Bill Maher: Atheism is ‘the New Gay Marriage’

Why won’t comedian Bill Maher be running for Congress anytime soon?

Because he thinks his atheism will get in the way.

In an interview with Hollywood site TheWrap, Maher chatted with host Sharon Waxman about the lack of representation of atheists in politics — and how it doesn’t quite match up with the rising number of atheists in the country. He told her that while the percentage of atheists in America is approaching 15%, “we have zero representation.” As a person who’s pretty public about his atheism, he should know:

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Pope Francis Excommunicates Priest for Supporting Women, LGBT People

All this talk of a progressive new Pope may have been jumping the gun.

Writing for the National Catholic Reporter, Brian Roewe reported this week that Pope Francis has excommunicated an Australian priest from the Church for his liberal values and activism. Fr. Greg Reynolds publicly supports LGBT rights, marriage equality and women’s ordination, three big no-nos in Catholic tradition. (We reported on Reynolds’ dismissal from the church the other day, but at the time, Pope Francis’ role wasn’t exactly clear.)

Here’s the Vatican’s “explanation” behind its decision, according to NCR:

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Catholic College Cancels Pro-Marriage Equality Lecture Because It’s ‘Fundamentally Immoral’

In a story broken by Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times, a highly-anticipated lecture by a gay speaker at a Roman Catholic college was suddenly canceled this weekend because it doesn’t align with the school’s “fundamental moral principles.”

Dr. John Corvino, chairman of the philosophy department at Wayne State University, has spoken on same-sex marriage at more than 10 Catholic colleges in the country and is a frequent commentator on LGBT issues in religious contexts. He was scheduled to speak at Providence College in Rhode Island this Thursday, an event co-sponsored by nine school departments and programs.

But on Saturday, the college’s provost, Hugh F. Lena, announced that the talk was canceled because “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”

In his e-mail announcing the cancellation, Hugh F. Lena, the provost and senior vice president of Providence College, cited a document produced by the American bishops in 2004, “Catholics in Political Life,” to support the decision. And he said that college policy “dictates that that both sides of a controversial issue are to be presented fairly and equally.”

Presenting both sides fairly and equally, eh? That’s not what this explanation seems to say. A portion of the cancellation announcement reads:

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‘Religious Liberty’ Bill Would Legalize Discrimination, Protect Anti-Gay Federal Officials

LGBT activists are up in arms — and rightfully so — after the introduction of a bill that would provide a legal loophole for anti-gay discrimination.

Idaho Republican Raul Labrador proposed a bill to the House of Representatives this week that serves no other purpose but to protect federal officials who seek to discriminate against LGBT people, particularly same-sex couples. It’s called the “Marriage and Religious Freedom Act,” and it was inspired by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a key provision of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act. Apparently, Labrador and others identified an “immediate need” to advocate for religious groups who believe they were deeply wronged by DOMA’s partial repeal.

After the court’s decision, “there were a lot of ideas about what to do,” Labrador said. “Some people looked at overturning it, or doing a constitutional amendment. I looked at the immediate need, which is the protection of religious institutions and churches, so that they can continue practicing their religion as they see fit.”

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Pope Francis: The Church Has No Right to ‘Interfere Spiritually’ With LGBT People

Building a reputation as the most LGBT-friendly Pope in history, Pope Francis said in an interview published today that the Church should not interfere spiritually with LGBT people, nor seek to cause them any harm.

According to CNN’s highlights of the interview, published in several languages and 16 countries:

“Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.”

Francis said that someone once asked him if he “approved” of homosexuality.

“I replied with another question,” he said. “‘Tell me, when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being.”

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