Bill Maher

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Bill Maher in 2010, attending a ceremony to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. To be fair, he kinda looks like someone else.
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Smart people are very good at rationalising things they came to believe for non-smart reasons.
Michael Shermer (in reference to people just like Bill Maher)[1]

Bill Maher (1956–) is an outspoken, unapologetic, imperviously self-satisfied, and disgraced American comedian, actor,[2] and political commentator, best known for his Comedy Central/ABC show Politically Incorrect and his HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher. He is vocal on several topics to the point of absolute annoyance to many people, most notably his atheistic views and harsh criticisms of religion, particularly Islam (often misrepresenting and stereotyping Muslims) and occasionally Christianity (with legitimate criticisms but also often misrepresenting and stereotyping Christians), but rarely Judaism (often defending Israel's human rights abuses).

However, Maher's science record is mixed, mostly spotted by his spreading outlandish anti-GMO and anti-vaccine claims, although he is a fervent critic of global warming deniers.[3] Maher was described as "an object lesson in how one can be intelligent and anti-science at the same time."[4] Alternatively, Maher has been described as a lesson in how mediocre upper-class white men can fake their intelligence and still be believed.[5]

Like any good neoliberal, Maher is in favor of free speech unless said speech involves collaboratively refusing to purchase things, in which case he believes it's un-American.[6] Though he isn't a fan of the use of the First Amendment for collective action, Maher has repeatedly defended Rush Limbaugh's attacks on Sandra Fluke,[7][8] likely because of the events that led to the cancelation of Politically Incorrect.[9][10] However, Maher himself[11] and others[12][13] claim such comparisons constitute false equivalence.

On politics[edit]

Maher eschews political labels, referring to himself as "practical".[14] In the past, he has described himself as a libertarian, and has also referred to himself "as a progressive, as a sane person".[15][16] He has also referred to himself as a "9/11 liberal", noting that his formerly liberal view of the Muslim religion changed as a result of the attacks on September 11, 2001, and he differentiates himself from liberals of the opinion that all religions are alike.[17] Maher also has a proven track record of spouting bigoted bullshit, such as when he compared dogs to mentally disabled children.[18]

Social views[edit]

To his credit, Maher is a fierce advocate of both gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana. Recently, Maher has taken a hard stance on the gun control debate, stating his support for the assault weapons ban, background checks, and limiting magazine sizes; Maher has criticized the Second Amendment multiple times and suggests changing it, although he claims he is justified in owning a gun because he feels he must protect himself from the "gun nuts" of the country. Furthermore, he states that it is the duty of government to protect their people, including from firearms. However, Maher's extensive use of marijuana and contempt for American drug policies makes him certain that drugs are not something that people should be protected from, as he believes that people put even worse legal substances into their bodies daily. He's a member of NORML, an organization dedicated to furthering this view. In April of 2015, he went so far as to start a petition to make 4/20 a national holiday.[19]

Maher is an environmentalist and animal-lover, often harshly criticizing deniers of global warming on Real Time and serving as a board member of PETA (though he's completely in favor of zoos for some reason). He's also contemptuous of corporations, especially pharmaceutical and health-care industries, on the grounds that they make money by curing people of problems they create through the consumption of unhealthy foods. He has advocated the abolition of corporate welfare.

He has been strongly opposed to the Iraq War, seeing it as a failure and saying that America cannot control the sectarian violence now razing Iraq. He was the victim of a manufactroversy over remarks he made on Politically Incorrect right after 9/11. At times, Maher implied that Iraq was better off under the rule of Saddam Hussein and that America's invasion has increased the threat of terrorism. On the other hand, he has humorously referred to himself as being "pro-death" due to his support of abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty.

When Occupy Wall Street first began, he endorsed the movement, but eventually, he jumped on the anti-politics bandwagon and told the Occupiers to "get a job."[20] Of course, such a privileged sentiment makes one question whether Maher has ever worked a grill for minimum wage and minimum benefits before.[citation NOT needed]

Maher has expressed double standards about child sexual abuse. While condemning sex between male teachers and 13-year old girls and celebrating the downfall of Milo Yiannopoulos after his comments about pederasty between 13-year old boys and older men, he defended Mary Kay Letourneau and Debra Lafave — two teachers convicted of having sex with underage boys (ages 13 and 14) who were their students.[21][22] In a 2007 interview with Playboy, he openly professed a double standard on the matter.

