Bill Maher and Ben Affleck Have Intense Debate over Islam: ‘The Only Religion That Acts Like The Mafia’ (Video)

bill-maher-islam-1I know it’s not exactly the most popular stance to take, but I agree with much of what Bill Maher has said recently about liberals and their hypocrisy when it comes to criticizing Islam. It’s like I’ve said before, I can criticize Christianity – or organized religion in general – and I’ll hardly hear any objections from liberals. But if I ever dare to share my opinion on Islam, that’s often when the hate emails start flowing. Many liberals get heated very quickly.

Which is exactly what happened Friday night when Bill Maher, Ben Affleck and Sam Harris got into a fairly heated debate about how liberals often view and discuss issues related to Islam.

The video of the segment is just over 10 minutes long, but it’s well worth the time to watch. From start to finish, it’s an interesting back and forth debate.

Though I will say Ben Affleck, in my opinion, came off like an immature jackass who was unable to control himself. His body language, gestures and the way he more or less rejected anything he heard with which he disagreed came off childish. Even if much of what was being said was being done so by someone who knows much more about Islam than he does (Harris). He continually cut people off, went off on ridiculous (and sometimes incoherent) rants where he seemed more concerned about being outraged rather than having a rational discussion on the issue.

And where I think Affleck, and people who might agree with him, seem to be missing the point is that in the broad scheme of Islam we’re not just talking about the radicals like ISIS or al Qaeda. In fact, that’s not really what Maher was talking about either. Though they’re clearly part of any discussion about Islam.

It’s like Harris said, if you remove the percentage of Muslims who support these terrorist groups (because these groups don’t represent the majority of the Muslim religion), Islam still has a huge problem when it comes to every day Muslims who oppose basic rights for women and homosexuals. Which are two groups of people liberals are often defending here in the United States.

Sure, it’s easy to slam Christian conservatives for being bigots, sexists and racists. But let’s not pretend as if Islam, even outside of the radical fringes who often make the headlines, doesn’t have an issue when it comes to equality, equal rights and basic human rights overall.

Take for instance this chart that shows every country around the world and how their laws treat same-sex couples. There’s a clear pattern when you get to Eastern and Northern Africa, the Middle East and parts of Southeast Asia. In nearly every country located in these areas, homosexual couples could either face imprisonment or the death penalty for their relationship. And what do those countries almost all have in common? They’re mostly populated by people who follow Islam.

But it’s not just gay rights. Women in many Muslim countries struggle to even enjoy some basic human rights. Such as in Saudi Arabia where they’re not even allowed to drive or Yemen where women are seen as “half a witness.” Meaning that a woman’s testimony in court isn’t taken seriously unless it’s backed by a male.

But a point that was mentioned during this segment that I feel is important to emphasize is that there’s a difference between being a bigot, simply hating any and all Muslims (which some people do), and objectively criticizing parts of the religion (like any other religion that treats certain demographics of people unfairly).

Though these discussions often turn out just like I witnessed last night during this debate where even the calm Harris, who was not trying to be bigoted or confrontational at all, was unable to make this point because Affleck was having no part of it. Affleck’s reactions were very similar to what I’ve seen from other liberals who’ve jumped on things I’ve said for criticizing certain aspects of Islam as I would any other religion.

The point I believe Maher was trying to make, and Harris was supporting, is that the issues with Islam shouldn’t just lie in the percentage of Muslims who support radical terrorism. Because while those are the stories that make the headlines, groups like ISIS represent a fraction of the 1.5 billion Muslims around the world. And while I fully believe it’s unfair to say something ignorant like “all Muslims are terrorists,” I see absolutely no problem criticizing Islam (or any other religion) for its unjust treatment of any group of people. Though many liberals do seem to have a problem with it. Just like we saw last night with Affleck.

But, as liberals who claim to be the defenders for gay rights, women’s rights and human rights in general, we can’t simply turn the other cheek when it comes to objectively criticizing the non-radicals who follow Islam. Millions of Muslims who aren’t Islamic extremists, or associated with any kind of terrorism at all, are still people who treat women, homosexuals and other groups with which they disagree like second-class citizens.

And true equality for every human should be something liberals, conservatives, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, men, women and people from all races, backgrounds and ethnicities should support. And anyone, or group, who opposes that should never be shielded from criticism for doing so.

Watch the segment below via HBO:

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • allinfun

    “Religion is the cause of the problems, it is not the solution to them”

    • Larry Ham

      True, the only real path to human rights and happiness is thru the elimination of religion, like they did in China, Cuba, Soviet Union, Vietnam, Korea.

