It could be considered a common assumption that most late night comedians would share atheistic inclinations. That is likely the impression which many audience members may receive when engaging with the entertainment industry in general. There is also the strong relationship and camaraderie between big players such as Stephen Colbert and Bill Maher, the later well known for his critiques of organized religion, particular during his film vehicle title Religulous.
One may be forgiven for presuming that Stephen Colbert was also an atheist. And depending on what point in time the question was asked of the notable comedian, the answer would have differed greatly.
For some portions of his life, Colbert was an atheist. But prior to that, he was a Catholic. Now, he is a Catholic again — and has no hesitation in talking about it publicly.
Via Fox News, Colbert does an interview with James Martin on his Catholic talk show Faith in Focus.
“I had lost my faith in God, to my great grief,” Colbert said. “I was sort of convinced that I had been wrong all this time that I had been taught something that wasn’t true.”
Stephen Colbert is not alone when it comes to losing his faith. The Pew Research Center takes a closer look at America’s rapidly growing religious “nones.” Indeed, religious nones are the fastest growing demographic group as it pertains to religiosity and spirituality — and have been for a long time. Many of them come from people who once held dearly to faith.
For Colbert, walking away from his family faith was not easy, and returning was a comfort. He describes the moment which he regained his Catholic faith. Someone handed him a little green New Testament and Psalms bible. He was moved to search the glossary, and landed on a passage about anxiety which spoke to him at that moment in his life. Fox News reports on his reaction.
“For the first time I understood the real meaning of the phrase, it spoke to me. Like it read off the page. The words of Christ read off the page. There was no effort. I stood on that street corner in the cold and read that sermon. And my life has never been the same,” Colbert said.
When asked about his view of God, Colbert quickly dismissed the God of the Old Testament. He envisions Jesus. Further, he describes conjuring an image of Jesus that quickly dissolves into the eternal.
Colbert insists that, for him, it is all about love. He did not go deeply into religious views. But his stated faith is not dissimilar to what many would call liberal Christianity. The person of Jesus is more important than the Old Testament God — which Colbert did not mention in detail during his remarks.
Colbert is not the only major celebrity who has publicly declared his religion. For many years, Tom Cruise has been the public face of Scientology. He has been in the news recently for declaring his home off-limits to people who are not Scientologists.
Presumably, that would include Stephen Colbert.