He has been a transphobic bigot, claiming rising numbers of trans people coming out are in part because it's trendy, rather than because they're more likely to be taken seriously and less likely to be institutionalised or beaten. He called administering puberty blockers to children "literally experimenting on children".[23] He also made similar remarks suggesting the rise in gay and queer people is due to fashion rather than greater social acceptance, while simultaneously suggesting children and young adults are doing it to shock their parents.[23]

He also criticized "social justice warriors" because they still fight for affirmative action even though the polls are obviously against it.


Maher has attacked Palestine after the IDF slaughtered unarmed civilians, blaming them for "provoking Israel". After the recent move of the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Palestinians predictably protested the move. The IDF in turn shot them down, the figures numbering at least 58 unarmed civilians, including women and children. A guest on his show, New York Times op-ed columnist Bari Weiss, who in the past claimed that incels were the intellectual renegades of the dark web, said that the embassy move was not what caused these latest tensions. She said that the dead Palestinians were sent by their government to riot with the expectation that their sacrifice would make people feel sorry for them when the news hit.[note 1] Maher agreed with her, saying that Palestinians were bigoted for trying to control the international conversation through any means necessary, saying the US can't base its foreign policy around, "What is Mohammed Atta gonna do?"[note 2] Even if they were right that the Palestinian government sent their own civilians to be used as human shields for some garish publicity purposes, that doesn't excuse the IDF for mowing them down without a second thought.[24]

Comic controversy[edit]

Following the death and burial of beloved icon Stan Lee,Wikipedia Maher wrote a blog post attacking not just Stan Lee, but the comic book fandom as a whole, going so far as to suggest comic books helped dumb down America, caused Millennials to become irresponsible and self-pitying, and led to Donald Trump's presidency.[25] Suffice it to say, Millennial superhero fans did not take kindly to being stereotyped as a bunch of lazy, immature idiots whose pastimes are responsible for the rise of Trump.[26]

Political endorsements[edit]

  • In 1996, Maher endorsed Bob Dole on the basis of Dole's status as a war hero and being an old-style Republican and it probably being his last chance to vote for someone of the "greatest generation".
  • In 2000, he ultimately supported Ralph Nader for president, having previously promised his vote to Libertarian Party candidate Harry Browne.
  • In 2004, Maher was stalwart in his opinion that Bush should not be re-elected and that Kerry was the best candidate for president. He even went so far as to kneel down on his show Real Time and beg Nader publicly to drop out of the race (along with his guest at the time, Michael Moore).
  • In 2008, he showed deep support for Barack Obama's campaign while also being highly critical of John McCain. But the greatest amount of Maher's bile was directed at Sarah Palin before her $40,000 premature resignation as Governor of Alaska, whom he called a "Category-5 moron," a "bimbo" and unfit to even be mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. He viewed her as the ultimate example of theocracy, religious extremism, and blind faith. Maher was also very critical of Bristol Palin's pregnancy and engagement, calling it a loveless marriage and insinuating that Palin's baby Trig was really Bristol's first child.
  • As November 2012 approached, with the Republican Party swimming in crazy by stretching out to the likes of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum, making Mittens seem like an A+ candidate, Maher "endorsed" Obama once more, promising to donate a staggering $1 million to the President's SuperPAC, to illustrate the audacity and easy manipulation of Corporate personhood and unlimited SuperPAC campaign donations.
  • In 2016, he first stated his support of Bernie Sanders while insinuating that Hillary Clinton was a fine choice as well. When Hillary ultimately won the primaries, he endorsed her.
  • He expressed support for Dean Phillips's candidacy during the 2024 democratic primaries, even having Phillips as a guest on his show.[27]

As of 2016, Maher does not plan to run for public office himself.[28]

On medicine[edit]

I’m not into western medicine. That to me is a complete scare tactic. [...] The flu shot is the worst thing you can do [because] it's got mercury. [...] It doesn't prevent [the flu]. [...] [I]f you have a flu shot for more than five years in a row, there’s ten times the likelihood that you’ll get Alzheimer’s disease.[29]