      They solved a lot of problems.

      • Nemisis

        There are plenty of religions in in all of the countries you’ve listed. Not one of those countries do not have a religion, and in fact they have multiple religions.

        I assume you think there are none is due to communism.
        Which generally institutes state atheism.
        Which is not the same as no religion.
        Which does solve a lot of problems.

      • Larry Ham

        Interesting, I remember Cuba and Soviet Union pretty much outlawing religion…and I wouldn’t say there is “Plenty of religion in all those countries.”

        And how is instituting state atheism not the same as no religion? Are you saying atheism is a religion? I know a lot of atheists who would disagree with that.

        Looking at all western democracies I’d have to say the best approach is for everyone to do whatever the hell they damn well please with regards to belief…you know, like the Founding Fathers mandated.

      • gian keys LOVES shemale porn

        agreeing with larry ( abit) here and I will add this question to larry:
        should ANY religion/religious belief/ superstition/VOODOO etc be a part of the USA’s legislation and subsequent laws?
        ( example: making it illegal or near impossible to get an abortion….forcing any “prayer” in schools or public forums…..making HOILDAYS based upon VOODOO — Christmas/ easter/ etc)
        freedom OF religion does not mean one supplants /usurps all others– they either share EQUALITY or they are not visible publicly

      • TeeDee

        Atheism is a religion like “off” is a tv channel. Just believing something doesn’t equate to religion. I believe ketchup is made with tomatoes; that’s not a religious belief.

      • gian keys LOVES shemale porn

        they tell me what EXACTLY makes a RELIGION.
        many definitions: allow me to edify here–
        1- a cause/ principle or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
        2-a particular variety of such belief , especially when organized into a system of doctrine and/or practice
        3- an activity ( cause/principle) pursued with with zeal and conscientious devotion
        4- an interest which is important to an individual or group
        now,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, U were telling me something about a television? the tomato channel?

      • Larry Ham

        Answer is yes, any religion can have holidays, even voodoo. But you can’t restrict other people’s rights because of religious beliefs so things like abortion have to remain legal.

      • gian keys LOVES shemale porn

        sounds like we agree ,,,,,,,,,,,,
        how about religion(s) who pay legislators to have THAT religions views made a law which screws other people?

      • Larry Ham

        That’s a problem with all special interest groups, like unions and corporations. They pay politicians to vote a certain way and it’s thinly veiled bribery. I’m with you on that and it should be curtailed.

        BTW, why shemale porn??? Maybe I’m old fashioned but I like chicks with the more traditional parts.

      • gian keys LOVES shemale porn

        excellent inquiry larry! GIAN KEYS is a crybaby regressive “conservative” who I have destroyed on blogs in the past– I had a basketball buddy in LA who is a Private investigator ( for 24 yrs) look him up and found out quite a bit– I now use this username ( and his photo) to express my adoration to his pathetic ass,,,, Im with you : and here is one for you: look up MARILYN LANGE and see the finest woman EVER to walk upon this planet-!!!

      • spooledup

        Human rights in Cuba, or any of those countries you mention? Are you kidding me? Go live there and see what rights you have compared to the US.

        Just like a hypocritical liberal to try and eliminate something they don’t believe in and that can never be eliminated.

        You’re very intolerant.

      • Larry Ham

        Easy spool, that was sarcasm, I was making the same exact point you’re making.

      • TeeDee

        It’s a good thing you’re an agnostic and not a Christian or Jew, because your comment about “hypocritical liberals” is a pretty good sign that you do not follow one of the commands of the Bible: “Pray for your [governmental] leaders…”
        I highly doubt that you pray for President Obama as all Christians and Jews are commanded to.

      • allinfun

        name a war that hasn’t been fought in the name of religion. Christians kill people in the name of religion(Crusades, Ku Klux Klan), Muslims kill people in the name of religion (ISIL, ISIS, whatever, terrorism in the Middle East), Jewish people kill people in the name of religion(Palestinians). Sounds to me like religion is the cause of the problems, not the solution to them. Your ‘real path to human rights and happiness’ doesn’t sound like something I want any part of if it involves religion.

      • Doonerbandit

        World War I, World War II, Germany’s persecution of the Jews was based on ethnicity more than religion and the Nazi’s plans for ethnic Slavs proves that, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Soviet war in Afghanistan all of these wars were fought over political ideologies. Now Atheist’s will quote leaders using religion as a justification for these wars but it doesn’t mean it’s true. It is, sadly, in our nature to find a reason fight and kill over something.

      • Larry Ham

        A war not fought in the name of religion? OK, how about WWI, WWII, Vietnam, Korea, Civil War, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Spanish American War…and that’s just this country.

