Bill Maher Defends Christian Right, Calls Comparing Islam to Christianity 'Just Plain Wrong'

( [email protected] ) Sep 12, 2014 03:25 PM EDT
Bill Maher
Bill Maher spoke with PBS talk show host Charlie Rose on Wednesday

Progressive comedian Bill Maher recently defended Christianity to Charlie Rose on his PBS show earlier this week after the host repeatedly attempted to link the religion to Islam.

Maher, who is a self-proclaimed atheist and the host of Real Time on HBO, began by criticizing former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean for attempting to separate Islamic extremists such as ISIS from "moderate" Muslims.

"I saw Howard Dean on TV the other day and he said something along the order, he said the people in ISIS -- he said I'm about as Islamic as they are, you know, distancing the vast numbers of Islamic people around the world from them. That's just not true," Maher told Rose, arguing that there is a "connecting tissue" in the "illiberal beliefs" held by "vast numbers of Muslim people."

"It's true," responded Rose.

"It's not true," Maher shot back.

"Vast numbers of Christians do not believe that if you leave the Christian religion you should be killed for it," he continued. "Vast numbers of Christians do not treat women as second class citizens. Vast numbers of not believe if you draw a picture of Jesus Christ you should get killed for it. So yes, does ISIS do Khmer Rouge-like activities where they just kill people indiscriminately who aren't just like them? Yes. And would most Muslim people in the world do that or condone that? No. But most Muslim people in the world do condone violence just for what you think."

When Rose asked Maher how he knows that "vast majorities of Muslims" actually "condone violence, Maher responded, "[Muslims]...shout it...There was a Pew poll in Egypt done a few years ago -- 82% said, I think, stoning is the appropriate punishment for adultery. Over 80% thought death was the appropriate punishment for leaving the Muslim religion. I'm sure you know these things."

He continued: "So to claim that this religion is like other religions is just naive and plain wrong. It is not like other religions."

Maher's comments come on the heels of President Barack Obama's assertions Wednesday night that the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) "is not Islamic."

"No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim," Obama said. "ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way."

Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin slammed the President's claims, however, arguing that in order to effectively defeat ISIS, the U.S. must recognize that in the terrorists' eyes, they are doing the work their faith commands.

"You must acknowledge reality: the organization calling itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is, in fact, 'Islamic,' she wrote.

"Not many of us pretend to be experts on the Muslim religion, but these terrorists obviously consider themselves Muslim and they believe what they're horrifically doing to innocents is part of their 'religion of peace.'"