Bill Maher, host of the HBO political talk show "Real Time with Bill Maher," has caused a stir among some Christian circles after comments he made recently on his show.
In last Friday's episode, which is also running throughout this week, the host made negative comments against the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, followed by an attack on Catholicism.
Some groups, such as the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, are putting pressure on Time Warner, the parent company of HBO, to now fire Maher, much like NBC did with the shock jock Don Imus over racist remarks.
"We are writing to the 14 members who sit on the board of directors of Time Warner," expressed Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, "asking each of them whether Maher's gratuitous and highly offensive attack on Jesus Christ merits the same punishment afforded Imus for his racist remark."
In Maher's recent commentary on religion, the talk show host first began by making negative references to Falwell and to his strong Christian activism within American politics over his lifetime.
"Death isn't always sad," he said, smirking. "This week the Rev. Jerry Falwell died and millions of Americans asked 'Why?' 'Why God? Why didn't You take Pat Robertson with him?'
"Now," he added later, "I know that you're not supposed to speak ill of the dead but I think we can make an exception because speaking ill of the dead was kind of Jerry Falwell's hobby."
After slamming Falwell for his past remarks on homosexuality and feminism and for "launder[ing]" his personal hate "through the cover's of God's will," Maher went on to criticize religion as a whole, notably the Catholic faith.
"And it's easy to start a religion! Watch as I do it for you," said the political host during the program. "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."
He then went on to describe a scenario with two "gay priests" who were having relations in a car and making sexual innuendos to a police officer who walked upon the scene.
"Time Warner's Standards of Business Conduct, revised last month by the board of directors, includes the following principle: 'While our content may sometimes engender controversy, we want no one to question our character,'" added Donohue. "We know Maher lacks character. What the public needs to know is whether Time Warner's board has any."
Maher has been known to disagree with Christians, and has had much religious satire in the past. On the May 11 episode of the show, for instance, it featured a comic skit entitled the "Acu-Rath Weather Forecast," where the host plays a Christian weatherman showing where God will judge the earth.
The show has also been known to have very liberal content, moving from two cable networks, ABC and Comedy Central, before finding its permanent home on HBO so that it could be free from censorship.
The show airs on Friday nights with two seasons of approximately twelve shows each.