Ricky Gervais Tells ‘Esquire’ Magazine That Celebs Who Thank God For Awards Are ‘Arrogant’

"Thank God for making me an atheist."

Last month, comic Ricky Gervais (who will be hosting the Golden Globe Awards this Sunday night) sparked a bit of controversy by posing as Jesus Christ with the word ATHEIST written on his chest on the cover of New Humanist magazine. Today we learn that Gervais is at it again with new comments that he made to Esquire magazine about the “arrogance” of celebrities (like, namely, Sandra Bullock) who thank God when they win awards. Additionally, Ricky reveals to Esquire that he is very much looking forward to hosting the Globes again this year … and he vows that he will NEVER host the Academy Awards should he ever be asked.

On his commitment as an atheist: I have no choice. I can’t help what I believe. Probably the most offensive thing I ever said was “Thank God for making me an atheist.” It was a swipe at all those people who thank God because they won an award. How arrogant is that? There’s war and famine and God’s going, “Know what Bullock? Write a speech. I’m not going to say anything, Sandra, but write a speech. That’s all I’m saying.”

On the possibility of hosting the Academy Awards: They wouldn’t let me do it my way. I don’t think they could afford to. The first time the Globes asked me, I said, “Can I say what I want?” They said, “Yeah.” Second time, I said same again. They went, “Yeah.” The Oscars would never. I just don’t think they’d ever trust me. Nor should they. If I was them, I’d say, “Well, don’t hire Gervais. You’re asking for it.” I’m not a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I’m a wolf in wolf’s clothing.

On comedy: The most important thing in comedy — apart from empathy, which I think is important even if disguised — is surprise. I like surprising people with the fact that something’s even a joke at all. I did a joke yesterday for the first time live. I wrote it and I got excited. I couldn’t wait to do this joke about how I had told my four-year-old niece that her mummy had died. I told them I couldn’t console her — she just wanted her mummy back. So I told her, “Your mummy’s in heaven. She’s looking down on you.” And I asked the audience, “Is that so bad?” The audience went quiet, then they went, “No.” And I said, “It was bad. Her mummy hadn’t died. She’d just gone to the shops.” I loved the fact that they’re with me and I’m nearly crying.

The full text of Ricky‘s interview with Esquire magazine can be read HERE. I have to say, in regards to his Sandra Bullock comment, as much as this new comment is likely to stir new controversy … I honestly do not think he says these things just to make a thing out of it. It appears to me that he genuinely means what he says and does not intend to offend. The problem is that his beliefs, when clarified in comments like this, tend to offend those hold their religious beliefs in high regard. As I said before, I find his openness about his atheism very refreshing. Ricky may not believe in God and he very openly likes to talk about how he does not believe in God, but that has NO BEARING on anyone else’s beliefs about God. I guess I don’t understand why people get so worked up about this kind of thing. I believe in extraterrestrial life but I am not offended by others who do not believe in extraterrestrial life … even if they say, over and over again, that they do not believe in extraterrestrial life. I just hope that Ricky Gervais continues to feel open to talking about his beliefs (or disbeliefs, as it were) and I hope that others — whether they agree with him or not — wouldn’t get so upset by his comments. We’d all be much happier if we just let one another believe what they want so long as those beliefs do not adversely impact anyone else.

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  1. Mary

    I’m looking forward to ‘hosing the Globes again this year’ too!!!!
    BEST.TYPO.EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Robert

    Remember when Kathy Griffin made a thank you speech at the Emmy’s?

    “A lot of people come up here, and they thank Jesus for their award. I want you to know that nobody had less to do with it than Jesus, in fact I don’t even think he likes me, if it was up to him Ceasar Milan would be up here with that damn dog but he isn’t so all I can say is, SUCK IT JESUS, this award is my GOD now!!!”

    Couldn’t stop laughing, love it!

  3. I love Ricky’s frankness. He is always honest and open. Unfortunately, it tends to get him into trouble. However, Ricky never tries to force his beliefs on anyone else as many religious celebrities and politions do (ahem, Tim Tebow).

  4. AmandaNikita

    I have such mixed opinions about Ricky. On one hand, he is downright hilarious, and his brutal honesty IS refreshing. On the other hand, I find him slightly cocky and arrogant. It started with the fact that right when he lost weight, he harshly targeted fat people in his stand up. It seemed hypocritical.

