Last week, Bill Maher made some statements on his HBO show, Real Time, that had the "War on Christianity" crowd up in arms.
While most of these people will find any statement regarding religion from Bill Maher to be offensive, when he stated that God was a "psychotic mass murderer" for creating humans and subsequently flooding the world -- killing nearly every man, woman, and child on the planet, in an attempt to start over -- to many, this crossed a line.
Never wanting to let a possible controversy go to waste, the good folks in the conservative media found a way to turn this criticism into a full-blown attack. While the opinions of celebrities are typically frowned upon by conservatives, noted Christian actor Kevin Sorbo happened to be out to promote his new film called God's Not Dead. When asked about the comments made by Bill Maher, Sorbo described him as a "very angry and lonely man."
This follows a religious meme that has been building for years where Christians in the U.S. are being persecuted for their beliefs. Given that nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population identifies themselves as Christian it seems this oppression is probably more myth than fact but the problem is, for most of these people, this is the first time they've experienced any systemic form of discrimination. Many of them have never experienced the inequality of the justice system. They are not stopped on the street and asked to prove they are US citizens. They've never been denied service for being who they are.
The biggest affront they face is walking into a store in December and being greeted with "Happy Holidays." For them, racism is mere fiction (unless it is minorities being racist), but religious intolerance is rampant plague ruining the country.
If you actually watched the piece by Bill Maher, you would see that his beef is not with religion per se but with the denial of science and adherence to the impossible for religious purposes. Asking someone to recognize that the Bible is not meant to be taken literally and used as a science book is a far cry from the "hate" that some have ascribed to Maher.
Having said that, if a Christian uses the Bible in an attempt to convert non-believers, it's often referred to as "spreading the word of God" and thought of as a holy mission. Bill Maher is simply using the Bible in an attempt to convert believers. Being passionate about this endeavor and putting his faith in science instead of religion doesn't make him angry or hateful.
While Bill Maher is being demonized for his attempts to change viewers minds no one seems at all concerned that after Kevin Sorbo's condemnation of Bill he continued to proselytize for Christianity.
Unfortunately, rather than discuss the virtues of Christianity, Sorbo took the low road of fear mongering to convince viewers of the need for more Christianity in the U.S., stating that "morals are declining, the country is going under." Like the denial of science this conclusion, that the U.S. has lost its moral compass, almost never includes any empirical evidence.
What data are Kevin Sorbo looking at to make such a bold declaration? What time period was the peak of morality? When slavery ended? When interracial marriage was deemed legal? After releasing Japanese Americans from Internment Camps?
Are crime rates a proxy for morals? If so the rates of violent crime, simple assault, aggravated assault, rape, property crime and robbery have all dropped steadily for the past two decades.
Does the abortion rate correlate to morality? If so the number of abortions recently hit a 30-year low.
Is teen pregnancy and indicator of the country's moral standing? If so teen pregnancy is down 42 percent since 1990.
How about the number of marriages that end in divorce each year? Does more divorce mean lower morals? If so in 2009 we hit a 40-year low in the divorce rate.
Perhaps Kevin Sorbo is referring to is the Biblical sin of gluttony when talking about declining morals. If that is the case the share of income going to the top 1 percent is at or near record highs.
The reality is that religious convictions and how people choose to observe them is a deeply personal matter that even most atheist respect the sanctity of. The validity of Bible-based hyperbole used to counter science and data however is fair game for debate.
If you don't like what Bill Maher has to say about the Bible, the answer is simple -- shut him up by using science to prove him wrong. Otherwise accept that his "intolerance" of your views is only matched by your intolerance of his.