During the Friday episode of his weekly HBO show, progressive comedian Bill Maher blamed the deadly riot inside the U.S. Capitol on Christianity, conflating the belief in conspiracy theories like QAnon with those who have faith in Scripture.
“As long as we’re going to go to the trouble of another impeachment trial,” he told his audience, “we might as well be honest about what it’s really about: the events of Jan. 6 were a faith-based initiative.”
Maher explained that — in his view — those who support former President Donald Trump are part of “a Christian nationalist movement” of people who believe the real estate mogul “was literally sent from heaven to save them.”
He made his case by playing a clip of Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) claiming Trump was chosen by God to be president.
“There’s a lot of talk now in liberal corners about how Republicans should tell their base who still believe the election was rigged that they need to grow up and move on and stop asking the rest of us to respect their mass delusion,” he said. “And, of course, it is a mass delusion. But the inconvenient truth here is that, if you accord religious faith the kind of exalted respect we do here in America, you’ve already lost the argument that mass delusion is bad.”
“It’s fun to laugh at QAnon, with the baby-eating lizard people and the pedophile pizza parlors,” the HBO host continued. “But have you ever read the Book of [Revelation]? That’s the Bible. That’s your holy book, Christians.”
Maher then spent a few minutes making fun of the final book of the Bible, particularly the passages referring to Jesus’ second coming.
He went on to compare “magical religious thinking” to a virus, describing QAnon as “its current mutation.”
“That’s why megachurches play QAnon videos,” Maher claimed. “It’s the same basic plot: Q is a prophet, Trump is the messiah, there’s an apocalyptic event looming — ‘the storm’ — there’s a titanic struggle of good versus evil, and, if you want to win, just keep those checks coming in.”
Maher argued Christians have been more susceptible to joining what he called the “Trump mob” because of their religious faith. He claimed religious people who support Trump “have already made space in their heads for [expletive] that doesn’t make sense.”
“When you’re a QAnon fanatic,” he said, “you’re also a fundamentalist Christian. They just go together, like macaroni and cheese or Chardonnay and Valium.”
Maher showed images of protesters outside the Capitol who waved Christian flags, carried crosses, and held “Jesus saves” signs, describing the Jan. 6 event as “a revival meeting.” He also said it is “not a coincidence” the senators who objected to certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral votes — Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), among others — are “evangelical Christians.”
The comedian’s comments Friday come just a couple weeks after he told his audience not to confused the Capitol rioters with the vast majority of the 75 million people who voted for Trump.
“As bad as last week was,” he said in early January, “let’s not confuse 5,000 people with 74 million. Yes, even supporting the insurrection in spirit is, well, deplorable. But there’s a difference between holding illiberal beliefs and acting violently on them. At least that’s what they always told me about Islamic terrorism.”
“I’ve preached — and still do — that you can hate Trump but not all the people who like him,” he continued. “And, as counterintuitive as it may seem, you can like something run by [expletive] without being one yourself.”
Maher’s perspective seems to have changed a lot in just a matter of days.