Although Maher's criticisms of the pharmaceutical industries are sometimes legitimate, his views regarding vaccines are wrong and potentially dangerous. Maher has gone on record as a germ theory denialist, claiming that Pasteur recanted germ theory on his deathbed.[30] He says he's not against all vaccines but, at the same time, he believes that being vaccinated for any and all illnesses represents a slippery slope and could damage our natural immune systems.[31][32] You can't have both, Maher. On at least one occasion, his anti-vaccine stances were tracked back to[33] He has also recently endorsed anti-GMO propaganda.[34]

In 2009, during one of his Real Time shows, Maher felt he had to "clear up a few things that people have been writing about me that are not true" and went on record to say "I’m not a germ theory denier."[35] This has caused a great amount of confusion for the media. One can conclude that although Bill Maher may claim not to be a germ theory denier and may have some legitimate concerns about the corporate corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, his views on medicine are in contrast with mainstream medicine and his perspective on vaccines may be harmful. In later shows, he stated, during an appearance with former senator (and doctor) Bill Frist, that vaccination is 'not a settled science'.[36]

In early 2015, after a long respite from anti-vaccine rhetoric, Maher dove into the issue again in a series of incidents, claiming the flu shot is "bullshit" and nothing but a scam by "big pharma", justifying his vaccine denial by claiming medical science is (somehow) not as reliable as climate science (which he completely agrees with), and inviting none other than Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (a noted anti-vaxxer) on his show.[37]

In 2016, he outdid himself yet again by inviting Samir Chachoua, who claimed to be able to cure HIV with the milk of arthritic goats, on his show. To add insult to injury, he ended his "New Rules" segment of that episode bemoaning how the internet has allowed misinformation to spread easily.[38]

Maher was joking when he said he has a court-appointed psychiatrist.[39] Please reassure us! He must have been joking.

On religion[edit]

Maher's militant opposition to religion is probably what he is most famous for: he calls it a kind of neurological disorder that keeps people from thinking; a detriment to the world in general. He has spoken about his anti-religious views at almost every possible opportunity, making an entire movie devoted to ridiculing several religions (the film was directed by Larry Charles, the same man who directed Borat). Maher has taken many shots at religion for what he sees as its hypocritical nature and its purportedly giving people permission to do terrible things in the name of morality. He is a vocal critic of the Religious Right, mocking especially their preaching on the "immorality" of abortion and homosexuality.

While critical of all organized religions, and holding that "they're all stupid and dangerous", Maher says all religions are not alike, and has drawn comparisons and contrasts between them.[40][41] He has declared that, "[b]y any standard, Mormonism is more ridiculous than any other religion".[42] He has referred to tenets of Judaism as "insane" and "funny", and has said Buddhism "includes crazy whack shit that doesn’t exist, that somebody made up, like reincarnation."[43]

He has described Christianity and Islam as more "warlike", and has asserted that, like historic Christianity, present-day Islam needs to undergo its own reformation and enlightenment.[44] In defense of his criticism of Islam, Sharia law, and Muslim culture, Maher says he is "...someone who believes in the values that Western people believe in that a lot of the Muslim world does not. Like separation of church and state. Like equality of the sexes. Like respect for minorities, free elections, free speech, freedom to gather. These things are not just different from cultures that don’t have them...It’s better...I would like to keep those values here."[45]

Citing studies and poll results by Pew Research Center, the World Economic Forum, and others, Maher claims the human rights violations and "illiberal ideas" he finds in Islam are not extremist views merely held by a small minority, but are supported by a majority of citizens in Muslim countries. This ignores that the same polls he cites claim that many people in Muslim countries are either middle ground in their support of illiberal ideas (Bangladesh) or hardly support it at all (Albania, Indonesia) and that the results vary from country to country (i.e. that certain countries like Pakistan have a lot of support for illiberal views while other countries like Indonesia, Albania, Kosovo, and Tunisia are either more diverse in their opinions or don't support illiberal ideas).[46] He also tried to justify the racist campaign Netanyahu pushed in 2015 and is seen as giving a pass to Judaism.[47] On the less "critical" and more "smearing" end, Maher has also described Islam as uniquely similar to the Mafia,[48] saying it "will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture, or write the wrong book".

