Bill Maher: C'mon, Obama's obviously an atheist

It’s been awhile since we’ve had a palate cleanser and … this is sort of cleansing, I guess? Skip to 3:00 for the key bit. I’m tempted to say it proves Gary Oldman’s point that Maher and Jon Stewart get away with stuff that would give the left a collective outrage-aneurysm if it came from anyone else, but eh. Not really. We already know from Obama’s gay marriage “evolution” that he’s willing to lie, repeatedly and in major public forums, about his morals in the name of getting elected. He’s a stereotypical ivory-tower liberal; of course he’s always supported gay marriage, and lefties knew it. If Maher wants to go one step further and draw a conclusion about O’s religious beliefs from that same stereotype, they’re in no position to get huffy now. I’m not even sure Oldman’s right that being a comedian is what earns Maher his license to say things that would draw liberal ire otherwise. He’s not joking here, after all. There’s no way to spin this as some over-the-top exaggeration in service to a gag. I think he gets a pass (most of the time) because he’s consistently willing to be vicious to the right, such that when he screws up occasionally and says something “outrageous” about the left, they’re inclined to give him a break to keep him in the game. Being a comedian is just the fig leaf by which that break is given.

Anyway, two things. One: Maher’s not the first to speculate that Obama joined Rev. Wright’s church for political, not religious, reasons. Look no further than Wright himself for that:

In speaking about Barack and Michelle Obama, their longtime pastor, the Rev. Jermiah Wright said, “Church is not their thing. It never was their thing.”…

Wright continues, “ … [S]o the church was not an integral part of their lives before they got married, after they got married.”

Klein says, “But the church was an integral part of his politics?”

Wright says, “Yeah.”

O wanted to get into politics but may have feared, not without reason, that his black “authenticity” would be challenged at some point. It was, in fact, challenged later when he ran against former Black Panther Bobby Rush in a House primary, as he was savaged by opponents for being “not from the ‘hood” and a “white man in blackface.” Joining Trinity may have been his way to build racial and religious credibility among an important constituency. Whether that personal ambition justifies smiling through a “God damn America” sermon or two or 20, I leave for you to judge. (Hint: It doesn’t.)

Two: I’m not sure where Maher’s getting the idea that atheists are America’s largest minority. As a member of the non-tribe I have every reason to back him up on that except that, as far as I can tell, it’s simply untrue. It may be true that religious “unaffiliateds” are America’s largest minority, but just because you’re unaffiliated doesn’t mean you don’t believe in God. In fact, according to Pew’s survey in 2012, 68 percent of unaffiliateds say they believe. The true atheist minority is … a bit smaller:


There’s a big, big minority of Americans who don’t associate with any particular faith, but if you’re a politician looking to get elected in a country that’s 77 percent Christian, why would you want to identify with a group like that?