Bill Maher calls Mormonism a ‘cult’

at 03:17 PM ET, 05/21/2012

Talk show host Bill Maher, a major financial supporter of President Obama’s reelection, referred to Mormonism as a “cult” on Monday.

Mitt Romney’s only foreign policy experience, Maher quipped via Twitter, was “trying to brow-beat Frenchmen into joining his cult” — a reference to the former Massachusetts governor’s time as a Mormon missionary in France.

Obama senior strategist David Axelrod told CNN on Sunday that Romney’s faith was “not fair game” and that the campaign “absolutely” repudiates any effort to inject religion into the race. When asked about Maher’s comment, Obama’s campaign pointed to Axelrod’s remarks.

Maher is a comedian, not a political actor. He’s insulted Democrats and defended Rush Limbaugh. But Maher gave a hefty $1 million to Priorities USA Action, the super PAC backing Obama, and that connection has caused the president’s campaign some consternation.

“We do not think anyone should question a candidate because of their religion - it is an issue that has absolutely no place in this campaign,” a spokesperson for Priorities USA Action said.

Republicans pressured Obama earlier this year to reject Maher’s support given his offensive jokes about women. During that dust-up, Axelrod canceled a planned appearance on Maher’s show.

Last fall, Texas Gov. Rick Perry distanced himself from a prominent evangelical supporter who called Mormonism a cult.

“Cult” was the top one-word description for the Mormon religion in a Pew Research Center poll last November, followed by “family/family values,” “different,” “polygamy/bigamy,” and "good/good people.”

As of late 2011, 51 percent of non-Mormons say that they think Mormonism is a Christian religion; 32 percent say it is not. Opinions on Mormonism were divided in Post polling, with 34 percent viewing the religion favorably and 28 percent viewing it unfavorably.

 
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