Comedian Bill Maher likened conservative media personality Glenn Beck to the founder of the Church of Scientology Sunday.
“I think he’s doing what some people before him have done, like — L Ron Hubbard was a novelist and decided, ‘You know what? It’s a much easier gig to be a religious leader,'” Maher, the host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, said.
“And tax exempt,” Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s GPS, quipped.
“Tax exempt, and you already have people — I mean, there’s a reason they call them the flock,” Maher added, ‘”because they are the sheep and they’ll believe anything.”
Zakaria brought up Beck’s religiosity to Maher in the context of Beck’s rally, which the CNN host described as “being mostly about religion.”
“I think Glenn Beck is segue-ing from what he was, which was mostly a political preacher, to a preacher-preacher,” Maher, the star of the film “Religulous,” said. “It is an easier gig and you make more money — Jim Bakker kind of money.”
Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally took place at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visionary ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
Rev. King, who received the Nobel Peace Prize for using nonviolent civil disobedience to help end racial segregation in the US, was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, while supporting the unionized black sanitation workers on strike for higher wages and better conditions.
Beck has been criticized by MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann before for using religious-based symbols and mannerisms to sell precious metals through Goldline International.
“Pat and I both went home and prayed,” Beck went on portentously in April. “We both opened our Bibles, and we found something the next day that I think is important for you today to understand. He found one thing. He found the first piece, I found the second piece. The message was the same, but I think the message is for you today.”
But instead of actually revealing his message from God, Beck glanced to one side and quickly switched gears, saying, “I’ll give that to you in one second. First I have to break for our sponsor, Goldline.”
“That’s the plan!” Olbermann laughed. “Buy more gold over the Internet. Hallelujah! We’re saved!”
Beck has also attacked progressive religious activists, such as Dan Nejfelt, a communications associate with advocacy group Faith in Public Life, for running Christian radio ads quoting scripture as a way of encouraging believers to stop paying attention to the right-wing Fox News personality.
“Not only are you wrong, the vast majority of people of faith know that you’re wrong,” Nejfelt said, lobbing his words directly at Beck in an exclusive interview with RAW STORY. “We’re going to keep doing what God tells us to do. We’d appreciate it if you’d stop doing what you’re doing.”
With reporting by David Edwards, Muriel Kane, and Stephen C. Webster.
This video is from CNN’s GPS, broadcast on Dec. 5, 2010.