        And the wars you list, like all others, are fought over real estate not religion. Do you really think this fighting would end if everyone converted to Islam? Please tell me you’re not that dumb.

        Try reading something not written by liberals once in a while so you can know what you’re talking about.

      • Dennis Manning

        Seriously, do you live in a vacuum? No problems in any of those countries, RIGHT! Get off the weed Larry!

      • Larry Ham

        It was sarcasm Dennis, my point was that countries which eliminate religion are far worse than countries that let people believe what they want.

    • spooledup

      This country was founded on Judeo Christian values like morality, which must be present in a civilized society with human rights.

      Don’t like it? Leave.

      And no, I’m agnostic.

      • C Monroe

        no our country was founded on enlightment ideals, like all men are created equal(except other races) and have certain rights. It was formed during the age of enlightment where there was a rise of intellectuals who liked to use reason and look at things different than how the church seen things. Do not fall for the religious right retelling history, read the writings of the founders Adams, Jefferson, Payne and others.

      • John Cross

        LOL, Spooledup is not going to even begin to understand what you arev talking about. As soon as you mentioned books she went to sleep.

      • gian keys LOVES shemale porn

        that is presumtive

      • Joe

        Morality is not an exclusive product nor dependent on religion or belief in a higher beings. And the country was not founded on religious beliefs.

      • xnerd

        This country was founded BY PEOPLE, SOME of which were Christians and SOME of which were Jews, based on the strict adherence to the principle that these teachings will in no way shape or form enter into the governance of our political system.

        The Christians involved in the forging of this nations revered documents, may or may not have used their own moral compass which was shaped by their monotheistic teachings, but did so with the complete understanding that those beliefs need to be kept separate from the legislative process at all costs.

        People need to remember why our founding fathers separated from the crown. The Church of England was an all powerful, oppressive entity for a very long time. It was judge jury and executioner, and corrupt to the core.

        Our bill of rights and constitution, is based MORE on that premise than anything else. Our founders wanted to insure that no one organization or class could over ride the will of the people. (like it has today).

        The right wing nutjobs like to twist the wording of the constitution to include words that are not there such as the word “the” and “A” in the first amendment.

        (make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof)

        It is not (make no law respecting THE establishment of A religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,”

        Which would be necessary for one to believe that the founders were talking about an official state religion.

        The founders only mistake was to think that we as a people would maintain a level of intelligence great enough to understand our own language and the subtle nuances that are oh so important.

        Stop trying to revise history, its insulting.

      • allinfun

        If you are foolish enough to think that you cannot be a moral and ethical person without being a religious person, then perhaps you should finish high school or mature a little bit. Also, consider this: This country was founded by people who wrote the Constitution (which separates church from state)…NOT by the people who wrote the bible. If you want a government based on religion, perhaps you should join the Taliban and move to the Middle East. That’s the way it works over there….not here.

    • gian keys LOVES shemale porn

      100% correct———
      allow me to encapsulate:
      ” G O D,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,yes!!!”
      “……………….. religion??? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO”

  • Bill Maher, despite some positive traits, is an Israel-Firster. Othodox religionists of his own group are just as sexist and authoritarian as any others.

    • Larry Ham

      Really? You think orthodox religionists are just as sexist and authoritarian? Please cite examples when these orthodox religionists stoned women to death for adultery, or denied them education and the ability to drive a car. Tell us how they kill women for shaming their families by being the victims of rape. Tell us how they don’t even allow women to walk in public without their male owners.

      This oughta be good.

      • John Cross

        LOL, they cannot do it because the Government does not ALLOW them to do it. Believe me, there are plenty of Jewish and Christian “radicals” who believe in the same things. After all, it’s in the Bible. Women are inferior to Men in every single instance. Why does Christ choose only male apostles? Was that simply random?

      • gian keys LOVES shemale porn

        better yet———-
        have the religious smarmy “Christians” explain why in the so-called ’10 commandments” using “gods” name in vain is a MORTAL sin………………..
        but rape isnt mentioned
        im still waiting 4 the Christians to cure an amputee

      • Larry Ham

        Really? So how many of these Jewish and Christian “radicals” have stoned women to death or beheaded them?

        Face it, you’re just another left wing bigot who hates Christians, which is fine, you have a First Amendment right to be a hateful bigot and I hope you spout off more often during election season. But don’t sit there like some empty-headed hollywood type (like Affleck) pretending that Muslims are even comparable to other religious people. There’s no comparison.

