The Catholic League is mad as hell and they aren't going to take it anymore. Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time", has apparently made one too many jabs at the expense of Catholics, particularly priests, and the League has decided it's time for it to stop.
Ever since Pope Benedict announced he was resigning, Maher has found plenty of fodder for material. He told Catholics during his "New Rules" section of the February 15 episode of "Real Time", "If the Pope can quit, it’s okay for you to quit too." He then went on to discuss the resignation saying, "Now…as you all know, this week, Pope Benedict told Vatican Radio... he was going to resign because the Church needs a fresh, young face, somewhere other than a priest’s lap."
It's jokes like that which have continuously angered members of the Catholic League. In a letter to Glenn A. Britt, Chairman and CEO of Time Warner Cable, League president Bill Donohue demands that someone have "a serious talk" with Maher.
Donohue's letter reads in part:
There is no other entertainer in the nation who has repeatedly spoken about the Catholic Church, especially its priests, in more vile and obscene terms than Bill Maher. Vicious beyond belief, his remarks would be condemned – indeed he would be fired – if directed at any other demographic group. Over and over again he libels [sic] priests, portraying all of them as sexual abusers. And he does so with impunity.
The letter was accompanied by another document entitled "Bill Maher's History of Anti-Catholicism, 1998-2013". The report quotes 39 instances of Maher making jokes critical of Catholicism, priests, the pope and religion in general, from his "Politically Incorrect" days up through his most recent episode of "Real Time":
What other business could you be in where your company gets caught running a child sex ring since forever and you still keep your customers?
Maher, a self-described agnostic who was raised Catholic, has made his anti-religious views one of the motifs of his comedy and political commentary over the years. He sits on the advisory board for Project Reason, a "nonprofit foundation devoted to spreading scientific knowledge and secular values in society." In his 2008 film "Religulous", he took a mocking look at all faiths, ultimately calling for more religious skepticism.
Nevertheless, Donohue maintains that Catholicism has been unduly singled out by Maher to a degree that demands Time Warner Cable's attention. The letter continues:
Catholics need to know just how far Time Warner is prepared to play the role of spectator. Does stewardship not count at all? HBO has been contacted many times, but nothing changes.... The time has come for someone in a position of responsibility to sit down and have a serious talk with this man.
Founded in 1973, the Catholic League is "the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization", seeking to defend "the right of Catholics – lay and clergy alike – to participate in American public life without defamation or discrimination."
However, Donohue's letter may be incorrectly addressed, as Time Warner Cable split off from Time Warner (HBO's parent company) in 2009. So Britt, who is speculated to step down from the cable company at the end of this year anyway, has no authority over Maher, anyway.
You can read the League's full list of Maher's "Anti-Catholic" jokes here.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Glenn A. Britt as the CEO of Time Warner, not Time Warner Cable, and the distinction between the two companies was not clear. The story has been updated to reflect Britt's proper role.