Maher slams liberals as hypocritical for defending these core liberal values and ideals only at home, while not condemning the oppression of these values and groups in Muslim culture.[44][49] This view has generated controversy, but Maher insists, "I’m just shining a light on the reality of the situation. I don’t even understand why this is so controversial."[44] This would be more legitimate if he didn't willingly ignore the polls he cites when they disagreed with him (for instance, he claims the fact that most of the people in Egypt support the death penalty for apostasy is proof that most Muslims hold those views… even though the actual poll states that most of the 20 countries polled either had a majority opposed to it, or were somewhat more evenly split on the matter).[50] At times, he has been specifically criticized for being anti-Catholic due to his repeated references to Pope Benedict XVI's being an ex-member of the Hitler Youth, the Catholic sex abuse scandals, and for drawing parallels between Catholicism and pedophilic cults.[citation needed] But then again, calling someone anti-Catholic is just not as much fun as calling someone an Islamophobe.

In Religulous[edit]

His end speech from his movie Religulous reads as follows:[51]

It seems peaceful. But thisWikipedia is the very spot where a lot of Christians believe life on Earth will end. The irony of religion is that — because of its power to divert man to destructive causes — the world actually could 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 key decisions made by religious people — by irrationalists. By those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn't learn a lot about it.

Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it, are intellectual slaveholders — keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction.

Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says I'm willing, Lord! I'll do whatever you want me to do! — except that since there are no Gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people, with their own corruptions and agendas.

And anyone who tells you they know — they just know! — what happens when you die? I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be — considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong.

This is why rational people — anti-religionists — must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price.

If you belonged to a political party, or a social club, that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence and sheer ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler — a mafia wife — for the true devils of extremism, that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers.

If the world does come to an end — here, or wherever — or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of a religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let's remember what the real problem was: that we learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That's it. Grow up, or die.


Religious people don't need to be ethical, because religion is mostly about salvation. It's about closing your eyes, very tightly, and believing in someone so much, without question, that when you die he will save your ass. Religion is about saving your ass. And that ain't ethical. There's a million reasons I could give you as to why a religious person is less moral than an ethicist, but here's just one. Religious people think that animals don't have a soul - we're so sure people do - so it's okay to torture and kill and do anything you want to animals because there's some bullshit in the Bible about how we have dominion over them and they don't have a soul. For that reason alone I dislike religion.
Jesus is great — is there a better role model? No. It's religion, it's the people who get in between — the bureaucracy, you know. ... It's the way people abuse Jesus. Was there ever a greater victim of name dropping?
If you have a few hundred followers, and you let some of them molest children, they call you a cult leader. If you have a billion, they call you Pope.
Couldn't we just get together and agree on the few basic Commandments that are laws? Like 'I won't slaughter you, and don't take my shit.'
Republicans are always saying we should privatize things like schools, prisons, social security -- hey, how about we privatize privacy! Because if the government forbids gay men from tying the knot, what is their alternative? They can't all marry Liza Minnelli.
If you think Democrats are going to take away your Bible, you're an idiot. If you think they are going to take away your gun, you're an armed idiot. If you think they're going to take away your gun and give it to a Mexican to kill your God, you're Bill O'Reilly.
How do we know Bush wasn't behind September 11th? Because it worked. AND, it involved: PLANNING.

External links[edit]


  1. "Look what you made me do!"
  2. Mohamed Atta is the name of one of the 9/11 hijackers, not the leader of Palestine. Cute, Bill. Atta also was Egyptian, not Palestinian, and there's no record of him having so much as set foot in either Israel or Palestine.


