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Atheist Bill Maher Asks Catholic Rick Santorum: 'How Am I on the Pope's Side and You're Not?'

Atheist Bill Maher Asks Catholic Rick Santorum: 'How Am I on the Pope's Side and You're Not?'

GOP candidate Rick Santorum (L) and HBO host Bill Maher talking on "Real Time" on Aug. 28, 2015. | (Photo: HBO video screencap)

HBO host Bill Maher challenged GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum in an interview on his show on Friday to explain why Maher, as an atheist, backs Pope Francis in his stance on climate change, and why Santorum, as a Roman Catholic, does not.

"What I want to ask is, I mean, I'm not a Catholic, I'm an atheist," Maher said. "But I like the pope better than you do. You're saying the pope should stick to what he knows, and I find that ridiculous."

In June, Pope Francis released the 184-page "Laudato Si,'" or "Praise Be to You" encyclical," which tackled the way man-made climate change affects the world, such as the damage it inflicts on the poorest populations.

"The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; He never forsakes His loving plan or repents of having created us," Francis wrote.

"Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world's poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded."

While the encyclical was received favorably by the U.N., as well as by scientists who agree on man-made climate change, Santorum suggested that the pontiff should "leave the science to the scientists" and focus more on religion.

Santorum answered Maher's question by insisting that he does love the pope, and suggested that through his climate change speeches Francis is trying to "break down some barriers" and open up a conversation on the topic with people who might disagree with him on other issues.

Santorum and Maher brought up various surveys and disagreed with each other over how much scientists in general blame man-made climate change for harmful effects on the planet.

The GOP candidate accused President Barack Obama of destroying the manufacturing industry and costing Americans jobs by imposing big limits on emissions. Maher in turn offered that manufacturing is being destroyed "because rich people send jobs overseas."

Maher has pressed Santorum to explain his opposition to Francis' climate change stance for a number of months now, and back in February on his "Real Time" show said that "we've got the pope on board," concerning climate change action.

Santorum said in January following Obama's State of the Union address that it is yet to be proven whether man really is having a significant impact on climate change.

"And number two, and this is even more important than the first, is there anything we can do about it? And the answer is, is there anything the United States can do about it? Clearly, no. Even folks who accept all of the science by the alarmists on the other side, recognize that everything that's being considered by the United States will have almost — well, not almost, will have zero impact on it given what's going on in the rest of the world," the former Pennsylvania senator added.

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