Christian Coalition founder Ralph Reed appeared on Bill Maher's HBO show "Real Time," and was asked by the atheist host to respond to questions on the Bible, including why Jesus needed to come and make some corrections to the Old Testament about laws such as stoning of adulterous women to death.
Maher, who had apparently called Reed to talk about his new book, Awakening: How America Can Turn from Moral and Economic Destruction Back to Greatness, thanked Reed for his "courage" to come on the show, saying most people of faith do not want to be seen with him.
"Why is faith a good thing?" Maher asked.
"Speaking for myself, faith gives me a sense of purpose, it gives me a moral compass, it's a relationship, it's not a set of rules," Reed said, adding that some misunderstand that believers do not think for themselves. "I do think critically, I study things ... When you feel that your eternal destiny is resolved, you have a peace and a comfort and a freedom and a liberty to do the right thing and not care what other people think of you."
But there is a long list of bad things for which religion has been responsible, Maher responded, citing wars, crusades and terrorism.
Reed drew the host's attention to homeless shelters and charities, but Maher asked, "But you can do those things without believing in magic."
Maher also mentioned a new Gallup poll which shows that 28 percent of Americans believe the Bible is literally true and should be taken as the literal truth. "Are you one of those," Maher asked Reed, who said, "Yes."
Maher said the Bible condones things like slavery. But the anti-slavery movement came out of churches, Reed said.
What about the adulterous woman who was to be stoned to death, Maher asked.
"What did Jesus say when he was presented with the adulteress and the people who wanted to stone her to death cited that verse?" Reed responded. "He got down on his knees and he wrote in the dirt, 'We believe the sins of all those present,' and he said, 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.'"
"If the Bible's a perfect book written by a perfect guy, why is this in there?" Maher asked. "Why did Jesus need to come along to correct his dad? I don't get it."
"Because humankind is fallen, and is sinful," Reed replied. "And we all fall short of the glory of God. Four-hundred years after the Abrahamic covenant, the law was presented."
"But I'm asking you about the Bible," Maher said. "People think that the Bible should be literally taken [as] true. And these are the literal words in the Bible from God."
"But Bill, you're ignoring the New Testament," Reed responded. "Not one of those verses occurs in the New Testament. You're ignoring the new covenant."
"So the Old Testament - the Jew God - he's bad," Maher commented. "I didn't say that," Reed said. "Bill, Jesus was a Jew."
"If it's perfect, all of it should be perfect!" Maher stated.
Reed pointed out to the host that he was being "very selective," and clarified that Christianity is not about rules and regulations. "You're not going to get to heaven by observing do's and don'ts and rules," Reed said. "You're going to get to heaven by a personal relationship with God through His Son."