question of the day: Is atheism standing in the way of an Emmy for Bill Maher?

Bill Maher has been hosting Real Time with Bill Maher for nine years on HBO, and he still hasn’t won an Emmy, despite receiving six consecutive nominations for the show. And he’s missed out on winning on numerous other occasions. In fact, he’s now the losingest Emmy nominee ever, far outpacing legendary loser Susan Lucci: She won on her 19th nomination; Maher just lost after his 26th.

Clearly, lots of people simply don’t like Maher — as the comments thread at this Gold Derby post about his losses indicates. But Maher himself thinks something else is at work preventing him from taking home an Emmy, as he tells ABC News:

A panel of, like, 10 people watches one tape. If half of those people are religious, that probably eliminates me right there. A lot of people wouldn’t vote for such an outspoken atheist, someone who made “Religulous.”

But Hollywood is supposed to be liberal! Is atheism simply too liberal for not-really-liberal-at-all Hollywood? Is atheism too extreme for American mainstream entertainment? (Just asking this question makes me wish I could see the BBC quiz show QI more: what little I have seen of it shocked me with its rampant intellectualism and freethinking… and it airs in primetime on BBC One, not on an obscure, little-watched cable channel in the middle of the night. And it’s hosted by Stephen Fry, a known atheist!)

Is atheism standing in the way of an Emmy for Bill Maher? Even if that’s just a convenient excuse masking other reasons for Maher’s losses, why isn’t atheism more prominent in American entertainment?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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