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. syllamore

    All good points, but, how can we blame the evil Americans and tie this to their unending search for power and world hegemony? THERE'S GOT TO BE A WAY!

    December 30, 2011 at 2:31 am |
    • Omar P

      We don't have to tie it to the intent of "evil Americans". It's just plain "greed" Jerky. If there were no America, there's be other greedy Jerks and the Frat Boys like you to defend them.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:33 am |
  2. jameser35

    St Matthew 6:5-6

    December 30, 2011 at 2:29 am |
    • jameser35

      A commandment directly from the lips of Jesus that most Christians ignore. Tebow can play football like a mf but he needs to read this scripture.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • Somethingnew

      If more Christians read their scripture, I would imagine that there would be a lot less Christians in existence. Ironically, natural selection in terms of philosophy has formed a religious base that ignores their scripture. Example: Leviticus 26 telling you to eat your children.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:39 am |
  3. PatrickB

    Tebow ought to knock off the publicity stunt for a while. Obviously all the praying didn't work for him on Christmas eve!

    December 30, 2011 at 2:25 am |
    • Woodrow

      I'm sure he's looking for advice from you.

      Your shift at Sonic is over early tonight, eh?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:40 am |
  4. GrowUp

    @KineticR–you obviously do not watch Maher's show. Example: the Islam 'fashion show" skit he did mocking burkas and Islam. He doesn't just criticize Christianity. Don't be a victim. Be a good person instead.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      Meh he's kind of like South Park.. Was one witty and cutting edge blade running comedy but now just washed up attention getting crap that almost makes Carrot Top look entertaining.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:11 am |
  5. Joe Mark Moore

    Why should anyone even give this so-called Comedian any attention in the first place. He's rarely funny and all you do by paying heed to his inanity is make this chump richer. Newsflash – he doesn't deserve it.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Brian Mouland

      Had a decent career ten years old ago, his shock value is gone reminds me of a noisy toothless lion.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
  6. KineticR

    I searched again to find any example of Bill showing anger, disgust or expression of demeaning ridicule of Islam, as he has of Christ/Christianity & Tebow & I found none. I did find him speaking calmly, in discussion with others, of some significant negative areas of Islam. He did take a courageous stand on one major issue of Islamic extremists with A. Cooper shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ocBSP_D940&feature=related , so I was not exactly correct in my original assertion. Still, The negative of Maher is > the positive & he should be held to the same standards as, say, Glen Beck & Hank Williams Jr..

    December 30, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • PatrickB

      So you're upset because you can't find an example of Bill hating on another religion? Wow – how Christ-like of you.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:28 am |
    • Omar P

      Wait, I thought this was a "Christian nation"? It makes sense that he saves most of his vitriol for Christians because those are the folks he is surrounded by. If Real Time was broadcast from Dubai, he'd be...running for his life.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • Somethingnew

      It's a shame that he doesn't make fun of Islam a lot more. That would make him look a lot better in God's eyes, wouldn't it?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • Sean

      @Omar P
      This is not a christian nation. This is a nation founded on freedom from religion, and persecution based on religious beliefs. There happen to be many people who claim to be christians here, but considering that there are more nearly 34000 different opinions as to what a christian is, that claim seems aggressive at best.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • Omar P

      I'm not talking about the actual founders, I'm talking about the warped mind-set of those who think that the dominant religion of the given time-period necessitates that it be the primary moral informer of the political system.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:56 am |
  7. Tony

    Don't you guys even glance at it before you publish it on the web? The very first sentence is wrong... Tebow played Buffalo not Detroit and the quoted tweet right after even gets it right. Later on you write "furry" when you mean "fury"... Amateur hour eh?

