George Carlin was born and raised in Manhattan, New York in 1937 and died in Santa Monica, California in 2008. He was raised an Irish Catholic, even an alter boy, and attended a Catholic school until the age of 15, when he dropped out of school.1
As a lifelong stand-up comedian, Carlin had a lot of opportunities to speak his mind–and religion and politics were two of his favorite subjects. Carlin left a wealth of social, political, and religious commentary–and most of it was highly critical. He often spoke about his youth in Catholic school and, as a result of his particular school’s relatively liberal approach to education, he says, he was given the intellectual freedom to eventually reject the faith. He said:
[There was] a lot of classroom freedom…in fact there was so much freedom that by eighth grade, many of us had lost the faith. They made questioners out of us and they really didn’t have any answers. They [Catholic teachers] would fall back on, ‘Well, it’s a mystery.’2
According to Carlin, religion is one of humanity’s greatest swindles and created nothing but lies, conflict, and suffering. I’ll let Carlin tell you what he thinks. Follow the link for the full transcript, it’s worth it, but here are a few choice excerpts:
When it comes to bullshit, big-time, major league bullshit, you have to stand in awe of the all-time champion of false promises and exaggerated claims, religion. No contest. No contest. Religion.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong on the résumé of a Supreme Being. This is the kind of shit you’d expect from an office temp with a bad attitude.
Overnight I became a sun-worshipper. Well, not overnight, you can’t see the sun at night. But first thing the next morning, I became a sun-worshipper. Several reasons. First of all, I can see the sun, okay?3
Next target: politics
Carlin was equally hard on politics as he was on religion. However, most of his bile was reserved for conservatives and Republicans. It’s hard to say if he was a Republican or a Democrat, however, as he refused to vote, considering it pointless because voting, as he said, is the “illusion of choice.”4
Carlin considered conservatives and Republicans the greedy, warmongering class in political ideologies. He said:
Once you leave the womb, conservatives don’t care about you until you reach military age. Then you’re just what they’re looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to be dead soldiers.5
And another one:
Conservatives say if you don’t give the rich more money, they will lose their incentive to invest. As for the poor, they tell us they’ve lost all incentive because we’ve given them too much money.6
Carlin was not unique in that he saw through the thick layers of societal propaganda and rhetoric that are the source of many of the world’s problems–and let it be known that, despite his liberal stance on most social issues, he would point out their hypocrisies as well–but he was well-respected and well-spoken enough to have left an impression on American thinking and history.