In a era when some mainstream entertainers have transitioned to targeting faith-based audiences, David Bazan is moving in the other direction.
The gifted songwriter’s ersatz band Pedro the Lion was perhaps the most successful Christian indie rock act of its time, and the first to significantly cross over to secular fans. Then he ditched that persona (and lost much of his fanbase), not in an attempt to “sell out,” but rather amid public acknowledgement that he had suffered a serious loss of religious faith.
Brandon Vedder’s “Strange Negotiations” is a music documentary whose interest goes beyond the usual realms of performance footage and personality, since Bazan is so forthcoming about his “breakup with God” that continues to impact his art, career, and life.
Particularly with U.S. evangelicals in greater political ascendance than ever before, Bazan’s personal issues lend a larger philosophical depth to this insightful DIY-style portrait.
Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds has called on religious leaders to denounce so-called conversion therapies and instead promote greater tolerance of LGBTQ+ children.
Reynolds is an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ+ rights and fronted the 2017 documentary “Believer” – which explored how the LGBTQ+ community is treated by his own Mormon faith.
Posting on Twitter last week, Reynolds called for religious leaders to “stand up for equality.”
“I plead with our religious leaders across the world to stand up for equality together. true equality – not empty words of love – but statements and actions thats show our LGBTQ youth that they are “sinless” and perfect just as they are,” he wrote.
In the rolling Tuscan hills of Italy, the Vatican’s most prominent exorcist fights the true essence of evil. Father Raffaele Talmelli is engaged in an age-old tradition, but he takes a decidedly unorthodox approach to battling demons.
Ivan Olita’s short documentary “Contra Dæmones” offers an inside look at the modern exorcist’s practice.
In contrast to commonly held conceptions of exorcists, Father Talmelli is a trained psychiatrist. There’s little folklore in his approach to religion and evil.
“It’s not blind faith and fanatic beliefs; instead, it’s about deep knowledge of the writings and a very wise and philosophical approach to life and the fundamental questions that define it,” Olita told The Atlantic.
Thirty-year-old Bentinho Massaro has hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, supporters that the spiritual guru gained through his teachings about self-realization, enlightenment, and the idea of upgrading civilization.
While some of Massaro’s ideas are pretty standard, like the importance of silent meditation, others are controversial: he’s said that 9/11 was an inside job, that he can control the weather, and that human beings might one day join forces with extraterrestrials.
For an inside look at Massaro’s teachings, VICE went to one of his retreats in the Netherlands, speaking with his colleagues, followers, and Massaro himself to try to understand exactly what the appeal is—and what he makes of the accusations against him.
Let’s get a few things out of the way about The Satanic Temple, the religious/activist group at the center of “Hail Satan,” which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
Members of The Satanic Temple say they don’t actually worship Satan or even believe in him. They want nothing to do with the murders and child abuse attributed to Satanism during the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, and their only human sacrifices are the tremendous sacrifices of their own time, in the name of humanity.
The temple’s core belief — that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion — isn’t some kooky commandment they invented during a black mass. It’s the first line of the First Amendment.
The group’s modus operandi is to present Satanism as a religion that deserves equal time with Christianity, in order to call attention to the un-Constitutionality of Christianity in public spaces.
They never win their fights to erect Satanic statues alongside displays of the Ten Commandments outside Bible Belt state buildings.
But that’s never the goal: The goal is to help people realize that the Ten Commandments have no business on government grounds either.