Religion rules: "Wait! I didn't say, 'Jesus sez raise your hands.'"





































































New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer

By Bill Maher

Rodale, 230 pp., $24.95












New Rules for Religion

The world of faith has always been nuts. Now, comedian Bill Maher tries to provide some order.

By Bill Maher

“New Rules” is a popular segment in “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the show HBO gave Bill Maher after ABC fired him from “Politically Incorrect” for being—how dare he!—politically incorrect. In “New Rules,” he skewers the pompous, the ridiculous, and the irrational in American politics and culture, offering simple rules as correctives. Exhibit A, which calls for an end to quasi-spiritual Asian tattoos: “Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it, it doesn’t make you spiritual. It’s right above the crack of your ass and it translates to ‘Beef with Broccoli.’ The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren’t pregnant.”

Rules are important, Maher believes. They are “the signposts that define where our rights end and those of our fellow citizens begin,” he writes in the foreword to his hilarious collection, “New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer.” “Adhering to rules and abiding by a code of civility—this is what separates us from the apes…and Tom DeLay. Stop following rules and you start stepping on toes.”

We all need rules, he writes, especially children; with proper discipline and structure, they can go anywhere: “Just look at what the Hitler Youth did for the pope.”

Maher did not set out to rehash the out-dated rules of yore, but to “establish new ones for a self-obsessed, success-by-any means, get-mine culture. These are the rules that frankly, were not necessary back when we practiced those old-fashioned time wasters: courtesy, consideration, and commonsense… When we disregard the rules altogether we get anarchy or, worse yet, Enron.”

Among Maher’s many targets, of course, is religion, which he has called a “neurological disorder,” and who could blame him? Here are a few gems, some rules to help bring order to the wacky world of faith.

Alter, Boys

New Rule: The Catholic Church needs to change its name to Tollhouse Cookies. A new study reveals that the tally of Catholic priests who’ve been accused of molestation in the United States is approaching 5,000, which means it’s time to change the name and start over. That’s what Phillip Morris did when their name became synonymous with lung cancer—they became the good people at the Altria company. Kentucky Fried Chicken wanted you to forget the “fried” part and became KFC. So how ‘bout it, Roman Catholic Church—or should I say “RCC”?

Coming-Out Party

New Rule: If your father is a dangerous zealot who describes homosexuals as “sinners” who practice “selfish hedonism,” you have a moral duty to become a lesbian. Congratulations to Alan Keyes’ daughter Maya, who did just that. Now, if you can just get yourself impregnated by David Crosby and then immediately get an abortion, I think we can drive Daddy right over the edge.

Devout of His Mind

New Rule: Pat Robertson is insane. Just because he smiles and wears a nice suit doesn’t mean he’s any less of a whack job than all those wild-eyed, urine-stained nut bags who babble on street corners about Jesus through a bullhorn. And he’s getting desperate, because after you’ve agreed that the purple Teletubby is gay, where do you go? It’s like Madonna when she needs attention. She has to keep upping the ante. In a year or two, she’ll have nothing left to do but anal. And by then, no one will care. Except Pat Robertson.


New Rule: Scientology makes you fat. John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Lisa Marie Presley: fat, fat, fat! L. Ron Hubbard went to the cupboard to fetch his old dog a bone. But it was gone, because his followers scarfed it. Be honest: It’s not a religion; it’s just an excuse for a bake sale.


New Rule: The next reality show must be called “America’s Stupidest State.” We’ll start at 50, and each week, if your state does something really stupid with, say, evolution or images of the Virgin Mary, you’ll move on to the next round. Of course, the final five will always end up being Alabama, Utah, Kansas, Texas, and Florida. Sorry, Tennessee.


New Rule: Update the Hajj. Every year, the words “Islamic” and “stampede” seem to appear in the same sentence when millions of Muslims descend upon Mecca to observe what’s called the Hajj. I don’t understand Arabs: You’ve got the most oil in the world, and your religion involves walking. Next year, I want to see a looser Hajj with a cooler name, like Allahpalooza.

Have It Yahweh

New Rule: God is a waffler. Pat Robertson said God told him that Iraq would be a bloody disaster. But the same God told George Bush it wouldn’t, which so surprised Robertson, he almost dropped the pennies he was stealing off a dead woman’s eyes. But why is God talking out of two sides of his mouth? Flip-flop. God told us to beat our swords into plowshares. God: Wrong on defense, wrong for America.

I Promise I’ll Be Yentl

New Rule: Jewish people need to start having sex. The Jewish population in America dropped 5 percent in the last decade, which may explain why this country’s finances have gone to shit. Breed, you sons of Abraham—breed! We need you. Israel needs you. Kobe Bryant, Robert Blake, and Phil Spector need you. Plus, without Jews,

who’s going to write all those sitcoms about blacks and Hispanics?

Love Thy Neighbor

New Rule: Don’t try to talk to me about “Desperate Housewives.” If I had the slightest interest in other people’s sex lives, I’d be a Republican.

Mein Furor

New Rule: Don’t pick a German pope the day before Hitler’s birthday. I’m not saying it’s anything but coincidence, but you’ve just given every conspiracy nut in the world a raging hard-on.

Mother Posterior

New Rule: If gay men can’t be priests, let them be nuns. They’ve got the costumes. Since 1978, America has lost more than 65,000 nuns. Many left the church, but most simply died. And went to hell. Why not let gay guys fill in? The Halloween parade’s loss can be the Vatican’s gain.

The Book of Moron

New Rule: If Utah gets to edit Hollywood, then Hollywood gets to edit Utah. Four Utah-based companies are taking popular movies, editing out parts they don’t like, and then selling them to other sexually repressed squares. Let me ask you this, Spencer: How’d you like it if we went through the Book of Mormon and took out all the bullshit? You have your fantasy world—it involves celestial marriage and magic underpants—and we have ours: It involves Sin City and a half-naked Jessica Alba. Instead of asking yourself “What would Jesus edit?” accept that maybe “Pooty Tang” just isn’t for you. You don’t see me adding jokes to Pauly Shore movies. Believe me, it won’t up your street cred when you bring home, “Dude, Where’s My Bible?”

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Humorist Bill Maher's unflinching honesty has garnered the respect and admiration of millions of fans, not to mention numerous Emmy nominations. His other books include “True Story, Does Anybody Have a Problem with That?” and “When You Ride ALONE You Ride with bin Laden,” which was a New York Times bestseller. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

Reprinted from New Rules: Polite Musings by a Timid Observer by Bill Maher © 2005 Bill Maher. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735 or visit their website at

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