  1. Penn & Teller: Bullshit! - "The Bible - Fact or Fiction?" (S02E06)
  2. See the Wikipedia article on Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death.
  3. Bill Maher destroys a global warming denier's hypocrisy with one question?
  4. "After five years, Bill Maher lets his antivaccine freak flag fly again",
  5. Damon Young, "America's Love Affair With Immoral And Mediocre-Ass White Men Will Be Its Downfall."
  6. Bill Maher doesn’t like Laura Ingraham. He hates the boycott of her show even more.
  7. Maher defends Rush
  8. Maher defends Rush again
  9. Maher calls Sarah Palin a cunt
  10. Maher calls Palin and Bachmann bimbos
  11. Bill Maher defends Limbaugh's Free Speech Rights, Responds to False Equivalency From Right
  12. Bill Maher is not the liberal equivalent of Rush Limbaugh
  13. Jimmy Dore Comedy: Bill Maher
  14. Martel, Frances (July 11, 2011). "Bill Maher To Piers Morgan: I Hope Sarah Palin And Michele Bachmann 'Split the MILF Vote'". Mediaite. Retrieved November 7, 2011. 
  15. Rutenberg, Jim. (October 8, 2001.) "Bill Maher still secure in ABC slot, at least now". The New York Times.
  16. "Maher slams 2012 GOP presidential field (video)". CNN. July 16, 2010. 
  17. Dyess-Nugent, Phil; Kaiser, Rowan; O'Neal, Sean; Sims, David (September 11, 2013) "Never forgot: 9 entertainers who were changed by 9/11". The A.V. Club.
  18. "TV host word's draw criticism and apology"
  19. Petition - U.S. Congress: Make 4/20 a National Holiday
  20. "Bill Maher: Occupy Protesters Are 'Douchebags' Who Need To 'Get A Job'"
  21. Bill Maher, who took credit for the downfall of Milo Yiannopoulos, has also defended adult sex with children by Travis M. Andrews (February 24 at 6:10 AM) The Washington Post.
  22. Bill Maher condoned sex between 35-year-old woman, 12-year-old boy
  23. 23.0 23.1 Bill Maher thinks US is ‘literally experimenting on children’ and ‘everyone will be gay by 2054’, Pink News, May 21, 2022
  24. Bill Maher and Bari Weiss Cruelly Blame Palestinians for Gaza Massacre The Daily Beast, Marlow Stern, May 19th, 2018, 2:30 AM
  25. "Adulting", Bill Maher
  26. Stan Lee fans slam Maher for dissing comics
  27. Could Bill Maher’s Endorsement Win Someone an Election?
  28. Bill Maher: I Won’t Run for Public Office Because Being an Atheist is the “Ultimate Deal Breaker”
  29. CNN transcript of 2005 interview between Larry King and Bill Maher
  30. Bill Maher Says vaccines don't prevent disease As though Pasteur's recantation, had it even happened, would trump the fact that the science has since been tested, and applied.
  31. Larry King Live interview
  32. Pharyngula article
  33. "Oh come on, Superman!" Bill Maher versus "Western medicine"
  34. Bill Maher Takes On Horse Meat Scandal, Slams California Vote Against GMO Label Prop (Video)
  35. Bill Maher's Meltdown Turns Off Guests, Confuses Audience
  36. “Oh, come on, Superman!” (Part II): Bill Maher meets Kryptonite over vaccines and “Western medicine”
  37. Real Time with Bill Maher: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (HBO)
  38. When antivaccine pseudoscience isn't enough, Bill Maher fawns over Charlie Sheen's HIV quack
  39. Bill Maher’s Hilarious Reason Rally Speech is Finally Online
  40. Bill Maher on Paris massacre: ‘There are no great religions — they’re all stupid and dangerous’; Raw Story; January 8, 2015
  41. Schwarwtz, Ian (September 23, 2012). "Bill Maher On Islam: 'All Religions Are Not Alike'". RealClearPolitics.
  42. Walker, Joseph (January 8, 2012). "Group lists Top Ten Anti-Mormon Statements of 2011". Deseret News. 
  43. Berrin, Danielle (November 29, 2012). "Bill Maher on Israel, uncut and uncensored". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 Kohn, Sally (December 2014). "Petition All You Want, Bill Maher Will Speak at Berkeley". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  45. "Bill Maher Stands By Mohammed Remarks: ‘I Don’t Need To Apologize For Being A Proud Westerner’". November 1, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2011. 
  46. Muslim Beliefs About Sharia|Pew Research Center
  47. No, Bill Maher, Netanyahu's campaign was indeed racist
  48. A history of the Bill Maher's 'not bigoted' remarks on Islam
  49. Sasson, Eric (9 October 2014). "Yes, Bill Maher Is Boorish. But We Shouldn't Be Afraid to Criticize Islam". New Republic. Retrieved 3 May 2015. 
  50. Muslim Beliefs About Sharia|Pew Research Center
  51. Religulous - The Final Message