Bill Maher takes on Tim Tebow and feels the wrath
December 29th, 2011
05:48 PM ET

Bill Maher takes on Tim Tebow and feels the wrath

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– On Christmas Eve the Denver Broncos were getting destroyed by the Buffalo Bills* on the football field and comedian, liberal commentator, and religious provocateur Bill Maher couldn't help but tweet about it.

Wow, Jesus just f***** #TimTebow bad! And on Xmas Eve! Somewhere in hell Satan is tebowing, saying to Hitler "Hey, Buffalo's killing them"

People quickly responded to Maher on Twitter and called him (in summary) a hell bound atheist piece of trash. Maher's social media jab was picked up by the media too and landed in newspapers, websites and TVs everywhere. Pundits and twitter users called for a boycott of Maher's HBO show Real Time, and threatened to cancel their HBO subscriptions.

The timing could not have been better for Maher. The new season of his show begins next month and the week between Christmas and New Years is a veritable wasteland for actual news. In a world where no publicity is bad publicity, Maher scored big.

Maher has long skewered people of all faiths as part of his act. In 2008, Maher starred in "Religulous" a documentary that poked fun at any and all religions.

For all the fury aimed at Maher for the Tebow crack, the long time atheist received comparatively little heat for his Twitter dig at Jesus the next day on Christmas.

Happy birthday to JC – but don't forget the other "gods" who have the same bday/bio: Horus,Mithra, Krishna, Osiris, Dionysus..makes u think!

It was insulting Tim Tebow, not Jesus Christ, that drew the ire of a nation.

"[Tebow's] public image is built on goodness and virtue," Patton Dodd said. Dodd is the author of "The Tebow Mystique: The Faith and Fans of Football's Most Polarizing Player" and the managing editor of Patheos.com. "His particular expression of Christianity, or Christian witness, is built on acts of kindness to the poor and needy and to strangers. It's not just taking a knee on the field and thanking Jesus after the games. I think a lot of his fans know that."

Dodd said fans likely felt defensive towards Tebow, but acknowledged an athlete so public about their faith could not viewed as untouchable.

"I think the difference here is what Maher said was particularly crass and crude and I think it's seen as aimed more ... at Tebow's fan base than Tebow," he said.

For those who said Maher crossed an unspoken line with the tweet, comedian Pete Dominick said no way. "Our job is to push the envelope. There is no line for us. We don't have a line. You can make a joke about my kids getting cancer as long as it's funny. It has to be funny. That's the only rule, that it's funny. We're supposed to be controversial we're supposed to be provocative, that's what our job entails."

"He's begging to be made fun of," Dominick said.

Dominick, who is also the host of Stand Up! with Pete Dominick on the POTUS Chanel on SirusXM, said Tebow's outspokeness about his faith makes him a prime target for comedians. "He goes out on TV and talks about his faith, he puts it on his eye black. We're going to choose to make fun of it. Always."

"I think it's the wrong thing to get upset about. It's a tweet. It's a predictable tweet from a guy who says these kinds of things and who has an audience who love him for those kinds of things," Dodd said.

For his part Tebow has not commented on Maher's tweet, keeping true to his formula of not engaging critics. Dodd said part of what makes Tebow such a great athlete is his ability to block out the noise and focus on the game of football. Requests for comment from Maher were not responded to by his publicist but Maher tweeted on Wednesday night:

All u J-freaks having a cow re my Tebow tweets pls go back to the much longer piece we did on 11/4 Real Time and have a proper heart attack

There Maher goes after Tebow in far more than in the 140 characters Twitter allows per post.

If Tebow and his Bronco teammates can win on Sunday they will make the playoffs.

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly had the Detroit Lions as the Broncos opponent. We regret the error and apologize to Bills fans everywhere. They have suffered enough this season.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

soundoff (2,202 Responses)
  1. Rob

    Most of the negative drivel about Tim T. and his open approach to his beliefs speaks volumes to me of people whose own lives are so shallow and hollow, that their only enjoyment in life is to attack and try to belittle anyone who makes them aware of just how valueless and empty their own lives are. As Jesus said, "the world hates me and they will hate you ,also" the latter being those who follow Him. Why should any follower of Jesus be surprised or angered by negative or hateful actions or comments from the likes of bill maher and those of his ilk? Their only hope is in the One they mock, but remember, God is not mocked without recompense to the one that mocks Him.