    Then there’s the religious thing. After being agnostic for most of my life, though I reject organized religion, I now consider myself a Christian. Being a heavy Reddit/forum user, I’ve come across a ton of (though intelligent), very vocal and ignorant atheists. The fact is, to disgrace someones God is like disgracing their family. I personally keep being offended to myself, and realize everyone is entitled to their opinion. But by doing this, is he not as bad as the radical Christians who harshly criticize people for NOT believing in God? The sort of people Ricky most furiously dislikes? I personally am just surprised at how many atheists who are so vocal about their beliefs are actually greatly uninformed about religion. Christianity is so vastly different, and can mean so many things to different people. I just feel people like him take it all too literally and have no way of empathizing with the other side of things. I’m someone who is lighthearted about nearly everything, and can make any serious matter into a joke, but I think when it comes to religion to each his own and that should be respected. I don’t criticize him for his belief, why should he for mine? It’s just disrespectful. There’s no need to be so vocal about it constantly.

    Though despite all that, I must agree that I HATE when celebrities and politicians bring God into everything. Your relationship with God should be personal, not a selling point and not something you use to make yourself look better. One of my favorite quotes from The Bible I would dedicate to every celebrity/politician, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.

    • @AmandaNikita- I would STRONGLY disagree with you about ignorant atheists. In fact, most atheists I know are very informed regarding religion. A recent study showed that atheists are more knowledgable about religion than religious people.

      I have studied religion for a great many years. I was raised a Christian and in college studied Christianity, Islam, Buddism and Hinduism. I have read the Bible and Koran extensively and was an archaeology minor, spending a great deal of time on ancient cultures which revolved around religions. After learning all this I made the decision to become an atheist. The Bible is just a bunch of stories routed in very little fact or historical evidence. Christianity borrowed stories from other religions and made the stories their own. They even borrowed holidays from other religions (Christmas). It does not contain new original ideas, but many that have been passed down for thousands and thousands of years.

      The point is, you can believe what you like. I don’t care. I’m atheist and that’s my right and you are a Christian which is yours. It is Ricky’s right to express his beliefs and opinions and I don’t think he is pushing them on anyone.

    • ChristineLA

      I agree with you. All of the Atheists I have ever known have been among the most well educated of ALL of the world’s religions. Give me a good Atheist to debate religion with any day of the week.

      I have to agree with Ricky Gervais here, it is insufferable when actors thank God for their awards. Please, stand up and spout that when a lot of the viewing audience of awards shows doesn’t know if they can pay all of their bills, it is not at all obnoxious.

    • Why does the ridiculousness of the holy books in different religions make people not believe in God? I don’t believe most of the stories in the bible, but I still believe in God. That’s just a strike against organized religions to me, not God. But is there other reasons for being an atheist, and that’s just the main one talked about? I’m honestly curious.

    • sars

      I understand religion is a very sensitive topic for you, so know that I mean no disrespect towards you individually, but this whole discussion just drives me insane.

      Mainly it’s the whole argument that Atheists should keep their opinions to themselves because it hurts Christians/Jews/Muslims/etc while those practitioners can discuss their faith freely. THAT’S hypocritical.

      I’ve read countless arguments comparing Gervais’ comments to “radical Christians,” but he’s not out there with picket signs protesting funerals or abusing/bullying anyone. He’s speaking frankly about his beliefs – as others have been free to do.

    • AmandaNikita

      I suppose I’ve just met an overwhelming amount of ignorant people. But to be fair, an equal amount of religious people don’t know much about their own belief or others. I also was raised Catholic and studied world religions throughout my education. I’ve also taken the time on my own to educate myself on the history of the many sides of Christianity, as well as Eastern and other religions. I feel to form any opinion someone should really grasp every side of the argument.

      I’m glad to hear how knowledgeable you are, Meghan. My point is merely that if someone feels the need to blather about being anti-religious, it feels the same as any religious person shoving their belief down your throat. Even when I considered myself agnostic, and borderline atheist, there were an overwhelming amount of atheists that seemed to present forceful and uncalled for arguments about the subject. So even when I was on that side of things, I felt ashamed that these were the people who seem to represent it. I can honestly say not once in my life has a religious person made me feel pressured or uncomfortable, even when I strongly disagreed with them. It’s just been my personal experience.

      Your arguments against Christianity are completely valid and I agree with you. The church is very corrupt in many ways, and a lot of it is rubbish. I follow my own belief that humanity is too complex to have come from nothing (I must add that I believe in science and evolution 100%, but that God created the foundation for these things). The last thing I will do is argue the validity of everything in the Bible. I read it for the simple romanticized morality of it. The stories have a message, one that is meant to inspire people to be honest and fair. To me, that’s what I take from my belief, I can’t tell you concretely what is true, but if nothing else it is inspiring. I’m trying to grasp faith because I think it is a beautiful thing, of course I could break it apart and become a skeptic again, but why? What do I have to lose in believing that there is meaning to life beyond us?

      Anyway, my personal belief is not the point. I just want more of an awareness that some people just have a simple, personal relationship with God that doesn’t fall under the common ideas of a direct religion. It’s not even that sensitive a subject for me, I just hate that people bring it up needlessly – both religious and atheist. It makes Ricky angry that religious people do it, it makes religious people angry that he does it. It just seems like a lose-lose.

