BILL MAHER: A MODERN DAY PAUL IN ATHEIST CLOTHING?
By Cheryl Chumley
September 23, 2014
Bill Maher, famed HBO comedy host and the mind behind the making of the faith mock, Religulous – in which he sets out to prove that all religion is bad for society – has a new rrant out, the "Funny or Die" production, "Bill Maher's Dirty Secret."
His big dirty secret? Spoiler alert: He's not an atheist after all.
It's a satire, of course, that opens with him on bended knees, holding a rosary and worshipping before a portrait of what appears to be the Virgin Mary. A woman then walks into the room and asks, with shock in her voice: "What are you doing?"
While standing, Maher crosses himself over the chest and tells her, "praying."
The wide-eyed woman then points to what the world believed: "Bill, you're an atheist. Everybody knows you're an atheist."
And Maher's big punchline: "Well, everybody in the business knows I play an atheist. This is an act. This is what we do. This is Hollywood, sweetheart."
So the joke is that it's all a schtick – even his 2008 "Religulous" movie that denounced the world's faiths as destructive to societies. Maher's atheist persona is simply about making a living.
"I made a movie because that's where the money is," he says to the woman, in the "Dirty Secret" video. "If stupid atheists want to give me their money, go around all the country, see me play – every place I play, I take that money, I give itt to local churches. This is strictly for enforcing religious dogma because that's what it's all about."
He then goes on to mock Jesus, claiming to have had a vision of a "white light that came into the room, floated down just the way you pictured him, the beard, the hair, the robes, and he sat on the edge of the bed and we had a conversation. And he just told me – have fun with it. That's what he said. Just have fun with it. Because [Jesus] said if you do the right thing, you're going to get to Heaven."
Pretty funny, right? Almost as amusing as when he went on a tirade a few months ago during his "New Rules" segment on HBO's "Real Time," during which he called Americans "stupid" for believing in the Bible – a book he characterized as filled with arbitrary rules and fantastical stories. Take the story of Noah's Ark, for example, he said.
That's the one about a "psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it and his name is God," Maher said, back in March. "What kind of tyrant kills everyone just to get back at the few he's mad at?"
His comments, predictably, generated widespread comment and criticisms. The Catholic League called on Maher's bosses to have a 'serious talk' with him, The Huffington Post reported. Fox News' Kimberly Guilfoyle, meanwhile, summed up what many of faith were thinking of Maher in the wake of his rant: "He's so desperate for ratings, or he's really trying hard to audition for the role of devil. I don't understand what is wrong with this man, but he's dark and disgusting inside."
Moreover, those rants are just a drop in Maher's bucket of railings against religion and those of all faiths. He's constantly calling Christians stupid, Jews intellectually inferior, and painting those of all faiths as living in a land of Oz. But rather than lashing back, here's another way to regard Maher – and one that could certainly bring glory to God in the end. What if Maher were a modern day Paul?
What if Maher could actually be used by God in much the same way his apostles were during Jesus' walk on Earth?
What if by prayer and pleading the Christians in America called upon God to turn Maher's heart and to open his eyes –so that today's avowed hater of Christ becomes one of tomorrow's greatest converts to Christ and defenders of the faith? Acts 9 describes how God turned the persecuting Saul – also called Paul -- into the one of the world's best-known apostles of Christ. The story opens in the New International Version with Saul "still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem."
Nearly to Damascus, Saul was struck by a light from Heaven and a voice that said, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? … I am Jesuss, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do," Acts 9: 4-6 read.
Saul did – but discovered he was blind. And so he sstayed for three days, until God led him to Ananias for healing and to restore his sight, saying that "this man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kinds and to the people of Israel," Acts 9:15 read.
What if Maher were the next Paul? He could be. He's one of today's loudest critics of organized religion. He hails from a religious background with parents of the Catholic and Jewish faiths. He has as massive platform and is a huge media draw. And the fact that he spends so much time persecuting something that he doesn't even believe in speaks volumes: In the end, he must be struggling with his self-professed atheism. What a glory to God his conversion would be.
© 2014 Cheryl Chumley - All Rights Reserved
Cheryl K. Chumley is the author of "Police State USA: How Orwell's Nightmare Is Becoming Our Reality," and an award-winning journalist who currently writes for The Washington Times.