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. Hammer Of Astraea

    I really don't see the big deal over the tweet aside from it being from Bill Maher who, like it was said earlier, is known for this anyway. If it wasn't for that, the comment itself wouldn't be anything new and above mediocre funny. Coulda come from any disenfranchised 15 year old who likes to read.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:04 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Yeah, but the difference is that with the Death of Hitchens he moves up a few slots, so he needs to keep his name out there as a leading Atheist.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:08 am |
    • PsychGirl

      Nailed it!

      December 30, 2011 at 3:27 am |
  2. what?

    the Broncos played the bills Christmas eve not detroit this guy needs to read up on his NFL stuff. honestly like the broncos played detroit like week 8 or something. sports ignorance really gets me heated

    December 30, 2011 at 3:04 am |
    • SportzRlife

      Isn't Tebow's batting average around 23% these days?

      December 30, 2011 at 3:07 am |
    • what?

      yeah hes an excellent point guard, averaging over 20 points a game and 10 assists haha

      December 30, 2011 at 3:12 am |
  3. Somethingnew

    It's okay everyone! I think these two links should clear up the confusion:

    You're Welcome

    December 30, 2011 at 3:00 am |
  4. komododr

    Hahahaha...... Ok Pete Dominic, I wish you, your wife, and anyone of your kids to have cancer within 2 years.......LOL, now that's funny.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:58 am |
    • Garuth

      I see you didn't read very closely. You have to do it in a funny way or make it funny somehow. Your post fails to do this.

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

      Of course you would wish that! Because you are morally compromised due to your religeous beliefs!! Haha! Any person really compassionate toward others wouldn't use religeous dogma to support immoral behaviour, but you seem to percieve a threat, sooooo...Out with the love thy neighbour, and lets wish cancer on him and his family! THEN he can die, meet your pathetic god, and see that he was wrong...right? Hahaha! What...a...joke. It would be really funny, but people with your kind of thinking seek political power to control others freedom. That needs to stop. You just don't really understand the separation of church and state, that's all...

      December 30, 2011 at 3:14 am |
  5. fred

    Religion is a crutch for the weak minded.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:56 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      ...hmm... like cutting and pasting and not coming up with anything original is very weak minded.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:59 am |
    • Brian Mouland

      Maher is the comic of the weak minded

      December 30, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  6. Garuth

    How sad that not one single Christian has ever been able to prove their god exists. Not one. Ever.
    If they could do it, I'm sure there'd be at least one selfless and honest Christian who'd be willing to try to prove it.
    Yet throughout history there has never been a single proof. Nothing.
    What "god" is this that demands our worship? One who hides and refuses to interact with anyone.
    Not much of anything, really, to worship, just some wishful thinking and delusions galore.
    How sad that no one can do it to help all unbelievers' souls. Sad sad sad.
    Just goes to show you where their hearts really are and what sort of mythic "god" they follow.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:54 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      It is equally sad that Atheist claim there is no God ...and they can offer us no proof.... I would think with the advancements of Science... they could lay concrete proof ... but nothing... just a belief that God does not exist. 🙁

      I guess Atheist and the Faithful have many things in common.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:05 am |
    • DMc

      Well, by pure postmodern logic, I can't prove that YOU exist either...

      We had a saying back in the archaeology digs – absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:06 am |
    • FL Jimmy

      Garuth.. the late great christopher Hitchens put it so well and so compactly :

      Assertions made without proof can be denied without proof.

      That pretty much covers all religions. End of story.

      December 31, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  7. JT

    My complaint is about the author of this article, who is SUPPOSEDLY acting as a "professional". Might be nice if you took the time to run, not only SPELL CHECK, but also GRAMMAR check on your articles. Then things like
    "For all the FURRY aimed at Maher for the Tebow crack",
    WHICH should actually be FURY, instead of FURRY LIKE AN ANIMAL, would get caught before you posted. If you're making your living as a "professional" by using words, how about actually putting out a professional product?