  5. Sarah

    When people get offended at comments like this I always think back to childhood when adults would tell you “stick and stones…” and that crap about words not meaning anything. Obviously nobody buys that childhood lie.

  6. Pris

    If there were no God, there would be no Atheists. – G. K. Chesterton

  7. I’m sorry, but I hate this dick. So unfunny.

  8. JCZ

    Being an atheist is a belief in itself really. I don’t believe in a God but surely don’t associate myself with atheism.

    But I will say…

    Thank God for The Office US and Steve Carrell. I don’t really like Gervais. I’m more on the side where I think his comments are to stir controversy to stay relevant. He is the Male Lady Gaga for actors/comedians.

  9. Whitney

    I personally believe that everyone should be able to say how they feel, cause we all have very different strong opinions and it doesn’t make us right or wrong. We can all argue until “pardon the pun” hell freezes over who should be able to say what and when but then we need to step back and take a good look at ourselves and see that we act like children fighting over who gets the new kid as a best friend…Life is short and even though we don’t always agree with others, we can learn to tolerate their opinions even if they don’t represent ours.

  10. Krissy

    I am an atheist myself, and have always thought it was a bit arrogant as well when people thank God for football wins or awards. I just think it makes the Almighty’s priorities sound a bit off. Bill Maher and Ricky are both so provoking, that when they make good points it gets lost in the offense.

    Bill tweeted something about Jesus caring about Tebow’s football games, but couldn’t step in to save children from horrors at Penn State. His point was valid, IMO, but the phrasing was just so offensive. Sometimes I wish they would dull their points a little to make them more accessable.

  11. Holly

    1. Since when has Tim Tebow honestly tried to force his beliefs on others, isn’t he just living his life? 2. It’s great that non-believers study the bible, but it not easily understood unless translated correctly with the Greek intention and the Holy Spirit 3. When believers in Christ thank God when they win, they aren’t saying “Look at me, God chose ME over YOU. I’m special and you’re not.” They are simply thanking God for the blessing, not saying that He chose them over anyone else. As if God cares who wins a sporting event! 4. This is in response to AmandaNakita who says that a person should not bring God into everything because the relationship is personal:

    Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

  12. @Holly-Actually, Tim Tebow appeared in an anti-abortion Superbowl ad, so he has indeed tried to force his beliefs on others.

  13. Megan

    I absolutely love Ricky Gervais and his stand on religion, so refreshing to hear a celebrity with the same views as myself. If you really listen to what he says, he really never tries to force his beliefs on anyone. He’s just stating his beliefs the same way a Christian celebrity states theirs.

  14. Asha

    I agree with the Thanks God speech. Who would the thanks if they weren’t sucessful, the worst part is a lot them are so untalented that it makes you hate God, seriously.

    • cutitout

      True Christians and believers thank God everyday just for being alive, thats the best gift in the world. Its not always about winning or the times when you have good fortune, God is not a genie in a bottle. Sometimes, not winning is a bigger gift than actually having your name called and tragedy, failure, and misfortune are just as valuable as their opposites. In fact, we learn so much more durring the hard times and they build character.

  15. cutitout

    First of all, When most celebrities “thank God” when they win awards, they are not actually thanking God for the award, they are thanking God for their gift. Its the same with Tebow, its not about the game its about being able to do what you love and the luxury of life and good health and really, just because. Faith can get you through a lot and sustain you and keep you from putting a gun in your mouth when things are low. Some don’t need that, some do, and if that is whats behind you and the driving force behind what you do and achieve, I say there is no greater time to professyour gratitude to the one who you think is resposible for it.

    Everyone has a right to speak about what they believe in but thats not what he’s doing. He is critiqueingbelievers and in away trivialiozing their faith and belittling them. If you don’t believe in God than just say that, end of story, when you go in on others and criticize them, you are crossing the line.

    It never ceases to amaze me how whenever ther is a blip about faith or God online and a place for comments, it gets flooded by “atheist” who fill compelled to ataack and denegrade relion and religious people….it almost seems to me as if they are still trying to convince themselves that theres no God…otherwise, why even click on the article if its about something you are so sure doesn’t even exit.

    No, thats not exactly whats goin on here but I dare anyone to google “Tebow” and tell me I’m lying. Sad, but kind of funny.

  16. derp

    ^^ Example of the religion/intelligence debate right here.

    You, sir (ma’am?), are lacking in the intelligence department.

  17. Will

    I think God shouldn’t have created the universe in the first place.
    Don’t ask me why.

  18. Meg

    I have no problem with his beliefs and his openess as an atheist. I am Christian and my husband is atheist and we co-exist peacefully. I personally didn’t appreciate his degredation of the Lord in his picture. Be an atheist, be a proud atheist but don’t defile what others believe in.

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