Comedian Bill Maher - who currently hosts the "Real Time with Bill Maher" show on HBO - has come under heavy attack from angry American Catholics in general and some politicians in particular after he embarked on
an offensive rant about Pope Benedict's visit to America during his show the previous week. Among other things, Maher linked the Pope to the Nazi and called him the head of "a child-abusing religious cult" - which of course caused a huge controversy in view of the Pope's historic visit to the States. In a letter to HBO President Sue Naegle, six Republican representatives stated that Maher had "crossed the line of decency" and demanded a public apology from the comedian.
Maher is well-known for his acid political satire. He also happens to be an outspoken critic of religion, and support the legalization of cannabis and gay marriage - which, of course, doesn't make him very popular with strict Catholics. "On behalf of the millions of Catholics in the United States and throughout the world, we are appalled by Mr. Maher's statements," reads the lawmakers' statement. "We are also disappointed in HBO for failing to denounce Mr. Maher's ranting and to ignore the fact that his hurtful words offended Catholics in the United States and across the world. In a word, Mr. Maher's commentary was vulgar", came the conclusion.
Last Friday, Maher came up with a series of insulting remarks regarding Pope Benedict's imminent visit to the States. "Whenever a cult leader sets himself up as God's infallible wing man here on Earth, lock away the kids", he laughed. "I'd like to tip off law enforcement to an even larger child-abusing religious cult," Maher said. "Its leader also has a compound, and this guy not only operates outside the bounds of the law, but he used to be a Nazi and he wears funny hats". Although HBO officials refused to make any official comments, Catholic League President Bill Donohue reported that he was contacted by an HBO executive who allegedly assured him the comedian is planning to issue a full apology during his live show tonight. Stay tuned for more news on this controversy.