Kristen Fyfe

On the April 11 episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, self-admitted atheist Maher slandered Pope Benedict XVI in the name of comedy. 

Maher said Pope Benedict is the “cult leader” of a “child-abusing religious cult.”

Regular viewers of his program were not surprised by the verbal assault since Maher has made no secret of his loathing for religion in general and the Catholic Church in particular.  The comments are just the latest in a long history of hate-filled “comedy” from Maher.

On April 11 Maher compared the Pope and the Catholic Church to the polygamist cult in Texas that has been in the news recently. Here is a partial transcript of what Maher said:

“Whenever a cult leader sets himself up as God’s infallible wingman, here on Earth, lock away the kids. Which is why I’d like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult. Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats. That’s right, the Pope is coming to America this week and ladies, he’s single!

“Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘Bill, you shouldn’t be saying that the Catholic Church is no better than this creepy Texas cult.’ For one thing, altar boys can’t even get pregnant. But really, what tripped up the little cult on the prairie was that they only abused hundreds of kids, not thousands, all over the world. Cults get raided, religions get parades. How does the Catholic Church get away with all of their buggery? Volume, volume, volume!”

Maher went on to say that before Benedict became the pope he “wrote a letter instructing every Catholic bishop to keep the sex abuse of minors secret until the statute of limitations ran out. And that’s the Church’s attitude: ‘We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it.’”

As the Catholic League for Religious Freedom noted in a press release April 14, before he became the pope, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger “had absolutely nothing to do with the policing allegations of sexual abuse until 2002, after the scandal erupted.”

Branding the Pope a Nazi is another of Maher’s slanders.  As a young boy Pope Benedict was forcibly conscripted to join the German Youth organization, as all young German boys were at the time.  This is a matter of public record which the Pope has himself addressed.  For Maher’s “comedy” truth is irrelevant. (For the Newsbusters analysis of this issue, click here.)

Maher’s attacks on Catholicism are nothing new. Even the death of Pope John Paul II was fodder for Maher, who just days after the pontiff’s death in April 2005 said on his program:

“For those who did not make the funeral, the Vatican has asked that in lieu of flowers, just stop touching your d---.”

“People waited in line for 24 hours to see the pope’s body and when they got to see the pope they smelled worse than he did.”

In 2002 Maher publicly stated, “I have hated the church way before anyone else.  I have been pounding religion for nine years on this show.”  The show he referenced was Politically Incorrect which then aired on ABC.  ABC dropped the show from its lineup and Maher took his bigoted routine to HBO. 

The Culture and Media Institute, with the help of the Catholic League, has compiled a list of some of the vitriol Maher has directed at Catholics.

·        November, 1999: “Catholics practice what they want to practice.  They go to see the Pope ‘cause he’s a big celebrity, but they go home and they masturbate….”

·        August, 2000: “Priests, a lot of times, molest boys, okay?  They are celibate and it’s a magnet for homosexual pedophiles.” Actor William McNamara used Maher’s show to say the Catholic Church should allow priests to marry “to give the altar boys’ rectum a break.”

·        March, 2002: “Before puberty, I would say nobody caused me more pain than the Catholics … I apparently was not attractive enough to be hit on [by priests].”

·        May, 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.”

·        May, 2003: Maher had a limited run on Broadway with a show titled “Bill Maher: Victory Begins at Home.”  In it he included these pieces of scripted “humor.” 

“The problem is they drill religion into your head when you are very young.  Well, when you are four years old you believe in Santa Claus, too. Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, the Virgin Birth, sure!  When you’re a priest everyday spewing this bulls--- about the apple and the snake etc. you can see him just saying, ‘Ah, F--- it, just blow me, kid!”

“It’s so gay, the Church!  With the robes and the smoke and kneeling in front of the priest with your mouth open eating God.”

·        May, 2007:  “And it's easy to start a religion! Watch, I'll do it for you: I had a vision last night! A vision! The Blessed Virgin Mary came to me – I don't know how she got past the guards – and she told me it's high time to take the high ground from the Seventh Day Adventists and give it to the 24-hour party people. And what happens in the confessional stays in the confessional. Gay men, don't say you're life partners; say you're a nunnery of two. "We weren't having sex, officer, I was performing a very private Mass, here in my car. I was letting my rod and staff comfort him. Take this and eat of it, for this is my roommate Barry. And for all those who believe there is a special place for you in Kevin."

·        January, 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.”  On a different show he said, “…UFOs are a lot more likely than a space god [that] flew down bodily and you know who was the Son of God and you know had sex with a Palestinian woman.”

Maher’s anti-Catholic, anti-religion rhetoric is part of his schtick as a comedian.  It has also been given a very public platform, first by ABC and now by Time Warner and HBO.  Offensive material like this is also the cornerstone upon which Maher will build the publicity machine for his upcoming “anti-religion documentary” Religulous, due to be released in theaters in July. 

His agenda in all of this is clear: to tear down religious belief and believers.  In so doing he attacks a clear majority of Americans and a foundation of American society. When confronted by the Catholic League on why it continues to give Maher air time, HBO stated that Maher’s anti-Catholic remarks were a matter of “creative freedom.”  One wonders if HBO would be so sanguine if Maher’s vitriol was regularly aimed at Muslims.


Kristen Fyfe

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.

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