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. Chris

    Bill Maher and Rick Perry use to Tebow to garner much needed attention. Left Wing Liberals equals Right Wing Republicans and both want to control people's rights. Live and let live.

    December 29, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Chris

      That's ... Bill Maher and Rick Perry used Tebow to garner much needed attention

      December 29, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Obviously it's working for Bill. Rick Perry. . .notsomuch.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • Chris

      Nah, Both will have low numbers...

      December 30, 2011 at 5:17 am |
  2. HawaiiGuest

    Maher may have gone a bit to far with that tweet. Talk about condescending, he's as bad as many Christian extremists I've seen.

    December 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • JohnR

      I've long found him a fatuous blowhard.

      December 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
    • Jose

      He can say what he wants, if christians weren't so ridiculous and blind then they wouldnt be such easy targets for people who actually think for themselves. Its their fault really, and if they dont like condescending stuff like this, well then, read a book for a change, come up with an actually good argument about something for once, supported by FACTS.....easy!!

      December 30, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • sharky


      You ask for facts, yet provided none except to attack Christians. Please tell me what did Tim Tebow do to you? And I thought Liberals, such as Maher, and maybe you, were supposed to be the tolerant people. That is what they preach. Oh wait, tolerance is only afforded to those just like them.

      December 31, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  3. Anon

    Hey christards, U MAD?

    December 29, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  4. SCAtheist

    Wow I'm really worried about Tebow idiots. The defense won all the games. Look at the stats.

    December 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • derp

      Tebow is dead last in the NFL for completion % and 26th in QB rating. When statistically, you are looking UP at Tarvaris Jackson, that means you suck.

      I wonder why the other 25 QB's ranked higher aren't getting near as much press as jesusboy.

      Oh, that's right, they don't flaunt their religion at every turn.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:18 am |
  5. Emperor Kefka

    Bill Maher isn't actually an athiest. What he is, is a Zionist, doing the bidding of his unholy masters. Zionists are the root of all evil. Look it up, even the Orthodox Jews think of Zionists as their enemy.

    December 29, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • JohnR

      I hate to dignify your drivel with a response, but in point of fact there are both Zionist and anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews.

      December 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • WishBone

      Have you taken your meds today? Your paranoid delusion is way out of control. Lighten up, Maher's just joking. Don't you get that you sick little puppy?.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • Jose

      Oh right....just to let you know, not everyone believes in made up fairy tale bullcrud dude. Some people think for themselves, question things, and come up with conclusions based on facts....yeah they do, you should try it and see if you're still christian sometime..LOL

      December 30, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • SJA

      Wow, that took a lot to say, how do oyu really feel !!!

      January 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  6. David Johnson

    I never miss Maher. I even watch the reruns.

    Hell with the bible bangers and their god who doesn't exist.


    December 29, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Maher is fun to watch. Don't always agree with him, especially on topics of religion but he can be quite interesting.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • sharky

      I don't subscribe to any religion myself, but do you have proof God doesn't exist?

      December 31, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  7. Wright Tern

    All religions are cults.
    You are only the religion of where you are born.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Do you believe that one can arrive to the acceptance of concept of atheism on their own?

      December 29, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest


      Yes, Yes they can.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Fasdissent

      I did.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      So without any outside sources...you just developed atheism on your own? I think that is highly unlikely but that's what you say..ok then.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Yes that is what I am saying Uncouth. I was born into a religious home and went to a Christian school from 1st to 11th grade. I developed my thoughts on religion and the accomanying conversion into an atheist mindset on my own. My whole family is devout, and I ask them to not give me any advice or thoughts that come from their own religious beliefs.

      December 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Yes, Uncouth. 9/11 was my ultimate wake-up call.

      December 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • Electric Larry

      That's true for me also. Self-developed. There were no atheists around me when I grew up. The change came as I applied critical thought to the various concepts of God and found them either impossible or atleast wildly improbable. This was after a period of reading the core texts of a number of religions. Those books did indeed make me realize that what they were putting forth just cannot be true.

      The Problem Of Evil really sent religion into the ashbin of history for me, things like the Holocaust and cancer and Rwanda and birth defects. Every religion failed miserably in their attempts to explain those, but they make perfect sense in a world that operates according to the various laws of science, indifferent to individuals as there is no god to be indifferent.