      • DarthYan

        now you’re full of shit. Chriistian and jewish fundies are only not doing it since they don’t have law protection. Otherwise they would

  • Shelley Jones Beek

    I haven’the liked this conversation of Maher’s. When he has given his statistics of vast percentages of Muslims believing things – adultery and apostasy deserve stoning – he is not talking about Muslims in America or Europe. He is mixing up culture and religion. These are beliefs expressed in very poor and repressed cultures with very little education available or freedom to express themselves. There are very few Christian countries in similar circumstances these days. A few African Christian majority countries are very similar human rights wise as their Islamic counterparts. Poverty is the real enemy. Not religion.

    • dcl3500

      “These are beliefs expressed in very poor and repressed cultures with very little education …”

      Which is where the majority of the muslim populations live.

      • Shelley Jones Beek

        Yes. That is my point. Poverty and lack of education result in the intolerant viewpoints; they are not inherent in the religion. That seems to be Maher’s argument – the excesses we see in some Muslims today are inherent in the religion, not their circumstances. His rhetoric isn’t helpful; denouncing a religion isn’t shining a spotlight on changing the poverty in these countries.

      • dcl3500

        I don’t think fixing their poverty issues are going to help. Education might, it is helping here in the states at eroding away at religion in general.

      • Cronous

        Poverty and lack of education result in the intolerant viewpoints

        How does that explain such intolerant viewpoints in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, etc. There are plenty of liberal countries that are much poorer: Brazil, South Africa, etc.

      • DarthYan

        part of it is tribal nonsense bled into religions. Also, in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait many of the lower classes ARE poor.

      • TeeDee

        Their religion tells them to “kill all the infidels;” that is their main purpose in life with regards to their religion, to kill anyone who does not accept Allah and become a Muslim.

    • C Monroe

      Uh his 76% number of BRITISH muslims who thought that the Danish cartoonist should have been severely punish.

      • DarthYan

        many muslims are also loyal to great bri

  • steveorevo

    The problem appears that the list of “many Muslim countries” is Yemen and Saudi Arabia. No mention of Pakistan. But regardless, mistaking either for Turkey (which has more woman government officials than any Christian country) or Indonesia (which has equality for woman) or Malaysia as “radical” is the definition of bigotry. You can’t cite a handful of countries and say stupid things nor accuse many of the mix Christian/Islamic countries in Africa that are equally responsible for terror against woman and single it out as an Islamic thing. Especially when you are the speaker for a country that is very close allies with those very “many Muslim countries”: Yemen and Saudi Arabia (not to mention speaking from a country that actively exports homosexual hatred to Africa). Forget being a bigot, you just kinda come off as an ass more than anything else.

    • Stakex .

      You can get 20 years in jail for being gay in Malaysia…. I’d call that pretty radical. Whats funny is that you say “you can’t cite a handful of countries and….” yet, that’s exactly what you did. You hand picked a couple very moderate Muslim countries to argue the Islamic world actually doesn’t have a problem with human rights… and again, its illegal to be gay in one of your “moderate” countries.

      I mean come on, you can be executed for homosexuality in Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Sudan, Mauritania, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Somalia, and Yemen. Militants in Iraq also routinely kill those believed to be gay, even though the law in Iraq does not bad homosexuality. Its also considered a crime punishable by jail time, but not death, in Egypt, Pakistan, Tunisia, The Gambia, Uzbekistan and several other African countries with majority Muslim populations. Its not just a “few countries”, but rather that vast majority of the Muslim world. Much the same is true about the rights of women. A majority of Muslim countries are very repressive to the rights of women, as just a little bit of research would show you.

      That’s not even getting into the fact that poll after poll shows vast majorities of Muslims hold many of the same views as the extreme fringe…. such as believing death if the appropriate punishment for leaving the religion, or simply drawing a picture of Muhammad. Its not about hating Muslims, its about fair criticism of beliefs held by large segments, often times a vast majority, of Muslims.

      • Joel Smith

        It wasn’t all that long ago that it was illegal to be gay here in the U.S.
        Don’t get me wrong. I agree that there is an issue with human rights in countries that are ruled according to Islam, but it is the holier than though attitude that is the problem. Truth is, many of the bigotries embraced by Islam are embraced by all other major religions.
        The answer is education and enlightenment across the board. Not bashing one particular religion or another. In other words, all religions need to be bashed equally.

      • Steve Weinstein

        As a gay man, I can confidently say that i would much rather have lived as such in the US in the ’50s than in any Middle Eastern Muslim country excepting Lebanon & Turkey now. Add Indonesia, Brunei. Of course, the African Christian countries aren’t so great — but most (not all; e.g., Uganda) have substantial Muslim populations.