    December 30, 2011 at 2:53 am |
  8. Stephan

    Keep the damn church in the damn church, it is amazing that Christianity has to constantly proselytize itself. It get's really old having to listen to the damn blow hard holier than thou, (only parking their Christian inflated egos in the pew on Sundays). they need to stop force feeding THEIR version of GOD down everyone else s throat..keep your annoying christian dog off my lawn.. I know how to use a gun. I know god and I don't need someone else telling me I don't because I am not their christian clone.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:50 am |
    • Yuniverse

      throwing down the Truth... the only one.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • Stephan

      PS... the bible is nothing more than a story book.. written from oral stories handed down thru tens of generations.. get over it.. bible, grims fairy tales.. all the same principal.. once the right wing christian zealots learn to think for themselves and not be pulpit lemmings for hate mongers this country will be a better place. If Christians are so into this WWJD.. then help your fellow man, help with social programs, stop supporting fat cat republicans, stop trying to put down Gays, Asians, Latinos, start learning that you don't get ahead by closed minded narrow self centered thought that puts others in society down.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:58 am |
  9. Clayton

    Love this guy hahaha

    December 30, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  10. Bribarian

    Bill Mahr is a worthless hypocrite

    December 30, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • jameser35

      I get the worthless part but maher can't be a hypocrite because be endorses no code of ethical behavior. You have to believe in something, or atleast profess to, in order to be a hypocrite.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • Somethingnew

      Assuming that you are Christian, *you* are the hypocrite. Doesn't the Bible say something about judging others?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:53 am |
    • Andrew

      Exposing Teblow as delusional isn't hypocrisy. Maher doesn't claim it. You may be a worthless poster, though.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:25 am |
    • Brian Mouland

      Not worthless just not funny

      December 30, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
  11. GrowUp

    Hey guys. Don't be nasty with eachother. It matters not what you believe or don't believe. It matters what you do.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  12. Matt

    So i have now learned the secret to success... Make fun of almost every single person in the world, but if its funny, i will make be makin bank! Hmm... We sure do live in one messed up world.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:39 am |
    • Garuth

      No, you need comedy skills. From what I can see you wouldn't really have a chance.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:59 am |
    • Hammer Of Astraea

      That is actually extremely true; especially in our "enlightened" age where wit can make up for any and every personal deficiency.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:08 am |
  13. DoubleUTF

    I would like to see Maher the coward say something equally outrageous about Müslims. Say that "Mühammad is fücking all Müslims right now" and persist in his righteousness through all the deäth threats to him and his family and friends. Let's see how big his bälls are when there's a little more on the line than what he risks by insulting billions of civilized Christians. I'm neither, but it doesn't take much to see that Maher is a coward that will only insult people that won't kïck his äss or kïll him and his family for a "joke." Yes, there is a "line." Imus found it, Michael Richards found it, and now so did Bill Maher. He just fücked himself like a dixie chick and he doesn't even know it.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • Dave

      Pffffft...as if Maher has anything to worry about when it comes to the impotent tantrums of your ridiculous kind. His audience is intelligent people, not the childlike minds that adhere desperately to empty myth.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:40 am |
    • Woodrow

      @Dave - "His audience is intelligent people..."

      I thought you said you watched his show?

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

      I have. Absolutely brilliant stuff, as was "Religulous".

      December 30, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • tile

      uhhh...he has insulted all people who believe in fairy tales created by other men to keep power and control over others including muslims. you aren't the only crazy that believes in what their parents told them to believe without critically thinking for themselves.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • Somethingnew

      What were you saying about civilized Christians? Somewhere in between your threats?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:55 am |
    • Hammer Of Astraea

      This is extremely true about our current society where its glorified to victimize and get one over on another person. You survive the big fish and eat the smaller ones and accept your place in the pecking order. Take shots at the person's whose principles demand that they commit no injustice (and it is a reliable factor for most but not all who identify as Christians) and then, fear and kiss butt to those whose principles do not have that moral failsafe (like nutty islams or inner city drug dealers). I find it a bit cowardly to attack an enemy who is probably like 3% likely to immediately strike you back then the real ones who violate human rights and personal integrity on a daily, second-to-second basis.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:18 am |
  14. jameser35

    Matthew 6:5-6. Don't have a bible? Google it. This is the most applicable scripture to the Tebow controversy. Jesus knew his followers would hurt the cause so he specifically gave this commandment.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • Dave

      What, you expected a jesus freak tom actually know what their spell book says, and to follow it? How very naive of you.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:39 am |
  15. Wes

    God answers all prayers... I know because it says so in the bible and I quote: "Ask and ye shall receive. If it were not so, would I not have told you?" So let the billions of persons on the planet pray that the thousands of soldiers lost because of the Bush followers war in Iraq,.... pray that they come back to life. This certainly would be honored much more than Tebow winning a foot ball game right? Let the billions of Christians on the planet pray that the lives lost in the terrorist attacks of 9 11 come back to life too. This certainly would prove their faith is the right one. Then we on this planet that are heathens... u know, the free thinkers who think religion destroys far more than it helps.... can learn we are wrong about the crazy psycho denials of the religious and that their bronze aged mentalities are not wrong after all.

