CBS: Bill Maher Bashes Religion; ‘Afraid’ of ‘Sarah Palins of the World’

On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to comedian Bill Maher on his new anti-religion movie and Maher declared: "Isn't there time for one [movie] for the tens of millions of people who are rationalists, who think like I do, and who are afraid that the Sarah Palins of the world are going to be taking over? We've had eight years of George Bush and a faith-based administration. We can't afford another."Following that comment, Smith observed: "Here's the thing that was an underlying thought. And this -- a serious thought, I thought. In the movie was you wish that Christians were more -- if they were really going to be Christians, would be more Christ-like?" Maher replied: "Don't we all? I think everybody -- I mean, that's something I don't think is even controversial that the message of Jesus, which is very good. It's about love and, you know, forgiveness. It's certainly not about shooting wolves from an airplane. That gets lost with all the nonsense and the bells and whistles." Smith responded by loudly laughing at the jab at Sarah Palin, who as governor approved shooting wolves as a means of controlling the wolf population in Alaska.Maher pretended to not be anti-religion, simply unsure: "I don't like the word atheist because to me it mirrors the certainty of religion. I preach the gospel of I don't know." Co-host Julie Chen teased the segment using a similar taking point: "Also, the man who preaches the gospel of doubt is here. We're going to talk religion and politics with comedian Bill Maher." However, Maher seemed quite certain that religion was just a big joke: "Well, my motivation is to make people laugh. I mean, religion to me is a giant elephant in the room of comic gold because, you know, we're talking about garden with a talking snake. If you can't find humor there. People are just used to it, that's why they don't laugh at it." In another tease of the segment, co-host Maggie Rodriguez was excited by Maher’s appearance: "And we're going to get a little politically incorrect with comedian Bill Maher. He's going to talk politics, Palin, and religion, which is the topic of his new movie. You know, it's like anything goes when Bill's here... Can't wait for that." Here is the full transcript of the segment:

7:00AM TEASER:JULIE CHEN: And another superstar edition, Bill Maher.7:38AM TEASER:MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: We got a lot of stars on here this morning. Bill Maher's coming in to talk about his new movie, which is controversial, as you would expect from Bill Maher.8:01AM TEASER:CHEN: Also, the man who preaches the gospel of doubt is here. We're going to talk religion and politics with comedian Bill Maher.8:30AM TEASER:RODRIGUEZ: And we're going to get a little politically incorrect with comedian Bill Maher. He's going to talk politics, Palin, and religion, which is the topic of his new movie. You know, it's like anything goes when Bill's here. CHEN: Absolutely.RODRIGUEZ: Can't wait for that. 8:40AM SEGMENT: HARRY SMITH: Bill Maher, host of 'Real Time With Bill Maher,' is tackling an often taboo subject, organized religion. This time, in his new movie 'Religulous.' BILL MAHER: Who are you Biblically?UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I am Jesus Christ man, the second coming of Christ, I am.MAHER: Not just because you have -- you share the name Jesus?MAN: No, not because of that, no. MAHER: Because you also share the name Miranda, maybe you're Carmen Miranda. You may be the second coming of her. You should have fruit on your head, instead of fruit in your head.SMITH: Bill Maher is with us this morning. Where did you find that guy? MAHER: We found that guy in Miami, where he preaches. He claims to have thousands, hundreds of thousands of followers. He probably does.SMITH: Yeah? MAHER: I mean, he proves that it's just way too easy to start a religion.SMITH: There you go. I wanted to talk about your background first.MAHER: Sure.SMITH: Right, because your mother was Jewish, your father was Catholic. MAHER: Yeah.SMITH: You were raised Catholic?MAHER: Yes.SMITH: Until 13 years old? MAHER: Well, yes. That's about when my father quit. You know, I did an interview with my mother and my sister, it is in the movie. My mother gets me my first laughs and it was great to see it finally in front of an audience in a theater. And, you know, there she is. She didn't want to do it. She was 88 years old.SMITH: Right.MAHER: And -- but she did it for me and I wanted to ask her on camera, I had never asked her these questions. SMITH: Sure. MAHER: Which was how come I didn't find out till I was 13 that I was half Jewish? They never said anything to me. My sister, my father, and I went to church every Sunday and catechism, the kids went, and my mother never went. And I never -- you know when something is a routine from the time you're an infant, you don't question it. So I wanted to ask my mother that and I also wanted to ask her 'why did you stop going? Why did Dad stop going to church at 13?' And she blew me away with the answer, which was that the church outlawed birth control and, of course, I thought well, my parents had sex twice like every parent, you know, for my sister and me and that was it.SMITH: In their entire history, right.MAHER: Why would that be something that would involve them? So it was interesting. And she really kicks off the movie and sets it in a setting, in a place where people can relate to it, even though I had kind of a weird upbringing, you know, as she says, you know, every family is dysfunctional.SMITH: And there were -- therein lies the seeds of doubt, which is really your motivation in this entire movie, you're just trying to-MAHER: Well, my motivation is to make people laugh. I mean, religion to me is a giant elephant in the room of comic gold because, you know, we're talking about garden with a talking snake. If you can't find humor there. People are just used to it, that's why they don't laugh at it. So it's a very funny movie. It's a comedy. It's not really a documentary but, yes, I also think there's an important point to be made and that does have to do with doubt. SMITH: Right.MAHER: I don't like the word atheist because to me it mirrors the certainty of religion. I preach the gospel of I don't know. And I think, you know, people have had so many religious movies, they've had the 'Passion of the Christ' and they've had 'The Robe' and 'The Ten Commandments.' Isn't there time for one for the tens of millions of people who are rationalists, who think like I do, and who are afraid that the Sarah Palins of the world are going to be taking over? We've had eight years of George Bush and a faith-based administration. We can't afford another. SMITH: Here's the thing that was an underlying thought. And this -- a serious thought, I thought. In the movie was you wish that Christians were more -- if they were really going to be Christians, would be more Christ-like? MAHER: Don't we all? I think everybody -- I mean, that's something I don't think is even controversial that the message of Jesus, which is very good. It's about love and, you know, forgiveness. It's certainly not about shooting wolves from an airplane. That gets lost with all the nonsense and the bells and whistles. SMITH: [Loud Laughter] There you go. Bill Maher, thank you so much. .'Religulous' is the movie. MAHER: 'Religulous.' SMITH: There you go.MAHER: I know, it's a hard word. SMITH: Yeah it is.
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC