Monday, May 6, 2013

Laughing with the Bill Maher-Catholic League Feud

The Catholic League has been busily defending its religion against awful people like HBO comedian/commentator Bill Maher, who, according to the League, has made too many jokes at the expense of the faith.

The League demanded that someone in authority at HBO talk to Maher, host of “Real Time,” and get him to curtail some of his jokes. As if that’s going to happen in a country that prides itself on freedom of speech. 

Besides, there’s a way the Catholic League can do the job itself: just don’t watch the show.  There’s a strong precedent: boycotts were so popular with the Red-baiting folks in the 1950s that many performers were blacklisted and advertisers pulled out support.

We all want to go back to those good, old days of hate mongering and death by innuendo.

On the other hand, Maher is probably happy with the Catholic League’s stance.  He’s getting a ton of publicity in a time when multiple cable outlets have diced the audience so well that his show has a limited following.  Now, a whole bunch of people may tune in just to find out what’s so terrible.

Catholic League logo
Nor is the Catholic League really that unhappy.  It needs publicity, too.  That’s why one of the icons on the page devoted to the Maher “insults” includes the word “donate.”  With so many places seeking money, a little extra publicity helps garner attention.  The League will probably net a few extra thousand for the Church.

That money will come in handy to pay off some of the claimants of sexual abuse.

Oops. Bad joke.

This whole thing reminds me of the time when a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in 2005.  Muslims took offense at them and demanded – sometime violently – an apology.  The drawings were reprinted and circulated around the world, including a whole bunch more.

The worst cartoons actually turned out to have been produced by an Islamic group in hopes of gaining more support, donations etc.

Sounds familiar to the Maher-Catholic League brouhaha.  The League shows how terrible Maher is and garners all sorts of additional support and money.

So what did Maher say that caused the Catholic League to get a glint in its eye?  In the spirit of helping the League reach its fund-raising goals, here are some of Maher’s jokes as published on the Catholic League website:

March 22, 2013: After labeling the pope a “virgin bachelor,” Maher opined, “What other business could you be in where your company gets caught running a child sex ring since forever and you still keep your customers?”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
February 15, 2013: “Now…as you all know, this week, Pope Benedict told Vatican Radio—you know, Vatican Radio, playing the hits from the 8th century, 9th century and today—Benedict told them he was going to resign because the Church needs a fresh, young face, somewhere other than in a priest’s lap.”

February 11, 2013: “We found early this year or last year in the Republican primaries when the Republicans made contraception an issue, 98 percent of Catholics use birth control and the only ones who don’t are the priests. They would if altar boys could get pregnant.”

March 11, 2011:  “The Catholic Church is changing. We get it. You don’t want us touching your kids. Message received. This chart shows alleged inappropriate behavior toward children since 90 AD. (Chart shows arrow going up every year) When we first started keeping records. We are going to bring those numbers down. We are not miracle workers, but here is our pledge to you. You bring your kids back to church, and there will be a significantly lower chance that he or she will be inappropriately touched — particularly she. And if one of our priests does touch one of your kids, you will dine absolutely free at Long John Silver’s. We’re the new Catholic Church, and we know it’s time to roll up our sleeves and pull up our pants.”

September 28, 2010: “Religion is all about sticking in fingers in your ears and humming. They don’t want to hear what the reality is. They want to believe what they believe. It’s — it’s not about critical thinking. I mean, faith is the purposeful suspension of critical thinking.”

“I don’t know if anybody could read the Bible and still want to be a religious person. It is a book that is filled with immorality, wickedness, and then just plain silliness.”

April 11, 2008:  “If you have a few hundred followers and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If you have a billion, they call you ‘pope.’”

February 4, 2008: “They accuse me of being a Catholic bigot. First of all, I don’t have it out especially for Catholics. I think all religions are coo-coo. Ok? It’s not just the Catholics. I’m not a bigot. Just because I wish for the demise of an organization that I think is entirely destructive to the human race, that doesn’t make me a bigot. I also wish for [the] demise of Hamas and the KKK.”

January 4, 2008: “You can’t be a rational person six days of the week and put on a suit and make rational decisions and go to work and, on one day of the week, go to a building and think you’re drinking the blood of a 2,000-year-old space god. That doesn’t make you a person of faith…That makes you a schizophrenic.”

May 2003; “Don’t regulate drugs: regulate religion. I was raised Catholic and I was not molested. I’m a little insulted. Apparently, I wasn’t attractive enough.”

May 10, 2002: “I offer this modest proposal that the Catholic Church just drop the pretense and just go gay. Just come out of the confessional. Preach the sermon on the mountain. Embrace it. Let the straight people be Baptists. It’s high time you gay Catholics stood up and announced to the world, ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get Eucharist.’”

October 27, 2000: “Christianity is grafted from paganism… It’s all about a man in the sky who’s going to send you in a burning lake of fire if you screw up… Which is the perfect description of religion itself.  I mean, what is scarier than drinking the man’s blood every Sunday? That’s not a spooky ritual? ‘Here kids, drink his blood and eat his body.’ Like that’s not pagan? What can be more pagan than that?”

November 10, 1999: “You shouldn’t, I don’t think, lump the synagogue in with the Church. They operate very differently, OK. The synagogue—and I’m not Jewish, but I was raised Catholic—was never as corrupt as the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church, which is people, not God running it, OK, hugely corrupt, did horrible things through history, maybe…because they were that powerful.”

February 4, 1999: “The pope had his dress up about the abortion issue.”

October 8, 1998: “But Catholics nowadays are like, you know, ‘The pope says we shouldn’t do this and this, but we really wanna pick and choose the parts of the religion that we feel fits us. You know the pope says you shouldn’t masturbate or have abortions, but that’s fine for him, he’s an elderly man, but for us…’”

There were many more, but you get the idea. I’m just doing my part to help the Catholic League.

Long-time religious historian Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history.  He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida.  You can reach him at  He is the author of the famed Unauthorized Biography of Nostradamus; The Last Testament of Simon Peter; The Gospel Truth: Where Did the Gospel Writers Get Their Information; Noel: The Lore and Tradition of Christmas Carols; and Dummies Guide to Comparative Religion.  His books are available on, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers.  He can also be followed on Twitter.

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