Bill Maher seldom takes on a role as defender of religions, but the liberal late night talk show host and comedian found himself in that position on a recent episode of his HBO series Real Time.
During the Friday night, March 24, episode, Bill butted heads with Louise Mensch and Chris Hayes over the topic of Islam. For those of you thinking Maher actually had something good to say about the religion following a year’s worth of verbal attacks, think again.
Mensch, an English author and independent journalist whose reporting on a rumored FISA warrant against Trump Tower for HeatStreet drew attention earlier this year, and Hayes, a liberal opinion commentator for MSNBC, were part of the panel that clashed with Bill for once again setting his sights on Islam.
Mensch took exception to Maher’s remark that no one could say that terror attacks like the one that happened in London this week had “nothing to do with Islam,” retorting that no one could say the 1995 Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh “had nothing to do with Roman Catholicism.”
Bill Maher’s response?
“Every time some bomb goes off, before it goes off, somebody yells ‘Allahu Akbar.’ I never hear anybody go ‘Merry Christmas. This one’s for the flying nun.'”
Maher also said no one sees “Christian terrorist armies like ISIS” making an impact in the world. What about the IRA — Irish Republican Army, tied to the Catholic Church and more active during the 1980s — Hayes asked?
“That’s the past! But we’re living now!… Let’s not f**k around with this anymore, can we get real?” Bill shot back.
This is hardly the first time that Maher has gone against Islam for some-in-the-faith’s more controversial views.
Going all the way back to his 2014 program that involved fellow atheist, author, and friend Sam Harris and the actor Ben Affleck, Bill joined with Harris in rattling off the details of a Pew Research Poll that found some pretty astounding views even among moderate Muslims.
Among those views — three-out-of-four Palestinians favor stoning as punishment for adulterers; 58 percent of Jordanians support corporal punishments including partial dismemberment for lesser crimes (like theft); and 85 percent of Moroccans believe children should receive equal shares of an inheritance (weighted in favor of male children).
Harris said during the episode that Islam is “the motherlode of bad ideas,” touching off a heated argument with Affleck, who accused him and Bill Maher of sounding Islamophobic.
Maher frequently pressures the religion for findings such as those above, particularly when there is a terrorist attack in the news. It has gotten him pushback from those within his own political ideology with liberal websites like Salon and Huffington Post calling him out, and University of California-Berkeley students demanding the cancellation of a planned keynote speech.
In the end, Maher was not disinvited.
While Bill Maher has also served up ample public criticism toward Christianity, past stabs at the religion — such as his documentary Religulous — have taken a back seat to his views on Islam.
He has even seemed conciliatory at times, such as in this remark to Charlie Rose drawing distinctions between Islam and the Christian faith, as relayed by Real Clear Politics.
“Vast numbers of Christians do not believe that if you leave the Christian religion you should be killed for it. Vast numbers of Christians do not treat women as second class citizens. Vast numbers of Christians… do not believe if you draw a picture of Jesus Christ you should get killed for it.”
What do you think of Bill Maher’s point in drawing a distinction between Christianity and Islam? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by HBO]