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On last week’s edition of Real Time, Bill
Maher argued during the panel discussion that Mitt
Romney should be giving money to an actual charity rather than just the
standard tithe to the Mormon church. Maher’s comments were immediately picked up
by the conservative blogosphere, and in his final New Rule tonight, Maher
defended what he said by arguing that while the Mormon church does good works,
unlike most charities, it is not their main focus.
Bill Maher Slams Mitt Romney, Links Mormons To Racism
Maher first clarified his comment that Mormonism is a cult by explaining he
meant to say “his ridiculous church.” He admitted that there is no real
distinction between a cult and a religion, but he argued that as opposed to
Catholics who are very upfront about their beliefs, Mormons tend to be more
“secretive” about their faith. And that sounds cultlike to Maher, at least.
But then Maher pivoted to make a more serious point about Romney’s donations
to the church are not the same thing as charity.
“When Mitt Romney gets a deduction for giving to charity, the rest of us
taxpayers have to cover the loss. Charitable deductions reduce the public
coffers by about 60 billion dollars a year… So it is fair to ask what should
constitute a charity.”
Maher made it clear that he would have no quarrel with Romney if he gave the
same amount of his income to the Red Cross or similar charities. But he reminded
viewers that the Mormon church has spent a lot of money not on charitable
causes, but on advocacy for issues like California’s Proposition 8.
However, despite whatever other agendas the Mormon church may harbor, the
institution does use a fraction of its money for charitable causes. Maher said
he understands this point, but it’s still not good enough to qualify as an
excuse for counting donations to the church as charity.
“They provide food during famines and wheelchairs to the lame. But that’s not
their main concern. Which is, like any business, growing the business, opening
branches, selling more product, putting asses in tabernacles. General Electric
plants a tree every now and then, it doesn’t make them Johnny
Bill Maher: All Religions Are ‘Magic Tricks’ But Mormonism Is ‘Novelty Shop’
But lest you think Maher was only targeting religion in his New Rule, he made
a point of telling viewers that donating to the arts also does not qualify as
charitable giving. He brought up the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles,
and how people who give to it get tax deductions for their charitable giving. He
argued that this, too, does not qualify as a charity, because “unlike food and
water, access to Mozart is not a basic human necessity.”
Watch the video below, courtesy of HBO:
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