    July 13, 2012 at 5:01 am |
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    April 11, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  3. bud

    I turned off my HBO months ago due to this idiot. I like Boardwalk Empire and might turn it back on for the season but I'll cancel it again if Bill still works there. but I might just wait for the DVD.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  4. Mistylynn

    Maher is a FULL BLOWN JERK

    January 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  5. Joel

    First typo in this article was calling Maher a comedian.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  6. sean

    Maher is a self-promoting unfortunate little man. Everyone should do him the favour of ignoring him all together.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • PhilipV

      I can't stomach his 'humor' but when he appeared in Philly Pa front row seats to see one of the ugliest stubby little men in the world cost $425.00 SOLD OUT.......Jesus rewards everyone it seems.

      January 27, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  7. Don thomas

    Listen, God,Jesus,and the HolySpirit, are one when you ask Jesus to come into your heart and forgive you for your sins,it doesn't mean everything is going your way, it means if you die you won't go to hell, your heaven bound! That's the problem with our country, we want everything to be easy, just because we have God doesn't mean we are going to win every game,and everything is going to go our way, we will have lots of conflicts, and there will be winters and falls and summers and springs, everything happens for a reason. When a crisis comes you just put your trust in the Lord, happens it happen for a reason. You know that God is in charge. Can get a Amen! From all you follers of Christ! This what the parable of hiding. our light under a bushel basket. We are the light of the world! Let your light shine! It doesn't matter what non believers say! Bil Mahr your a idoit! I will pray you see the light!

    January 26, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  8. c. byrne

    for your informATION

    January 25, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  9. Fheal

    In a world full of commenters like here on CNN, folks who'll poke fun of anything religious.... it's is refreshing to see someone who turns the other cheek to you all. It must really smart, that none of your (nor Mr Ridiculousness) so called intelligent repartee has any effect on Tim at all. The best man is still winning, even though his football season is over.

    January 24, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  10. Marky Merlot

    I've always had a problem with a post-game interview, where an athlete (any athlete), thanks his coach, the team, the owner of the team, his Mom and of course God, without who's help, he couldn't have done it! That pretty much says God hates the other team!. Im Tim Tebow's case, he invites all the criticism he gets for the same reason and yet more so because he uses his celebrity platform to preach. If I was a Bronco's fan and an atheist too, I'd be faced with a real conflict wishing the team to win and yet wishing the failure of this pompous twit!

    January 24, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  11. mr. Magoooooooooo

    Goes to show who people in this country actually worship.

    January 24, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  12. Rogar

    Question: What round was Jesus drafted in? Heard that God is going to take out an ad, during the Super Bowl? Something about "Judge not, less ye be judged" Bill, was put here t That is the o make us think....If what he says makes you uncomfortable sounds like he got your attention! That is the point! THINK....not about Dogma... About what you believe and why!

    January 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  13. Rogar

    Bill, I'm with you! What I Want is a Witch, to make the sign of the pentagram after each touchdown! How about a Muslim doing whatever they do.... What do you think about this Pseudo-politician who is going to run graphic pictures of abortions during the Super Bowl!
    God, doesn't care about football...........He's gotta be confused about these evangelicals beating their gums and ringing their hands over things He'll take care! Oh yea, God Loves Hockey and girls BEACH VOLLEYBALL! That blows his hair back!

    January 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  14. dan

    .The media is the one continuing to show him and interview him. You stick a camera in my face, I have the freedom to say what I want. The same freedom that allows people to post their own comments here. Get some character and some talent and maybe you then can be on national tv and spout off whatever is important to you. Either way, as I see it, this country needs a lot more men of character like Tim Teebow and a whole lot less character of girlie men like Bill Mahr.

    January 23, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Loki

      Dominic is as disgusting as anyone I ever heard. CNN sponcers him by giving him voice on many morning shows. This is what Newt means by saying "liberal media". They can say anything and it is called free speech everyone else is called bigots, racists and the like. Bill Maher, well you just keep plugging away, honoring yourself with your anti religious comments. I bet you're a closet Jew. Ha..just joking.

