“Bill Maher: #Adulting,” the comedian’s latest special for HBO, pretty much wades through the same polluted waters he does on his late-night Friday show “Real Time” – trash talking Democrats while also condemning Republicans, picking on chubby people, insisting masks are useless during a pandemic and, this should come as no surprise to his loyal fans, finding a reason to not believe in God. And of course making some jokes he’s made several times before
Yes, “#Adulting” leaves us with a cornucopia of things to talk about, but let’s dive into religion, shall we?
After urging the Democratic party to stop “being the party of no common sense,” to start standing up “to the people who wake up offended and live on Twitter,” and end doing things and sounding like “a headline in The Onion,” Maher charged into another one of his favorite topics, cancel culture. And who better to point to than Abraham Lincoln and God? It’s Easter weekend, right?
“This about always revisiting the past historical people who don’t share your current woke mentality,” he said of cancel culture. “What a cheap way to look enlightened and big yourself up. Abraham Lincoln, isn’t good enough for you?”
Maher brought up an issue that began in 2015 when Black students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison called for the removal of a statue of President Lincoln that sat near its law school, an idea ultimately rejected because the idea of it was “too extreme.” That blew over quickly, but in 2020, the Black Student Union and the Student Inclusion Coalition supported the removal.
Yeah, Lincoln “said some racist thing,” Maher said, adding that “every white person in 1860 Columbus had slaves. So did everyone in 1492, who could afford it, including people of color in other parts of the world. … You know who else had slaves? Everyone in the Bible. Should we cancel God?”
“I’ve tried, really,” he added. “Both testaments have lots of rules and laws about slavery and none of them are ‘Don’t do it.’ That never crossed their mind. ‘Don’t do it.’ There’s a lot of laws like — a man kills your slave, you may kill his slave. OK? [It’s] not a defense of slavery.”
Maher’s point was to not look back in time and think you “would’ve known things were wrong at a time when nobody else thought that. Like, if you were living 500 years ago, you’d be like, ‘Uh, well, slavery’s wrong. And gay and trans people should be represented in all of Shakespeare’s plays.’ Shut up! You’re not better. You just came later.”
Although most think of Maher is an atheist (the belief that there is no God), he has referred to himself as an agnostic (one who neither believes in God nor denies His existence). His 2008 documentary film “Religulous” – derived from “religion” and “ridiculous” – challenges religion and those with religious faith. He says in it: “The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses, the world could actually come to an end. The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having in key decisions made by religious people.”
And he has never let up. In February 2021, he devoted his “New Rules” segment on “Real Time” to argue that it makes perfect sense that Christians are into QAnon.
“Of course, it is a mass delusion,” he said of QAnon’s wild conspiracy theories. “But the inconvenient truth here is that if you accord religious faith the kind of exalted respect we do here in America, you’ve already lost the argument that mass delusion is bad.”
He added, “When you are a QAnon fanatic, you’re also a fundamentalist Christian. They just go together like macaroni and cheese or chardonnay and Valium.”
Maher making the statement about canceling God is not a new one for him. But the fact that it was mentioned again in his special that premiered on Good Friday – one of the most sacred days in Christianity, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ – is not lost on many.
“Bill Maher: #Adulting” can currently be seen on HBO and streaming on HBO Max.