        Basically, when it comes to homosexuality, Muslims are about where Christians were 500 years ago.

  • anne

    the real jihad is the rate of natural increase among Muslims. By 2050 London and Paris will be 90%Muslim unless we stop all immigration NOW. They come here and spit in our faces, demand that we change our ways. The only hope is the awakening of national movements like the party of Marine le Pen in France. After the rape wave Norwegians have already started deporting them in 2013. We should all follow suit

    • DarthYan

      uh one muslim pops are declining not rising, secondly according to norwegian stats most rapes are actually carried out by WHITE men

  • David Wolf

    I’m with Ben Affleck!! Maher was out of line and racist.

    • anka


    • Steve Weinstein

      For starters, Islam isn’t any more a “race” than Judaism or Mormonism.

  • Joshua Sajec

    I just want to have some sandwiches also.

  • John Cross

    The issue with Islam is not in the belief system. In that sense Islam is no worse than Christianity or Judaism, and in many cases is far better. The problem is that Islam cannot tolerate a separation of Church and State. Where Muslims are in a majority (or even as a determined minority), they MUST by ruled by religious law. That is the nature of the Ulama. Thus, even though enlightenment ideals and most science originated in Islamic countries, Islam could not benefit from them since they always had to be subordinated. This is something Maher and most critics in the West do not understand.

  • allenels

    I watched the same show that you did…but apparently we saw two very different things. I think Maher’s and Harris’s discussion was delivered from a position of smug “I’m smarter than you, I know more than you because I’m an atheist…I’m not tied to any fantasies….” I’m not sure how any discussion occur with positive outcomes when one participant feels superior. Maher and his buddy did not allow any other statement about Islam and its followers, other than their determination that it and its followers should be eliminated from the face of the earth. Bill Maher is not a great thinker although he perceives himself to be, and he has never been a funny. He spends to much time enjoying his own quips! I am not a fan of Ben Affleck either, but his point to Maher and Harris about their toxic ideas about Islam being similiar to white prvilege and how black are perceived was brushed aside by the enlightened ones as if the analogy was…what did you call Affleck….”an immature jackass”. There was nothing ‘forward’ about this interview segment on Maher and your intent to raise the level of discussion by criticizing Affleck and venerating Maher and Harris is far greater than a stumble.

  • John Cross

    BTW Ben Affleck is correct in this case. But he is a movie star, not a debater like Maher. They lure him into trap after trap. But their statistics do NOT mean they are correct. LOL. Hilarious then Maher mentions the Mafia. The Mafia WERE very good Catholics, and the Catholic church used exactly the same tactics.

    • TeeDee

      Are you actually saying that “good Catholics” extort money, beat people up and murder anyone who opposes their will? Wow.

    • Dennis Manning

      OH, well thanks for clarifying that! I always try to teach my kids that its OK to do bad shit because someone else did or does it too. Very astute observation John! 🙁

  • Dennis Manning

    I always thought Affleck was a F*%@ing idiot, now I KNOW! Does this dumb ass really believe he’s a superhero after doing a re-re-re-re-make of Batman! I think he should take his open mind to Syria to render humanitarian aid and we’ll see if he’s the next to wear an orange jumpsuit.

  • Lynn Salton

    I watched Ben Affleck’s performance on “Real Time” and was amazed just how obtuse, immature and rude he was. (Then again, after watching “Argo” I shouldn’t be surprised… Affleck has no appreciation for facts or an understanding of history). Too many Liberals think it’s cool to be sympathetic to Islam without truly understanding the religion of Allah. The Liberal mind is trapped by supporting the concept of “freedom of religion” while knowing that Islam is using that freedom to establish itself and then eradicate all other religions. It’s a dilemma for the Liberal mind… but it requires a lot more discussion than the ignorant and incoherent blather provided by Affleck last Friday night.

    • DarthYan

      ha. Christianity is only not bad because most christians practice more secular values. A christianity that was fully fund would be as nasty as islam, if not MORE nasty

      Also other muslim countries do have more liberal attitudes. Indonesia has very few who support the death penalty

  • Roger Fisher

    just as ben, I see here typical so called intellectuals have no wisdom. China has millions of Christians & is the biggest growing Christian population there is. Communist get rid of religion because they see the truth of things & the real battle is between the truth & those that deceive & intellectual’s are the easiest to deceive because they lack wisdom

  • DarthYan

    maher said that more than a billion are radicals or hold radical beliefs. He defended ben netenyahu and his “religious” documentary ignored the vicious haredi fuckheads who live in settlements