Penn & Teller; factless smear of the Church

They have attacked the Church before on their series on Showtime. But their finale, this time, reaches new heights via a harangue that is long on hysterics and absent on the facts.

Umm can we get some details please?

Watch the show.

  1. I don’t get Showtime.

  2. Has you only now discovered that popular entertainment and popular media in general are no source of theological truth?

It is a TV show and nothing more. Although some of their episodes have been humorous in the past, there are some that push the limits such as the one aired this week. The purpose is to get a rise out of people and it seems to somewhat be working.

have you thought about
DON’T WATCH THE SHOW!!!1;););););):o:o

7-10 The Vatican August 27, 2009 Penn & Teller discuss the Catholic Church and their involvement in anti-homosexuality efforts, condom use, and the cover up of the priest abuse sex scandal. They talk with an Italian comedian that was punished for criticizing Pope Benedict the XVI.


August 28, 2009

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on last night’s edition of Penn & Teller’s show. The program aired on Showtime which is owned by CBS:

The Nazis couldn’t have done better. Having been in this job for over 16 years, I have never seen a more defamatory, obscene and vicious show on TV. And I mean about any religious or demographic group—not just Catholics. The lies about the Catholic Church, to say nothing of the vile language used by Penn Jillette, were positively astounding. Moreover, it never attempted to be comedic—from the very beginning it advertised the show as payback for 2,000 years of alleged crimes. This was Julius Streicher back from the grave.

In this half-hour show, the Catholic Church was blamed for every evil in history. Jillette said the “intolerance, greed, paranoia, hypocrisy and callous disregard for human suffering” was the hallmark of the Catholic Church. Others on the show branded the Church an “amoral” and “power hungry” institution that is just worried about its “cash flow.”

Jillette lied about the Vatican’s reaction to Sabina Guzzanti, an Italian foul-mouthed comedian who staged an assault on the pope in 2008: the pope never sought to throw “her sexy *** in jail” and never once sought any punitive measure against her—it’s all a bald face lie! Jillette lied about a 1962 Vatican document—it was a statement about penalties for priests who used the confessional to solicit sex: it was not a cover-up for sexual misconduct! He lied about Pope Benedict XVI—he had absolutely nothing to do with overseeing cases of priestly sexual misconduct in the United States! And so on.

Spokesmen for Catholics for Choice, SNAP and Dignity—three anti-Catholic groups that lie about their Catholic status—twisted, distorted and ridiculed Church teachings on sexuality.

I have asked to meet with Les Moonves of CBS. On Monday, we will have a mass mailing of DVD copies of this episode to bishops and religious leaders across the nation. This cannot go unanswered.

Contact CBS rep Nancy Tellem at

Copyright © 1997-2009 by Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
*Material from this website may be reprinted and disseminated with accompanying attribution.


August 31, 2009

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the latest developments regarding the Catholic League response to Penn & Teller’s incredible episode on Showtime last Thursday:

I was happy to finger CBS this morning on “Fox and Friends” as the ultimate culprit: Penn & Teller’s Nazi-like assault on Catholicism that took place on August 27 will go down in history as one of the most vile, obscene programs ever aired in any nation. That CBS, which owns Showtime, allows this to go on is positively unbelievable.

We are now getting copies made for a mass mailing later this week. We will send a copy of this episode to 414 bishops, and to hundreds of influential Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Orthodox Christian, Muslim and Mormon religious leaders across the United States. We will also send a copy to hundreds of activists and members of the media. Then we will feature what Penn & Teller have done in the next edition of Catalyst, our monthly journal; that will reach a huge audience. Moreover, I am already scheduled to do several radio shows on what happened.

We want everyone to know about what CBS considers fair game. There is no way to undo the damage already done, but CBS/Showtime can still drop Penn & Teller. The ball is in their court.

Contact CBS rep Nancy Tellem at

Copyright © 1997-2009 by Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
*Material from this website may be reprinted and disseminated with accompanying attribution.

Seems like their plan worked. Attack the Church and create a huge sensation and instead of half a million viewers, the next time their show airs, 3 million will watch to see what they do. CBS could care less about the church; it’s just about money. With the economy as it is, don’t be surprised to see more of this kind of stuff, especially with such a robust response.

I kinda sorta like “Weeds” and “Nurse Jackie” (both of which just had their season finales), and that’s the only reason I got Showtime. Now, of course, I’m going to just have to go to Showtime On-Demand to watch it to see what all the fuss is about.

