1st Edition

Religious Satire in the Era of New Atheism Do You ‘Seriously Believe That’ After 9/11

By Jerry C. Jaffe Copyright 2025
    112 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Religious Satire in the Era of New Atheism presents a contemporary account of religious satire as evidenced by the modern art of stand-up comedy.

    Focused on the context of the post-9/11 American culture phenomenon sometimes referred to as the New Atheism - as embodied by public intellectuals such as Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins – it documents the rise of comedic satire in relation to evangelical beliefs and religious dogma. Drawing on the author’s own experience of stand-up performance, it examines the comedy of figures such as Mark Maron, Bill Maher and Ricky Gervais and presents material from interviews with comedians including Lewis Black, John Fugelsang, Leigh Ann Lord, in order to provide unique insights into some of the issues and definitions surrounding satire.

    With attention to the demonstrable rise in religious satire following the events of September 11th, 2001, the author considers the clear link between this increase and the New Atheist movement, exploring shared themes and presence at specific events, such that stand-up comedy represents the Avant Garde of the New Atheists.

    1. Introduction: "I Survive Trauma through my Sense of Humour"  2. Reading Between the Lines and Defining Satire: ‘Seeming Seeming’  3. Religious Satire and Doubting Thomases: ‘I'm Here Promoting — Doubt’  4. Acting Out the Character of God: ‘Ridiculing the Incarnation’  5. Comedians Satirizing Creationists: "I Needed to go to this Tabernacle of Ignorance"  6. Conclusion: "People Snapped"


    Jerry C. Jaffe is Professor of Theatre at Lake Erie College. He has directed or performed in over 100 shows. Before coming to Lake Erie College, Jerry lived and worked in Japan and New Zealand, teaching, acting, and directing there. Many of his articles on the theatre have been published in various academic journals, including "'I needed to go to this tabernacle of ignorance': Marc Maron’s critique of the Creation Museum" (Bulletin for the Study of Religion, Vol 42, No 3 (2013)); and he co-edited the 2008 book, Performing Japan: Contemporary Expressions of Cultural Identity. Recent productions he has directed include The Memo, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Crave, Murder by Poe, Sexual Perversity in Chicago, The Jungle Book, Proof, and Almost, Maine.  He also performs stand up comedy, in the area and around the country.

    “Jerry Jaffe's a passionate expert on comedy in this deep-dive of how the craft has evolved post-9/11.  From how comedians addressed the tragedy to the role of wit in fighting religious fundamentalism, he writes fearlessly about fearless writers.   His literary, comedic & pop cultural reference points are mind-bending in this wide-ranging analysis on the tragically misunderstood art of satire.” 

    John FugelsangSirusXM

    “Jerry Jaffe’s Religious Satire in the Era of New Atheism is an accessible and entertaining look at the ways comedians grappled with religion in the wake of September 11th.  Jaffe’s primary focus is an elucidation of the rhetorical devices that humorists use to lampoon religious fundamentalism.  Along the way, though, Jaffe also sheds light on the contours of the many debates about religion in the 21st Century.  The book is recommended for anyone with an interest in contemporary satire or religion.”

    David Gillota, author of Dead Funny: The Humor of American Horror