(To be fair, both sides are pretty much on the same page, believing that atheists are going to Hell unless they repent, that Jesus died for all of us, and that even the Godless are capable of doing great things.)
Still, Maher said he believed that, like Obama, the Pope must secretly be an atheist, which led to this soundbyte:
“I remember when I was making Religulous,” Maher said, “we talked to a lot of priests, and we found out that a lot of priests really aren’t believers. They do it because — now, some of them do it for the sex. But there’s a lot of good ones, they do it because it’s a way to help people. They know they can’t tell the masses that it’s all a crock, but they themselves don’t believe it.”
“Pope Frank,” Maher said, “he’s a sophisticated guy from that era, and — I’m telling you, I think the Pope’s an atheist.”
Personally, I’d say the Pope is just doing anything he can to fix some of the damage the Church has inflicted on the world over the past couple of decades, he knows he has the ultimate pulpit with which to do it, and he’s taking advantage of that while he can. If that means speaking up for the poor or speaking positively about atheists, so be it. Let’s hope he eventually tackles the social issues and sex abuse scandals, too.
It won’t be the last time he says something the rest of the Vatican doesn’t like.
Maher also brought up Rebecca Vitsmun‘s exchange with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer — a conversation that closed with playwright Paul Rudnick asking “And who made the tornado?”