Real Time host and aggressive non-theist Bill Maher grilled a progressive minister on Friday over the litany of contradictions he found between the written word of the Bible and how many people actually interpret its teachings.
“It’s pro-slavery, pro-polygamy, it’s homophobic,” Maher told Rev. Jim Wallis. “God in the Old Testament is a psychotic mass murderer. I mean, there’s so many things in it, and I always say to my religious friends, ‘You know, if a pool had even one turd in it, would you jump in?'”
Wallis responded by offering to show Maher a Bible he had with all the verses about the poor cut out of it.
“There are 2,000 verses about the poor,” he explained, before Maher accused him of not answering the question.
“I’m saying, what about those parts that are bad?” Maher insisted.
“Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr.] read that same bible,” Wallis countered. “He invoked it in the movement to overcome discrimination.”
“Keep not answering my question,” Maher repeated.
“Jesus didn’t talk about homosexuality at all,” Wallis continued. “The Bible talked about the poor again and again and again. So I’m saying, those of us who root our faith in the Bible are those of us who care about just what the Bible talks about.”
Maher also found himself flustered after asking Wallis if he was afraid of Christianity being hit by a wave of questions similar to the ones Mormon leaders are facing following an investigation by a Swedish church leader, telling panelist Eliot Spitzer, “This guy’s an even better politician than you” while pointing at Wallis.
“You’re picking out all the stuff about religion that’s bad,” Wallis responded. “I have fought that stuff most of my life. Most of my life I’ve been fighting the fundamentalism in Christianity, Islam, Judaism. Fundamentalism is bad. But faith without works is dead in the Bible.”
“Fundamentalism is just people reading what’s there and taking it literally,” Maher shot back, a notion Wallis with which Wallis took issue.
“I would like people to take the Bible literally when it says ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,'” said Wallis, who also mentioned he was part of an evangelical group that urged Republican lawmakers to embrace immigration reform.
“What about when it says, ‘If you see your neighbor working on Sunday, kill him,’?” Maher asked. “What about that? Should we take that literally?”
“Jesus said no,” Wallis answered. “Don’t pay attention to that. What Jesus said was, ‘You treat the poor the way you treat me.'”
Watch the discussion, posted on YouTube by user “CoffeeAndNews32” on Friday, below.