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. Natas

    I love how sports players pray and gesture/look toward the sky, as a child of God, asking her to let the player triumph over his/her rivals, who are God's children also. Isn't that ironic? Bible Bumper sports players ask for victory over another of God's creatures. Isn't that a little twisted, selfish, hypocritical. I mean who does God choose?

    December 30, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • Woodrow

      Haven't heard Tebow pray for that. You've been that close to him to hear what he's saying?

      Actually, he's stated publicly, over and over and over again, that he simply prays that he'll do his best. Not sure why you would think that's SOOOOO wrong.

      But, of course, you don't bother to find out what the truth is before posting a stupid comment. You just made an assumption and stated it as fact.

      What a dolt.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:19 am |
    • SciGuy

      Whomever he wants.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  2. Bob

    SciGuy, Bible says Jesus died for mans sins. It's says the only way to the father is through the son Jesus Christ, whosoever believeth in him shall have eternal life., also believe that Jesus was the son of God and rose from the dead after crucified

    December 30, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • SciGuy

      Whomever's sins he died for have nothing to fear. Payment God cannot twice demand, first at my bleeding Surety's hand and then again at mine.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:40 am |
  3. Joe

    Bill speaking the unpopular truths... Keep it up... The world will be more productive with rational thinkers...

    December 30, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • Woodrow

      Unpopular? LMAO...Have you read the comments here? Jeeze – Tebow's been skewered for his apparently 'unpopular' beliefs and you think Bill is sticking his neck out? It's like fan mail in here for Bill.

      That must be one heck of an RCI you have...

      December 30, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  4. tensai13

    Not a good comment by Bill Maher but I love Bill Maher for being a truth seeker unlike Tebow who needs to keep his sucky religion to himself while on the football field.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:10 am |
  5. John

    It's called 'COMEDY' people. I hope Santa brought you a sense of humor this year.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • Woodrow

      What Bill does is't comedy. Satire maybe. More like commentary via insult.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:21 am |
  6. ed watts

    (It was insulting Tim Tebow, not Jesus Christ, that drew the ire of a nation.) Give me a break...would ya! Way to go Bill.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  7. Matt

    I don't think Bill Maher is feeling any wrath, and certainly doesn't feel anything approaching remorse. But then again, I think that's kind of the point.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  8. Rod C. Venger

    So I can tell ni66er jokes so long as they're funny? Cool.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  9. Jfk1971

    Bill Maher is nothing more than a Howard Stern wannabe whose Catholic upbringing is the only thing that has kept him from sinking that low. He is a weak and worthless man who can find no more use for his life than to mock and satirize those who actually bring goodness to this world, all because he has an uncontrollable hatred towards people of faith. He is a sad human being. He's not really all that funny either.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  10. Randy S.

    Yeah Bill is a chicken sh$t. Say something about Islam you chick POS. I could care less about Teebow. Bill is a twit and a coward who only says anything from a safe distance. Bill and Rush are the same person from a different angle. Both are d&ck heads. I am guessing bill is a sad angry person who's only friends are his coat hangers who hope to gain kissing his butt.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  11. philip

    "Honey, come to bed"

    "Not now, dearest. I'm posting a snide comment about christianity on a news website comment board under the discretion of anonymity"

    "OoooOOOHHH!!! WHAT A MAN!!!!"

    "Not only that, but I also boldly poked fun at a man that dares express his faith in public. That'll teach him to stand up for what he believes in!"


    December 30, 2011 at 1:06 am |
    • Bob

      that's too funny!!! you need to write more

      December 30, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • philip

      glad I got to impress Bob. What a night. Bob is satiated.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:40 am |
  12. CNN Fans

    Looking through the messages here and on some other stories on the home page I can't get over how extremely lopsided the number of both atheists and leftists are on this site. Here's a clue – if nearly everyone around you agrees with your position, then you probably aren't seeing a balanced perspective.

    It's no wonder Fox News found a massive audience (more than the other news networks combined last I heard). It's not like they are balanced either, but they do provide some balance to the stuff you see here. CNN and FoxNews seem to operate on opposite ends and good news (read "opinion" anymore) will be somewhere in between.

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

      No, CNN and FauxNews suck equally but it's still entertaining to poke at people who are behind the curve...

      December 30, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  13. Duce

    Well, since hell isn't real, I'm sure he's not too worried about it. You have to appreciate comedy, even if you're religulous...

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

      Let us know when you see a story about a comedian then. The only people that find Bill funny are those that agree with him – and it isn't because it's funny. It's because he's a put-down artist and you happen to agree with his positions...

      It's like people that do any type of insult humor. It's about the lowest form of so-called comedy there is because there's no talent in it. It's not timing. It's not witty. It's low-grade junior high stuff - he probably still laughs when he farts...

      December 30, 2011 at 1:09 am |
  14. Jdhaus28982

    Dear Eric Marrapodi, they were getting destroyed by the Patriots on Xmas eve. They got destroyed by the Lions about 7 or 8 weeks ago. Way to research your article fella. I hope you have a back up career b/c journalism certainly doesn't suit you.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • Sam Kerason

      Tim Tebow and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was getting destroyed by the Bill on Christmas Eve. If you're going to call out a guy for not researching what he writes in his article don't go and blow out more false info.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • Jacifer

      It wasn't the patriots. it was Buffalo. I guess no one knows what they are talking about

      December 30, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • rashaad

      it was buffalo dude. the bills.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  15. Fox Mulder

    lol Football Jesus

    December 30, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  16. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Tebow is a mediocre qb at best. Jesus obviously likes the Patriots best.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  17. Bob

    Aaron, my faith is fine with Jesus. I stand up for JC. He died for mine and your sins, the ultimate gift to all of mankind, that's the least i can do. Bill Maher is on his own in after death

    December 30, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • SciGuy

      Bob, if Aaron is not a believer, then you don't know if Jesus died or his sins. Jesus died for the sins of everyone who believes in him (Jn 3:16).

      December 30, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  18. Tony

    Tebow's constant thanks to God, publicly and without end is VERY tiresome. Especially since his overall performance makes one wonder who is really on his side.

    As for Maher, this is still America and he can say whatever he wants; zealots be damned!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:59 am |
  19. Tr1Xen

    Bill Maher is AWESOME!! ;D

    December 30, 2011 at 12:59 am |
  20. Ardiril

    Maher is not feeling any wrath from his fans, and as an entertainer, no one else matters.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • Bob

      all 50 of his fans?

      December 30, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'd like to see the source of that number Bob. I suspect you are yet another christian who is lying in an effort to make other people look bad. I guess that the 10 Commandments were just kind of suggestions.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • Chappy

      50 fans, really? You must get your facts from Fox News. His Real Time HBO show gets over a million viewers every week.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:16 am |
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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.