During last week's episode of "Real Time with Bill Maher," the irreverent comedian blasted GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney for donating money to the Mormon Church rather than to a more worthy charity. Instead of reining in his attacks on Romney and Mormonism, he sharpened his criticism during his New Rules segment in Friday's broadcast of HBO's political comedy show.
Maher brushed off the Internet firestorm that came from the right after last week's episode, saying that he's "really sorry if I called your horseshit bullshit." He once again emphasized that he believes Mormonism is a "cult," quipping that "I personally define a cult as any religion with fewer followers than Snooki has on Twitter." (For the record, the Church of Latter-Day Saints counts about 14 million members among its ranks, versus Snooki's 4 million Twitter followers.)
But he mostly took issue with the practice of tithing, which asks Mormons to give part of their earnings directly to the Church. Maher notes that when wealthy Mormons like Mitt Romney receive a tax deductible for their donation since it's considered charity, the loss is covered by other taxpayers. "Charitable donations reduce the public coffers by about $60 billion each year," Maher cited. "They take more out of our budget than enforcing the Buffet rule would put back in."
In particular, Maher hardly takes the Mormon Church seriously as an institution. "The way it works when you're a Mormon is you give 10% of your income to your local covent, or whatever it's called, they send it to Salt Lake City, where it's counted by goblins and guarded by dragons... I'm sorry, that's Harry Potter."
But he also has political problems with the church, claiming that if Mormons used their donations for apolitical, benevolent causes, the donations would be justified. Instead, they "spent millions here in California in a political battle to make sure the only gay person at a wedding is the priest who performs the ceremony," referring to Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage and was largely backed by the Church of Latter-Day Saints.
This week is hardly the first time Maher has singled out Mormonism for attack, even though he's an outspoken critic of all religions. Earlier this year, he "unbaptized" Romney's late father-in-law, a scientist who was posthumously baptized to be admitted to Heaven according to Mormon belief.
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