Stephen Colbert is known for his over-the-top conservative pundit persona on his Comedy Central show, but he’s also a devout Catholic who regularly speaks about his faith.
And considering that “The Colbert Report” host will soon be stepping into an entirely new role when he replaces David Letterman on “The Late Show” next year, some are wondering how his religious views could possibly impact his new gig.
After all, Colbert has never minced words when it comes to his faith. In a 2012 interview with the New York Times, the comedian shared his spiritual journey as well as one of the most painful moments of his life: a 1974 plane crash that killed his father and two of his brothers when Colbert was only 10 years old.
“I’m not bitter about what happened to me as a child, and my mother was instrumental in keeping me from being so,” he told the Times.
Colbert said his mother, who died last year, taught him to be thankful regardless of life’s difficulties.
“She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the cross and the example of sacrifice that he gave us,” he told the Times. “What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not no pain – it’s that the pain is actually a gift. What’s the option? God doesn’t really give you another choice.”
Colbert referenced his mother’s favorite prayer in a heartfelt tribute to her on his show after she died.
In a 2007 interview with NPR, Colbert said he once taught “a couple of years of CCD catechism” and described what he would tell one of his kids if they asked what or who God is.
“I think the answer that ‘God is love’ is pretty good for a child, because children understand love and, you know, I don’t want to get too much more complex with that with a second-grader,” he said.
Colbert also shared the answer he gave after his son once asked him about hell.
“If God is love, then hell is the absence of God’s love … can you imagine how great it is to be loved fully, to be loved totally, to be loved … beyond your ability to imagine it?” he recalled asking his son. “And imagine if you knew that that was a possibility – and then that was taken from you and know that you would never be loved.”
Colbert continued, “Well, that’s hell – to be alone and know what you’ve lost. And that was the best I could do.”
Listen to that interview below:
Colbert and New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan came together in 2012 to trade quips and deliver wisdom about their joint faith at a Fordham University event where the cardinal commended the comedian’s religious devotion.
“Part of my admiration for you is that, while you often tease and joke about your faith and the church, there’s no denying that you take your faith seriously, and look to the church as your spiritual family,” Dolan told Colbert. “In fact, when I met you last spring at a very glitzy gathering where you were the MC, the first thing you said to me was, ‘Cardinal Dolan, tomorrow night I’ll be with my son as he receives the sacrament of confirmation. Say a prayer for him, would you?'”
And let’s also remember that Colbert appeared at last year’s Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a Catholic charity event, where he roasted Pope Francis and Dolan.
Others, too, have highlighted Colbert’s intense faith. Los Angeles Times TV critic Mary McNamara covered the subject in detail last year, noting that “The Colbert Report” is “the one place on television where liberal Christianity is given a place at the table.”
McNamara continued, “The Passion of the Colbert. No one in popular culture talks about religion the way he does.”
The critic went on to say that Colbert doesn’t hide or downplay his faith, as he celebrates Ash Wednesday and observes Lent. And as the National Catholic Register noted, Colbert even recited the Nicene Creed, a proclamation that summarizes the Christian faith, on a 2006 episode of his show.
Father John Martin, one of the comedian’s friends, is also the official “Colbert Report” chaplain. Martin took to Twitter Thursday to congratulate the host on his new “Late Show” gig.
There’s no telling how Colbert’s faith will impact “The Late Show,” if at all, but it’s intriguing to see such a public figure embrace his religion so openly.
(H/T: Deseret News)