Yes, I’m one of those “wants to see what all the fuss is about” people. I couldn’t care less about Penn & Teller, but now I’m really curious…

What the Catholic League seems to forget is that the era of “mass media” is long gone. The last “mass media” television show was “American Idol.” We now live in an increasingly-fragmented society where companies like Viacom (CBS’s parent company) probably aren’t shaking in their boots anymore. And, as such, the notion of boycotts is as timely and relevant for Catholics as bomb shelters and hula hoops and poodle skirts. This is the current face of Catholic Evangelism in 2009? Worrying about a stupid TV show most people haven’t even heard of? You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me. In his never-ending zeal to preach the gospel of Victimist Catholicism and finding anti-Catholic bigotry everywhere he looks, Mr. Donahue does more potential harm to Catholics than Penn & Teller could ever dream of. Catholics aren’t victims: we’re the ones Jesus promised the gates of Hell would never prevail against. How often do we need to be reminded that? We win. They lose. That’s how the story goes.

People and organizations, like Mr. Donahue, perform a thankless service for the Church that many others are unable or unwilling to do. It’s like being a soldier on the frontline, except the battlefield is in the media and not on the ground. Many people choose not to do the things he does, just like many people choose not to join the armed forces. But all of us owe a debt of gratitude to both types of soldiers who are fighting for our freedom and the things we hold most dear to us - our faith and our country.

I always thought it was appropriate that there show was titled “BS”, as that is the only thing that ever comes out of their mouths. The truly sad thing is that there are people that actually believe him. Just last week in my philosophy of religion class there was an atheist that went on a tirade about how Christianity was responsible for most of the evil in the world.

Just a word of advice though. Don’t watch the show. The more people watch the show, regardless of their reason, the more producers are likely to keep the show going. The only real way to get a show off the air these days is to not watch it, as much as you might be tempted to. Penn and Teller feed off of the controversy they create and the only way to make them shut up is to ignore them.

Why is it such a thankless task, or even a task that needs to be done? Jesus warned us that there’d be people who hate us for being Catholic - and there are. I think the New York Times’ recent profile of him, which points out how he’s divorced (credibility gap there) and not universally appreciated by fellow Catholic authors (notably the ones who aren’t selling their books), should shed some light on why some of us question why his “job” is even necessary.

Unfortunately, many times the legal rights and reputations of Catholic individuals and organizations are attacked by those who would stop at nothing unless someone comes to their defense. You might question some things about him personally or some of his methods, but Mr. Donahue has worked tirelessly to defend our Church’s leaders and teachings from numerous false and vicious attacks like the one mentioned in this thread. Jesus Himself displayed righteous anger when he cleared the temple of the moneychangers and when he scolded the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy.

Well, it’s ironic you should say “defense,” because I’m not hearing any “defense” of the faith from Mr. Donahue… he posted the video of the show, but there are no rebuttals, no answers, no nothing… a standard, garden-variety “Look At How Obscene And Blasphemous This Is!” - which it is - but nothing - and I do mean nothing - by way of answering Penn & Teller’s claims about the encyclicals that allegedly require bishops to “cover up” abuse of children. If Mr. Donahue is all about defending our Church from those who hate us, then why isn’t he doing anything to prove them wrong?

I never hear Karl Keating or Jimmy Akin or Tim Staples or anyone at Catholic Answer attack the messenger rather than the message. They attack the anti-Catholic messages only. The complete opposite of what Mr. Donahue seems to think is noble and “righteous.”

We should all be praying for Penn & Teller, and praying for them to one day know the Holy Spirit in their lives, not demonizing them further. We should be responding their misguided accusations, not make parlor games of attacking them.

Again, you and I can disagree with Mr. Donahue’s personality and methods, but he has opened many people’s eyes to the blatant discrimination and bigotry displayed by numerous individuals and groups. More people would only think of Penn and Teller as two men who mix humor and magic if someone like Donahue didn’t expose their hateful statements. Yes, I think that he appears to be too confrontational at times, but that may be the result of someone else’s biased reporting, too. I imagine that being on the frontline of these attacks is similar to being on the frontline in war. Good manners and polite conversations usually take a back seat when one is fighting against someone or something.

Penn & Teller show aired on Showtime/CBS-View the video and comment:

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Only one minute in so far and this is simply demonic. There is really nothing else to say…

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