Tuesday, January 3, 2017

MLM and Religulous (Bill Maher Documentary)

Today's blog post is about a recent documentary I watched again over my holiday vacation. The documentary explores different religions that stem from the bible, and some of the interesting people involved with these different denominations of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Mormonism, and Catholicism. While Bill Maher is not my favorite documentary host, he does a good job of plainly exposing simple "truths" upheld by religious fanatics. If you can get past his implicit bias and sensationalism, then I believe there is a lot to be learned from this documentary and there can be a lot of connections made to MLM.

The three main points I would like to focus on from this documentary are:

1. He focuses on questioning, "truths" that can't be explained by anything other than taking a leap of faith.

Throughout the documentary he confronts both followers and leaders about the supposed evidence to support claims of  miracles and teachings. He asks people to delve into their critical thinking abilities and try to describe a similar scenario to someone that is not a believer or insider without sounding crazy. An example of this is the story of Joseph Jonah, and how he survived for 3 days inside of a giant fish. There seemed to be a massive amount of cognitive dissonance around this story and the idea that maybe this wasn't factual or couldn't be proven.

MLMs have a notorious failure rate, and yet people see evidence of success within their companies. As they attend functions and seminars, they are consistently reminded that the highest ranks are achievable and they are living fabulous lives. MLMers are taught to focus on their dreams in an effort to escape the horrific reality of the scheme. Their blind faith in the evidence is only supported by the companies themselves and publications sponsored by the companies (such as the DSA, Inc Magazine) while the rest is made up hogwash from the sponsors passed down through the "leaders".

2. He focuses on the "leaders" of organized religion and how they choose to "interpret" the meanings of the bible.

The leaders in the documentary are fascinating because they embrace the writings to best conform to their ideals. One of the leaders tries to twist Jesus into a wealthy messiah that came from not-so-humble beginnings, while another actually suggested he was the second coming, but was also a descendant? There was a catholic priest that suggested science discredits the teachings of the bible and another catholic priest that basically said, they are nice stories but most of it isn't true. Finally, you have a rabbi helping Turkey fight against Israel, and you have a group of Muslims stating they preach peace while reciting scriptures that suggest imperialism and death to infidels.

MLMers have an interesting way of twisting words to better suit their needs as well, and rarely are able to come to terms with inconsistencies. At an FED I attended, I listened as MLM leaders came out on stage, after an introduction video which reflected MTV Cribs on steroids, and acted as though they were part of the common people. Meanwhile, they sat in isolation behind the scenes, and walked through the audience as celebrities, while the majority of MLMers were suffering tremendous losses for those "leaders" to have a comfortable lifestyle.

3. He focuses on the violence of religion and the us vs. them mentality.

Maher captures the violence of religion by three mediums, news footage, a death scene of Jesus Christ at an amusement park, and the language involved in the writings. There is an overlying theme between all of the Jewish denominations which is, one of them is right, and the rest are sworn enemies. The other overlying theme is the day of reckoning, known as Armageddon, which suggests everyone will perish and only the people of their chosen religion will be saved.

MLMers have a very similar view of the world, and it doesn't come as a surprise that they use religion to help fuel their objectives. While they may not be solely interested in the destruction of everyone else, they do not hesitate to impose their views while suggesting everyone else is doomed to fail. They preach their work is noble and everyone else is a slave to a time clock and a pay check, and they also preach any defectors from the group are evil (quitters, failures, deniers). They introduce only one path to salvation (retirement), and that involves endless obedience over an indiscreet timeline (your entire life to the business).

If you have a story involving abuses from your upline and would like me to share it on this blog as a guest post, then please e-mail me and I will be more than happy to post it! Your stories are not as unique as you may think, and your stories are some of the most impactful resources we have to fight MLMs. I will keep your anonymity upon request.


  1. It was actually Jonah who spent three days in the belly of a fish. It's because he ran from God instead of going to Ninevah to spread the word.

    1. Thank you for the correction Joe. I have updated the post accordingly.