A few months ago, a man named Dave Rubin reached out to us at Word on Fire to ask if Bishop Barron would be open to an interview. (Apparently lots of Dave’s Twitter followers suggested the idea.)
To be honest, we didn’t know much about Dave at the time. But after some Googling, we discovered he’s a well-known comedian and host of the super popular “Rubin Report”, a show that airs directly through YouTube. “The Rubin Report” has over 350,000 subscribers and 100 million views. It’s one of the most popular YouTube channels in the world.
Dave mostly shares cultural commentary and interviews with leading thinkers, scientists, politicians, and celebrities. He’s a fair and balanced host, but from the videos and comments, it’s clear his audience skews very secular and fairly liberal.
Dave is an interesting guy. One website describes him as a “rising media star” and “the voice of liberals who were mugged by progressives.” It says he’s “a 39-year-old pro-choice, pro-pot, recently gay-married atheist with a strong allergy to organized religion.”
In other words, the anti-Bishop Barron.
We wondered how Dave and the Bishop would do together since they’re almost polar opposites. But after sampling some of Dave’s videos, we noted that even when Dave disagreed with his guests, he was still fair and engaging. He’s a big champion of free speech and welcomes all sorts of people on his show. Instead of hammering them or tossing “gotcha” questions, Dave sincerely tries to understand the guest’s point of view, giving them free rein to articulate it.
So, with all that in mind, Bishop Barron decided to do the interview. He figured while some Catholics might wonder why a bishop would appear on such a show, the net effect would be overwhelmingly positive. His main hope was that it would put the Catholic Faith on the radar of thousands of people—especially young people—who would otherwise never consider God or religion.
And wow, did that happen!
Dave recently posted the full interview on YouTube (in two parts, watch them below) and immediately the comment boxes and social media lit up as hundreds of atheists, agnostics, and non-Catholics expressed admiration and interest.
(The videos already have over 100,000 combined views.)
Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it. I run the #4 most popular blog for atheists and I’ve chatted with hundreds of skeptics over the years.
Yet I’ve never seen a such a stream of genuine respect and appreciation for a Catholic cleric.
My job at Word on Fire involves keeping tabs on the different reactions, so I picked out some of my favorites to share below. I’m pretty sure all of them are from atheists.
(Neither Bishop Barron nor anyone at Word on Fire asked me to share these comments; I’m doing it just because I’m so excited by them. Also, there were many, many more encouraging comments. This was just a sampling.)
I encourage you to watch both parts of the interview. Bishop Barron did such a marvelous job. He was smart and eloquent, even when Dave pushed the discussion toward hot-button issues.
In fact, I think the interview offers a sort of masterclass in apologetics and evangelization. The answers weren’t perfect, and like any guest, I’m sure Bishop would love to go back and rephrase one or two of them (always the case with any unscripted, wide-ranging, hour-long interview.) But his responses are the best I’ve seen on several prickly issues. They’re sharp, clear, funny, and winsome, and confirm Bishop Barron’s intuitive grasp of expressing the Faith in the right way, with the right words, with the right sensitivities.
So watch, learn, and enjoy!
NOTE: All these comments were either on the original YouTube videos or in response to them on Twitter.