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Filmmaker Releases DVD on Satire
When Murray Stiller got the idea of doing a documentary about why religious satire is cynical and mean, the project was born.

Veteran film editor and sound designer Murray Stiller’s new documentary Nailin’ It to the Church answers the question, When does religious satire stop being funny and start being mean?

Anything from televangelists to the prosperity gospel is fair game on Murray Stiller’s new DVD.

The documentary ( began as Stiller’s Regent College master’s degree thesis until he was told the idea of a biting, religious satire was too cynical and mean.

“Why not do a documentary about why religious satire is cynical and mean,” Stiller asked himself – and the project was born.

Stiller’s research led from the origins of the Greek and Roman satirists to gentle, self-reflective satirists like Garrison Keillor (Prairie Home Companion) and Stuart McLean (CBC’s Vinyl Café) and harsh, biting satirists like Bill Maher (Politically Incorrect and Real Time With Bill Maher) and the late George Carlin.

It also eventually led to The Wittenburg Door, a magazine both loved and hated for its satire of the Christian community.

“The people at The Wittenburg Door were the first I thought of. As the kid of a youth minister [his father, Brian Stiller, is now president of Tyndale University College and Seminary] and grandson of a Pentecostal preacher, The Wittenburg Door was regularly found in the stack of reading material under our coffee table. I read it right alongside my MAD magazine,” recalls Stiller.

The film, like The Door (which shut down in 2007), uses satire to critique televangelists, politically motivated Christians, megachurches and the prosperity gospel movement. It also looks at who can and can’t satirize the Church, along with what should or shouldn’t be a target of satire.

Originally published in Faith Today, January/February 2009.




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