      The simple fact that there is not a shred of evidence in support of the existence of any god really clinched it. Every tale of "god working in my life" was so obviously cherry-picked and misinterpreted coincidence and nothing more.

      No one indoctrinated me – I am the first atheist that I am aware of, though of course it turns out that there are quite a few out there, and even more who don't believe but won't label themselves as atheists.

      Logic and truth are the enemies of religion – it is not a good sign when your belief system is hostile to truth and logic and science, as religion is.

      December 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • GOD

      Exactly. I was just as certain as most on here about my christian beliefs (likely not as obnoxious however), until I went to college and continued on through graduate school. You begin to realize the world is much larger than the intimate setting of your childhood and teenage years. Knowledge is a powerful tool... and I just came to realize how absurd all religions are (and how all of them claim to be the "truth"). Nearly every other friend I have that is atheist came to the same conclusion through a similar route.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Religions are usually taught from very very early on to children. They are also punished if they don't believe a certain way. Also, the society you lives in often punishes people who choose not to believe what everybody else has been taught to believe. . .then you have entire societies (like the US) where businesses profit from religion and society eventually becomes more materialistic, worshiping at the altar of materialism. It has little to do with the original message, but more to do with greed, making lots of money for the few, and convincing people that buying things you already have too much of is a good thing. Countries such as the US have become so excessive in wasting natural resources that I'm afraid the human species will eventually do away with many of the other species, just because we humans believe we have every right to take every resource we would like and claim anything we want as our own.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • sharky

      Wright Tern–

      Do you even really know what a cult is? Government can be considered a cult too.

      December 31, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  8. BigRatings

    In American, they preach free speech and if you practice this right, make sure the majority agree with what you say or write; else you loose the right. If the majority of people stop watching Bill, HBO would cancel his show. Not because they disagree with his opinion but the ratings decide what airs and what is cancelled.

    "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

    December 29, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Maher has always been this way on his show. That's why people like to watch him. This "Tebow tweet" is nothing new or nearly as "controversial" as some other things he's said. It's just fun to watch all the religious fanatics and Tebow followers get all up in arms over nothing.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • Fred

      He has the right to spout his trash all he wants, we have the right to not watch his filth, and HBO can exercise its right to make a profit.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • DeWayne

      What a laugh, "by your spirit", you wouldlent defend anything to the death...you may fool some of the people some of the time and by the anti=Christ posts on this site you are fooling all of the people all of the time. Not some one that has been there and seen that. who ya gonna call when your on your death bed, Jonny Jim Bob ?

      December 30, 2011 at 6:10 am |
    • derp

      "we have the right to not watch his filth"

      Exactly when did free speech become filth

      "and HBO can exercise its right to make a profit"

      And one of the main reasons they get my money is because they have the balls to run Mahers program. You jesustards can whine all you want, it doesn't make your fairy tale any more real.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • sharky


      So personal opinions are not allowed? Sheesh.

      If someone thinks it is filth, it is filth.

      Do you agree to everything the crazy Phelps Family spouts off?

      December 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  9. You don't have the balls to listen anyway


    Go back to your street corner now. Your p-i-m-p and your dealers are waiting for their money

    December 29, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Generally speaking, ears are better organs to use when listening, and since everything here is written, listening really isn't an option. But we appreciate you advertising your stupidity right up front. It helps us set lower our expectations when you post

      I just love those wacky Christians who say stuff like that, and think it is the atheists who are angy!

      December 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      You're still trolling? Damn, you must be bored today.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  10. gupsphoo

    Thin skin Christians can't take a joke.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • sharky

      Neither can Atheists, so I guess you all are even.

      December 31, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  11. Tammy

    So what..... boycott all they want because I doubt any of Maher's regular viewers are surprised by his comments at all. He pushes the limits all the time and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The people raising a stink aren't Bill Maher fans.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Exactly so

      Absolutely right. These same people protest Disneyland whenever the Disney people have the gall to actually recognize that gays aare human beings. They live for the next chance to be righteously indignant. They can't wait for the next opportunity, and often have to invent it, like the moron high schoolers who blocked a hallway tebowing.

      December 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • sharky

      Exactly so–

      Those moron high schoolers were tebowing to MAKE FUN of him.

