religious nation. But it’s also a lie, too, because what part of what Jesus said relates to what we’re doing now? I mean, I can’t see this guy, if he was here, you know, being part of a hedge fund. I can’t see, you know, Jesus trying to claw his way into the one percent so he can punk on the rest of the people. You know, I just—these people say they believe in him; I wish they actually would, frankly, because we’d be living in a kinder and gentler society.
(Incidentally, when pressed by Goodman as to whether he is a socialist, Moore declined the label. Perhaps his films give the answer: We’re a great country; we can do better.)