    December 30, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • Matt

      No no no, you were confused. He got a lot of 'furry' ,get it?? eh, eh?? no one?? ah well, time for bed.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  8. MsMustang

    There's no such thing as a god. There is a Tebow, however.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  9. GrowUp

    I say let's all stop extolling our virtues and smugly dismissing others as not "the chosen". Instead, let's practice kindness, charity and love. That is the true reward.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:16 am |
    • Omar P

      Amen, brother. And can you throw a football thirty yards inside an inner tube?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:18 am |
    • Sean

      @OmarP No, and neither can Tebow. =)

      December 30, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • Omar P

      @sean 😉

      December 30, 2011 at 2:42 am |
  10. nyl

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


    December 30, 2011 at 2:15 am |
  11. jameser35

    Unlike lowes, hbo doesn't pander to special interest groups. Like him or hate him, you read bill mahers tweet. The guy generates controversy, and he generates revenue for hbo. Tebow doesn't care what people think of him. He is an unbelievably talented athlete and he doesn't have to be liked to keep his job. When people start changing the channel bill maher gets to retire. Lowes should take a lesson from hbo, let consumers work it out. If you want to sell your product to everyone, its not a good idea to pick favorites. You sell hardware, you aren't producing an edgy provocative show.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:14 am |
  12. Franny

    Get a grip Omar. Nothing is so disturbing as a zealot praying over a darn football game. Good grief, I really believe Christ would be highly disappointed in many of these so called Christians.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Omar P

      Perhaps my bad punctuation is at fault...I agree with you about Jesus' likely or what I think would be his reaction to his zealot followers.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • Woodrow

      Yeah Franny – There is nothing more disturbing that someone praying for something (maybe that they'd do their best, that there wouldn't be any serious injuries, that ...oh, what am I saying, you obviously know what they are praying for and can tell me). I watch the news every night, and see images from all over the world.........NOTHING more disturbing than Tebow on a knee..........

      Really? Did you really mean to say that?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:19 am |
    • Omar P

      Woodrow is right and wrong. It's not disturbing because of the apparently meaningless commitment. But isn't that disturbing itself? That a large chunk of an entire nation (including myself) is so fully engaged in a debate about a self-promoting Christian and his antics in a professional sport?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:24 am |
    • Woodrow

      @Omar P - you don't have a clue what Tebow is praying for. If he's praying that he'd use the talents given to him in the best way possible, that's disturbing to you??? Both you and Franny appear to have jumped to the conclusion that he prays 'for the win' without having a clue about it. In fact, he's stated over and over again - according to TIM that's not what he does! Even if he did – what's it to you.

      It's disturbing to me that people would assume to know what someone prays for, then attack him based on those assumptions, all the while acting all high-and-mighty and pontificating about what a 'true' Christian should do all based on those incorrect assumptions.

      As for it being a meaningless commitment – what are you talking about?

      I haven't figured out whether you'd fall into the Sadducee or Pharisee group just yet...........

      December 30, 2011 at 2:37 am |
    • Omar P

      What you haven't figured out yet is that none of us have any idea what Tebow is or isn't in terms of the real nature of his faith. We can only judge his acts and they are clearly designed to provoke public discourse (such as this) about his acts. What's it to me??? Don't stick your biblical references in my face when you are on national TV...especially when your own savior tells you not to pray in public and make a display of your faith.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • Omar P

      "Be careful not to perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven. And when you pray, do not be like the show-offs. They love to stand up and pray in the meeting houses and on the street corners so that everybody will see them."

      December 30, 2011 at 2:52 am |
  13. braden

    Maher has got no character! No spine. It shows me how far atheism has gone to make MAHER into a better human being. With such filth on one end of the moral spectrum there HAS to be a GOD to balance out such hatred! Plus, you know Maher wouldn't say this to Tebow's face either which makes him all the more of coward. If this is what atheism does I'm all the more happier I got a friend in Jesus.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • Omar P

      Filth!!! It's sooo "dirty". I need cleanliness, and Buck Rodgers, and White Hats, and Holier Than Thouness and Crucifixions...oh, wait, that's not what I meant to say...

