Penn Jillette: It Was a ‘Shock’ That Religious Americans are the ‘Most Tolerant People Worldwide’

On Tuesday’s Lopez Tonight on TBS, magicians Penn and Teller appeared as guests, and, while discussing their controversial program "Bullshit!" on Showtime, and the show’s history of criticizing religion, Penn Jillette conceded a compliment to American Christians that they are "the most tolerant people worldwide." He also admitted that it was a "shock" to discover the relative tolerance of American Christians after the airing of the show from last August attacking the Catholic Church, as he compared reaction from Christians to that from other groups the show has attacked, such as 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Jillette:

Well, you know, we've done heavy stuff. I mean, we've done the Vatican. We've done Mother Teresa. We've done the Dalai Lama. We've done really, really heavy subjects. And I've got to say it was actually a shock doing the show, the religious communities in the United States of America are the most tolerant people worldwide. I mean, we did really aggressive stuff we believe strongly, and mostly got letters from Christians and Catholics saying we really like how passionately and clearly you put out your ideas. Very few nut cases.

But it could also be argued that Jillette’s account makes American Christians sound almost too accepting of the show’s criticism of Christianity and downplays the fact that there was legitimate criticism of the show and its accuracy.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday, May 25, Lopez Tonight on TBS:

GEORGE LOPEZ: Congratulations on eight years of Bullshit on Showtime. Eight years! (AUDIENCE APPLAUSE) Great consequence show, too, to take on people’s ideas. Tell everybody a little bit about what Bullshit is about.

PENN JILLETTE: Well, it’s just essentially a pro-science show and a skeptical show, but, comedically, you know, it's stated in the negative, but it really is just a celebration of what human beings know and know to be true, just said in a really negative way with a lot of obscenity and nudity.

LOPEZ: Well said.

JILLETTE: What more do you want?

LOPEZ: And have you gotten any shit for stuff that you guys have covered that people have been upset about?

JILLETTE: Well, you know, we’ve done heavy stuff. I mean, we've done the Vatican. We've done Mother Teresa. We've done the Dalai Lama. We've done really, really heavy subjects. And I've got to say it was actually a shock doing the show, the religious communities in the United States of America are the most tolerant people worldwide. I mean, we did really aggressive stuff we believe strongly, and mostly got letters from Christians and Catholics saying we really like how passionately and clearly you put out your ideas. Very few nut cases. However, the nut cases were the 9/11 conspiracy people, who we thought, you know, they're kind of nerdy, they'll be okay. They actually showed up at the offices to attack some of the writers, you know, verbally. And the chiropractors, chiropractors, we did the show on chiropracty, and they went absolutely bug nutty, and like 75 chiropractors showed up at our show at Rio, watched our whole show, then came up after and said we want you to know because of your Bullshit show we are boycotting you. And I went, 75 of you have just bought tickets in order to tell us, I guess not only is your medical science bad, your math really sucks. When you're doing a boycott, you don't give the people money. You don't show up, give them money, and then say now we're boycotting.