A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark has responded to reports that comedian Bill Maher filmed part of his anti-religion documentary “Religulous” at a parish in the archdiocese.
Maher set part of the film at Our Lady of Mercy in Park Ridge, New Jersey. The relevant scenes show his sister and his Jewish mother, who explains why his Catholic father stopped going to church.
Jim Goodness, an archdiocesan spokesman, told The Record that he turned down two requests to use the church property, one from Maher’s production company and one from the parish.
"This certainly would not be the kind of project we would have given a green light to," he said.
Goodness explained that the archdiocese doesn’t allow church property to be used for commercial purposes.
"And I personally didn't trust Mr. Maher," Goodness told The Record.
"Obviously, our policies were not followed."
According to the Associated Press, Goodness said the parish pastor Father Charles Grandstrand was aware of the policy.
However, according to Goodness, filmmakers told Father Grandstrand that Maher wanted to film his mother there because the Church was such a big part of her life.
Maher has admitted that he didn’t tell people his movie would take its name from a combination of the words “religion” and “ridiculous.” Instead, he told them the film would be named “A Spiritual Journey.”
On Thursday the Star-Ledger reported that Father Grandstrand claims Goodness told the church to reject the production company’s request to film a Mass but told the parish’s administrative assistant it would be alright to let Maher talk to his mother in the church.
Goodness responded by saying he remembered the events differently and had told the priest not to let the company film anything inside the church.