Is religion an ideal barometer of Western values or merely an oppressor of them? The conclusions set forth in the documentary The Theft of Our Values definitely fall into the latter category.
Christianity promotes itself as a great stabilizing force upon society. The religion's ideology is often cited as the only true cure for the illnesses of the world. In the midst of radical Islamic terrorism, for example, many believe that the only viable solution lies in a wider embrace of Christian values and teachings.
The film's point of view, however, is that Christianity itself is the problem, and constitutes a major threat to progress in nearly every aspect, including scientific advancement, rational thought and harmonious relations between individuals, institutions and nations alike. It's the great divider.
To illustrate his argument, the filmmaker provides a point by point dissection of The Defibrillator, a defense of God and Christianity penned by Christian philosopher David Wood.
While Wood and others claim that their religion has been an essential jumping off point for all meaningful scientific discovery throughout human history, the film contends that it has actually oppressed this progress only to take credit for it later. Centuries ago, scientists who asserted atheistic views were often burned at the stake; therefore, the preponderance of early scientific progress harbored ties to the Christian faith. Today, in our more tolerant times, the scientific community is overwhelmingly populated by atheists.
The film also protests the notion that the United States was founded upon Christian values. How could that be when so many of the country's basic freedoms - including freedom of speech, the press and religion - are antithetical to those values?
Additional talking points include the barbaric torture of atheists throughout history, the beliefs of influential figures during the Scientific Revolution, the separation of church and state, and religious iconography as depicted in our most enduring works of art.
Confidently researched and narrated with forceful clarity, The Theft of Our Values may prove divisive to viewers who don't share the filmmaker's atheistic tendencies. But many others will appreciate the opportunity to ponder a thoughtful voice of opposition.