      December 30, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Somethingnew

      I'm not entirely sure that a metaphysical argument like the existence of a deity can be extrapolated from one large, made-up moment equation. Read up on a topic called existentialism and you might realize that basing an argument on "good" and "bad" is kind of a silly notion.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Lenny Pincus

      Maher would definitely say it to Tebow's face. The real juice is the media ignoring Tebow's dreadful performance against the Pats, after weeks extolling his mediocrity as some kind of divine intervention in the NFL. What a load. People are starving to death all over the world and Jesus is watching a football game?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:23 am |
  14. Chuckles

    hahahaha got to love that tweet props to Bill, love seeing people get mad over things that don't exist.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:08 am |
    • Omar P

      You can't know what doesn't exist, so let's not get carried away. But Bill's POV is valuable because he takes what he does seriously. BTW, the article is plain full o crap for claiming that Maher is timing this for marketing. He's done lots to hurt his marketability in the past so I find it odd to got there. I don't think BM gives a rat's...

      December 30, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • HereToo

      AMEN !

      December 30, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • AdmrlAckbar

      And your empirical evidence supporting your hypothesis is where?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Sean

      Gotta love all the wingnut zealots who get upset when someone says that they don't believe that god exists, and throw back the good old "you can't know what exists or doesn't" argument. Proving the non-existence of something is non-sequitur. The burden of proof lies with the person positing the existence of a thing, and in the history of the universe there has never been a single shred of proof given to the existence of god.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:37 am |
    • Omar P

      @sean The burden of proof lies with whomever makes an absolute claim, either way, or any which way you can think it.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • Sean

      The thing is, intelligent skeptics, commonly referred to as atheists, have met their burden of proof. To say "I don't believe in the existence of a god" is different that saying "I don't believe that god exists". As no proof of his existence (or any god for that matter) has ever been provided by anyone, there is no reason to believe in the existence of him. The claim that atheists make is one of absolute certainty, based on the complete lack of proof to the contrary, thus the burden of proof has been met. There is no proof of his existence, therefore there is no reason to believe. Unlike most believers, if someone were to actually provide unequivocal, demonstrable, tangible proof of the existence of any god, most atheists would change their opinions. The believer holds the absolute position that god exists, therefore the burden of proof is theirs. Unfortunately the default answer of the believer is that their faith in god is their proof. Faith means belief despite a lack of any sort of proof, and faith cannot be used in the argument for proof of existence.

      December 30, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  15. Omar P

    Grow Up is right on. Warner rarely referred to his faith and yet we all learned about it anyway. People will laud your acts as a person. You should not advertise unless you are running for office.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:07 am |
  16. Omar P

    Aside from the religion debate, Tebow has indeed proved he is a capable QB and weapon. A star? Far from it, but I'd take him over at least 20% of the starting QBs in the league.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:05 am |
    • Lenny Pincus

      Elway is gonna can him the first chance he gets.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:25 am |
  17. GrowUp

    I don't believe Christ would approve of using your faith to promote yourself and pat yourself on the back. That is not what he taught and certainly not what makes a good person.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:03 am |
  18. Omar P

    Hypocrites??? You are the one who thinks you know who is saved and who is damned. Learn a bit of the ole humility before you start tossing around your predictions. Nothing more beautiful than a true Christian. Nothing more laughable than all the rest.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:03 am |
    • Sean

      I'm sure you'll let us know when you see a true christian, right?

      It is a verifiable certainty that you are not a true christian.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:43 am |
    • Sean

      Hmm, I may have misunderstood your position, Omar.

      Apologies in advance.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:52 am |
  19. Justin

    The biggest gripe it seems people are having with Tebow is that when people insult someone for their beliefs or whatever, you expect to get some sort of a rise (as evidenced on this conversation feed) and maybe it makes people feel good to know that they struck a nerve with someone.

    But Tebow is so grounded in his beliefs that it doesn't faze him and that becomes more and more frustrating for people trying to be the first to get a rise out of Tebow and prove he isn't perfect (which he isn't) and, to be frank, that steadfastness amidst all this "hate" is pretty dang admirable.

    Yeah he is not a premier quarterback in the league, but he is a great leader that helped take a team from being an embarrassment to a possible playoff contender.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:02 am |
  20. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Fry: Guess I better head over to my night job.
    Leela: You have a night job?
    Fry: Yep, it's exhausting but I need the extra money to buy coffee to stay awake for my night job.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:02 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.