      January 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  15. Someone

    Maher and this story is a waste of bandwidth. Tebow is a product of the star maker machinery – there is no doubt about it – but could we leave religion out of this for a bit?

    January 22, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      If you do not defend Tebow hard enough, God will send you to hell. Tebow's coming was foretold in the Bible. He is a Prophet and possibly the Football Messiah.

      January 23, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Cindy

      No, we can't leave religion out of it for a bit. It's TEBOW who keeps thrusting his beliefs in our faces by his antics and his face painting. We live in a secular country – at least for now we do. If Tebow is going to keep tossing up to us how holy he is, he has to expect to take some heat for it.

      January 23, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • jlv

      I think you have it backwards. Tim Tebow just plays football, other people thrust the camera in his face and he tells them what he thinks and feels. Bill Mahr on the other hand is a camera chaser, that is why he makes personal attacks on what he doesn't agree with. He is rude so that people will get mad at him and then people like you will comment good for him. Tim Tebow is only in your face Cindy because you refuse to change the channel.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  16. Edwin

    I agree with Bill Maher. Tebow has become a national clown. Enough already. People want to watch football – religious activities should be left out of sports and the games. We have Sunday church for those activities and to spend time with God. Who does Tebow think he is that God would actually be spending his time making sure he scores in a game. God has bigger and more important things to do than to help in a football match. Tebow – grow up and stop using religion to get attention.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Jennifer

      exactly where did Tebow say that he thinks God would actually be spending his time making sure he scores in a game? Did you read this somewhere? from everything i have read, Tebow only looks to give credit to his saviour, thanking Him that he has been given a chance to live an amazing life. i guess all of Tebow's charity work..giving away his time and his millions, that's for attention, too.

      January 23, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • dan

      Your comment is a perfect example of why this nation is going south quick. Tim Teebow's quick prayers and statements of credit to God make up, what, maybe .1% of your viewing time? The fact that the media wants to highlight it over and over is not Tim Teebow's fault or responsibility. "That is what Sunday church is for?" Really??? You would limit the liberties of another because you are THAT offended over a few quick clips? Kind of ironic that Teebow (who insults no one) is the villian to you and Bill Mahr, who makes a living being insulting, is your hero. Maybe you would be more happy in North Korea huh?

      January 23, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Bible Clown

      It's useless; you are talking to people who think God is watching them post on CNN and judging them on their defense of Tebow.

      January 23, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • jlv

      Actually Tim Tebow plays football to get attention. I'm suprised you didn't tell him to grow and get a job at Mc Donalds for minimum wage instead of playing childish games for millions.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  17. Bolts

    Go Bill Mahr! Tebow is religulous...

    January 20, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
  18. Michael

    Bill Maher is a wicked man, a blasphemer, a child of h e l l, whose time is short. The righteous will rejoice when God casts him into the lake of fire and he shrieks with pain and agony and is tormented continually forever, with no end, engulfed in flames of fire that are never quenched. Praise God!

    January 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Bolts

      You probably are OK with Newt... how funny is that...

      January 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • JC

      It is not up to you to judge or do you not actually follow the very words you preach?

      January 21, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Alex Blumin

      I do believe in God, but I have doubts God knows anything what people wrote in Holy books.
      God created Universe and Space, but not books and rules about religion.

      January 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Bill is Right!

      Tebow is a grand stander, pushing his religion. Those who think he is a miracle, maybe you see Jesus in a piece of bread, but that is because you are dilusional.

      January 21, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      If that's an example of God's message of peace and love, I'll take Maher.

      January 23, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  19. Earl

    Tebow probably lost that game because God caught him masturbating in the locker room... again! He needs to marry that girl with the big gozangas so he can get right with The Lord!

    January 20, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • jlv

      What was Bill Mahr doing in the locker room? And just thinking about that is causing me to lose my lunch.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  20. Chuck

    No one who was offended by this watches Bill Maher's show anyway, so that's a useless boycott. At least he got free publicity on CNN.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • jlv

      Which is what he wanted all along, so Bill Mahr wins.

      January 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.