Bill Maher reaches peak Bill Maher

In this week’s monologue, Maher managed to take the first crack at Bruce Jenner’s coming out as a transgender woman.“A lot of women in the news this week,” says Maher, transitioning from his previous joke. “Another wom.. OH! Bruce Jenner!”At this point, the audience erupts because to Maher’s audience, apparently transgender people are inherently funny.“The big interview is on tonight,” Maher goes on. “Please, no spoilers. I TiVo’ed it, which is ironic, because sometimes my TiVo also c … [Read more...]

Interfaith literacy: A chat with Omar Sarwar on Islam & atheism, pt 1

Back in November, Omar Sarwar, who is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, wrote a piece for Huffington Post that thoroughly debunked some of Bill Maher and Sam Harris' go-to talking points about Islam. After he showed up to engage our readers in discussion about his piece, we figured that Sarwar had a lot more to contribute to this conversation.We asked him a few questions about himself, about his academic work, and about his views on the relationship between Muslims and … [Read more...]

Omar Sarwar mythbusts Maher & Harris

Yesterday on Huffington Post, religion historian Omar Sarwar thoroughly debunked two of Bill Maher and Sam Harris' go-to Islam talking points.While the HuffPo title emphasizes Maher, the "facts" of both myths are actually pushed most forcefully by Harris. However, that may be besides the point since the points are made during Maher's show, where Harris serves as the comedian's scholarly sidekick.  I'll post a short portion of it here, but you really should take the time to go and read the who … [Read more...]

Chis Stedman and Reza Aslan on experiences shared by Atheists and Muslims

In light of the recent controversy between Sam Harris and Ben Affleck on Bill Maher’s “Real Time” and the backlash that followed, Muslim academic, Reza Aslan and Humanist leader Chris Stedman[1. Full disclosure: Chris Stedman is the founder of NonProphet Status.] call for a more civil discussion between atheists and Muslims. They explain that atheists and Muslims may have more in common that one might think: “According to a Pew poll conducted this year, Muslims and atheists are the two least fav … [Read more...]

Maher debate continues in The New York Times

For the last few weeks, we've been covering the controversial criticism of Islam expressed across several episodes of Bill Maher's Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO.Two weeks ago, Maher criticized the Yale Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics[1. I was the president of this group while I was an undergraduate.] for siding, "in the name of multiculturalism" with people who "hold down women and violate them," because they co-signed a letter along with 30 other organizations criticizing an in … [Read more...]

Vox on islamophobia: It’s not just Maher

Max Fisher at Vox has a long and refreshing look at Islamophobia in the media. He lays out the fundamental problem: Because 38 percent of Americans say they personally know someone who is Muslim, most of us rely on the media to shape our opinions of Muslims and of Islam. And the media is badly failing in its responsibilities to portray Muslims carefully and accurately. It has forgotten Bush's entreaty [to embrace Muslim Americans and Islam with respect], leaving Americans more ignorant about a … [Read more...]

Islam isn’t a race, and so what?

"It's gross, it's racist, it's nasty." This is how Ben Affleck recently described Bill Maher and Sam Harris's attitudes toward Islam on last weekend's Real Time with Bill Maher.We've argued a few times before that certain views on Islam can be bigoted, and in fact resemble many other forms of bigotry. What seems most controversial, though, is the suggestion that islamophobic views might be racist. When Richard Dawkins was accused of racism last year after the following comment on tw … [Read more...]

Islamophobia, Sam Harris, and the prevalence of Islamic Extremism

Let’s assume, as an illustration, that it's the year before the Civil War. Half of the Christians in the United States believe that their religion permits owning slaves, and the other half believes that their religion opposes owning slaves.What if we found out that the half that supported slavery was almost entirely in the bottom half of the nation, and the half that disapproves of slavery is almost entirely the top half? And let’s suppose that the top half's economy is industrial while the b … [Read more...]

Reza Aslan responds to Bill Maher: Genital mutilation is not an Islamic problem

On the September 29th edition of CNN Tonight, Reza Aslan provides a measured and patient reply to a recent segment that aired on Bill Maher's show this past Friday. A Muslim scholar of religions with four degrees---a B.A in religion from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Iowa’s Writers Workshop, and a PhD in Sociology from University of California Santa Barbara---Aslan is an Associate Prof … [Read more...]

Tell Bill Maher About a Mohamed

Today's guest post, by my friend Frank Fredericks (Co-Founder of Religious Freedom USA and Founder of World Faith), calls out Bill Maher for his recent narrow-minded comments on Islam. All the more, it's a call to action -- and one I plan on participating in. Take it away, Frank!Last Friday on Bill Maher's show on HBO, he had an epiphany that should trouble many of us. After discovering that the various spellings of Mohamed together comprised the most popular name for baby boys in the United … [Read more...]