If you missed Bill Maher’s comments on the Pope’s visit to the United States, you will have to do some research on You Tube to find it. While the media was all over Don Imus’ comments that described the Rutger’s women’s basketball team with insulting language (and which eventually led to his being fired), the media has given Bill Maher a pass for his comments. What did he say about the Pope?
He compared the Catholic Church and the polygamist cult in Texas by saying, “Cults get raided; religions get parades. 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.”
Of course, if you have a strong enough stomach and have heard Bill Maher before, you know that he is an enemy of religion and people of faith, so his comments should come as no surprise. What is surprising is the reaction of the media to his comments, which has been no reaction. Can you imagine what would have happened if Bill had spoken with such disrespect towards a Muslim leader or towards a Jewish leader or to the leader of the NAACP? He would have been removed from the air immediately. But HBO doesn’t seem to mind funding his tirades as long as they are against the Christian community.
USA Today, instead of commenting on Bill Maher’s comments, chose to highlight the problems that Muslim leaders are having with the visit of the Pope. The first paragraph in the article “US Muslim Leaders Conflicted Over Pope’s Visit” says, “Unease with Pope Benedict XVI’s approach to Islam has led a U.S. Muslim group to decline joining in an interfaith event with him later this week.” The article left me with the impression that if the Pope would just adjust his message and make it a little more Muslim friendly then we could proceed with finding “ways to cooperate on important matters concerning the earth, including climate change, reducing disease, reducing poverty, increasing respect.” That’s where our focus should be.
In many ways, we are rapidly joining our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe that are being persecuted for the faith. Visit Release International, the voice of the persecuted church, to find out more about how Christians are being persecuted around the globe. In America, our persecution is quite light. In a few centuries, the Christian community has moved from being highly respected to being highly suspect, and we are rapidly moving to a place where we will be persecuted for holding to the basic gospel message. We can take courage in the words of Hebrews 12.4, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood.” But the days may be coming when we will live into the words of the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5.11-12).
It seems to me that very soon we can rejoice and be glad in America, too.