      December 31, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  12. Suzanne Jensen

    I live in Utah, land of the "Saints" and "Chosen One's", their label not mine. Bill Maher's show is like a mini vacation out of Utah and it's vise like grip on intellect. I'll take hell anyday with people like Bill Maher, certainly more appealing than moral majority white bread christian heaven.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • DeWayne

      And so you say.....so you'll get.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:17 am |
  13. trini olsen

    eleanor-the unintellegent always resort to name calling and swearing to try to get their point across. it is easy for sub intellegent people, like yourself and bill maher, to attack values of those that have them-as it takes more depth to have faith and believe in people than it does to mock them for having them, i am sorry that your life is so empty and lacking in purpose and meaning. on a sidebar, the broncos lost to the bills christmas eve, not the lions.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Suzanne Jensen

      What amazes me is that people seem to think that if you don't believe in God that you are incapable of making a moral or kind decision on your own. I remember seeing the show The Ten Commandants when I was a kid and being very expectant going in that certainly if these were God's commandments then they were going to be profound. I was quite letdown in that I had already figured out most of the commandants on my own and the parting of the Red Sea only added to the fairy tale association I was already coming to regarding religion. Sorry but I don't need a God to have a moral compass and know right from wrong.

      December 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      @ trini- "the unintellegent always resort to name calling.." And then a line later you're calling people unintelligent. You are a precious snowflake, huh?

      December 29, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • aarrgghh

      believing that you will escape the clutches of death to some farcical fantasy land of plenty is not "having values" it is deluding yourself and dangerous to others. We know where weather comes from now, your god holds no further fear for modern man. Sorry

      December 30, 2011 at 5:51 am |
    • DeWayne

      So tell me S. Jensen what are your ten commanments you God person you.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:27 am |
  14. Kristians got a boo-boo and need a Jesus band-aid

    Poor widdle kwistians got their feelings hurt. It's so sad. It's just so sad that Bill Maher can't see that despite a total lack of evidence, Jesus is real and he is lord.

    December 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Milton

      Wow..you are a jerk.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Jose

      well put...LOL

      December 30, 2011 at 1:51 am |
  15. Matt

    Hello, writer, the Broncos were being destroyed by the Buffalo Bills, not the Detroit Lions. The Lions destroyed them earlier in the season. Way to proofread! Maher's Tweet says "Buffalo," not "Detroit."

    December 29, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  16. *frank*

    "For all the furry aimed at Maher"
    –is this some sick cosplay thing...?

    December 29, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Fookin' Prawn

      Yeah, they gave us a mental image for a moment there that we really didn't need.

      December 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  17. *frank*

    O tempora! O mores!

    December 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  18. HotAirAce

    Go Bill Go!

    December 29, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  19. AGuest9

    "People quickly responded to Maher on Twitter and called him (in summary) a hell bound atheist piece of trash"

    How christian!

    December 29, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • AGuest9

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

      Good catch! What is this all really about?

      December 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • EleanorBright

      The SNL skit about Tebow is great. Check it out.

      December 29, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • aarrgghh

      an atheist only denies 1 more god than they do. there is no less chance either are wrong... it is not a one or the other argument. If they land in the realm of a god they have actively hated and denied their entire lives, do they think it will be all happy times of forgiveness? Your "peaceful loving" god is full of petty fear, jealousy and rage and also completely imagined

      December 30, 2011 at 5:59 am |
    • KeninTexas

      How accurate!

      December 30, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • sharky

      No different than the so called "Tolerant" Atheists. LOL.

      December 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  20. DamianKnight

    Bill Maher...can't stand that guy. And not just because he has differing views than I do. It's more that...I don't find him funny. At all.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • EleanorBright

      That's because you are too stupid to get his jokes.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      ...or he doesn't appeal to my sense of humor.

      Really I think it's remarkable that you can make any statement as to the level of my intelligence based on the fact that I don't like one comedian.

      December 29, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • EleanorBright

      It was your beliefs that sealed the deal, stupid.

      December 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • sharky


      How old are you, 2? So because someone doesn't like Bill Maher they are instantly stupid and cannot understand his jokes? I think Maher is a ignorant POS, and I have a very twisted sense of humor, he is just a blowhard poster child for anger management classes. Sorry I do not find it funny when someone, Maher, dresses up as Steve Irwin complete with blood and barb, for Halloween, a year after Steven Irwin was killed, and no I was not a fan of Irwin either.

      December 31, 2011 at 3:35 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.