Maher has said in the past that while his own lack of faith would stop him from being an elected official, it might not be as big of a concern for future candidates, going so far as to call atheism “the new gay marriage.”
He also recorded a short PSA earlier this year for Openly Secular, an atheist group developed by the Richard Dawkins Foundation and similar organizations, comparing anti-atheist prejudice to discrimination against LGBT communities and encouraging atheists to voice their opinions in the open.
“Don’t let it look like an America where the most reasonable — not to mention correct — fact-based argument is really the weird one,” he said at the time. “The one held by a tiny minority of misguided eggheads. No, secularists are bigger than that, way bigger. But you’ve gotta show yourself. You might find you have more friends than you think.”
Maher also admitted that he has wrestled with the fact that many of his show’s younger viewers use Real Time as a primary news source, as opposed to traditional media.
“First of all, I have no desire to run for office,” he told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Second, I could never even come close to winning, because I’m an atheist. Poll after poll shows Americans would elect almost anyone before they elect an atheist. They would probably elect a pedophile before an atheist. Atheism, in the American lexicon, is just the worst thing you could be.”