Catholic League president challenges Bill Maher to fight
David Edwards and Nick Juliano
Published: Thursday January 31, 2008 |
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In what could be seen as an effort to resurrect its sister network's Celebrity Boxing franchise to boost lagging ratings, Fox News aired an interview Thursday with the controversial Catholic League president, William Donahue, who took offense to comments questioning religion from comedian, and prominent athiest, Bill Maher.

That Maher deigned to question the divinity of Jesus Christ -- saying he was more skeptical of Christian mythology than that UFOs regularly visit earth -- sent Donahue into an apoplectic rage. The 60-year-old Donahue challenged his longtime nemesis Maher to a fist-fight. Fox News host Megyn Kelly offered to televise the fight right there on Americas' Newsroom.

"Bill Maher ... constantly is going after not just religion in general, he really has it out against Christians," Donahue charged. "I'm at the point right now where I'd love to challenge this guy in a ring ... preferably Madison Square Garden. I'm a lot older than he is, but let me tell you something, I'd floor him."

On Real Time with Bill Maher, which airs Friday nights on HBO, the host and his guests were discussing recent UFO sightings in Texas when Maher made the following observation.

"I think it is much more likely that there could be space ships from outer space, than what a lot of things people believe. People still believe, you know, excuse me I know I may inject religion into every show but UFO’s are a lot more likely than a space god flew down bodily and you know who was the Son of God and you know had sex with a Palestinian woman."

Maher's program airs at 11 p.m. Friday, his viewers pay a premium fee to receive HBO, and the comedian has never been shy about his view that religion is essentially a farce, so it's unlikely any regular viewers were all that offended. That didn't stop Donahue from attempting to stir up some outrage by issuing a press release which slammed Maher as "America's number one bigot."

Donahue has made Maher one of his favorite targets for verbal vitriol, and Thursday's challenge apparently marked his blood boiling over. Indeed, the Catholic League president alluded to his deep yearning to battle the HBO host just three weeks ago.

“Unlike most non-believers, who are generally content to respect the right of most Americans to believe in God, guys like Maher want a brawl," Donahue said Jan. 7. "He should be careful what he wishes for because there are those who pine to deliver.”

Whether the fight will happen -- and the possibility of Paula Jones and Tonya Harding returning to the ring as an undercard -- remains to be seen.

This video is from Fox's America's Newsroom, broadcast January 31, 2008.