    No? This won't happen? THEN STOP THE INDOCTRINATION of innocent young minds. The age of reason is right around age 18. Stop brainwashing youth with religion which wrecks their brains and thwarts humanity from unifying together for a better planet.

    John Lennon said it best in his song: Imagine Let's quit wasting our times and energies on bogus religious falsities and start taking care of the planet for future generations.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • jameser35

      Pray away. But dont make a spectacle out of it. Matthew 6:5-6!!!

      December 30, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • heather

      Lennon also sang, "Imagine there's no Heaven, it's easy if you try."
      Why would he want you to imagine there's no Heaven?

      December 30, 2011 at 3:27 am |
    • PsychGirl

      Heather it's so you don't stop focusing on doing what it takes to take care of here and now, instead of giving up and ignoring people and the abuse of the planet because "one day you will go to heaven".

      December 30, 2011 at 3:31 am |
  16. Bob

    The Kansas City Cheifs will desroy the Broncos this weekend. Tebow will be so ashamed he will have a tantrum on the field and cry like a little girl,. waa waa waa. The Broncos will never ever show their fat faces in public again, ever.!!!!!

    December 30, 2011 at 2:35 am |
  17. God

    I'm pretty sure the Lions were playing the Chargers.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:34 am |
    • PraiseTheLard

      I thought the Lions were playing the Christians down at the old Coliseum...

      December 30, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  18. Charles Hubbard

    Tim Tebow promotes a company named in honor of the pagan goddess NIKE... the pagan goddess of victory worshipped for hundreds of years in Paganism.
    Tim Tebow also promotes products dealing with another religion... Christianity.
    In Christianity, we believe God's Word is true... and God's Word says not to even mention the names of other gods.
    So, why is Tim Tebow struggling?
    Because he has chosen to disobey God in order to promote the company honoring the name of the pagan goddess NIKE.
    Tim will be blessed by God when he gives up promoting NIKE.
    Christians are waiting to see how Tebow plays when he is truly blessed for honoring God only.

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

      Out of curiosity, could you tell me why your "god" couldn't make it's own holidays? Why'd it have to steal holidays from people who didn't even believe in it?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • jameser35

      So when Tebow begins practicing the "true form of Christianity" he will be as good of a quarterback as Tom Brady?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • The Real Chalres Hubbard

      trolling hard, go pick a fight with people who are dumb enough to play your game. Might I suggest a special ed class room.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • Dave

      Yes, I'm sure it's much easier to just dismiss the people who don't buy into your drug of choice and ask questions you're not prepared to answer as "trolls".

      December 30, 2011 at 2:46 am |
    • jameser35

      @the real Charles Hubbard

      It's ok to insult mentally handicapped children, but Tebow is off limits. Leave the special education students out of it! You really are a sick and cruel person. You should have stuck with the trolls comment. You really look like a good Christian now!!

      December 30, 2011 at 2:57 am |
  19. Dave

    Tebow's violating the very same "bible" he claims to believe in by showboating like that. Matthew 6:6.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:32 am |
    • Charles Hubbard

      Tim is violating God's Word in this area:
      Tim Tebow promotes a company named in honor of the pagan goddess NIKE... the pagan goddess of victory worshipped for hundreds of years in Paganism.
      Tim Tebow also promotes products dealing with another religion... Christianity.
      In Christianity, we believe God's Word is true... and God's Word says not to even mention the names of other gods.
      So, why is Tim Tebow struggling?
      Because he has chosen to disobey God in order to promote the company honoring the name of the pagan goddess NIKE.
      Tim will be blessed by God when he gives up promoting NIKE.
      Christians are waiting to see how Tebow plays when he is truly blessed for honoring God only.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Dave

      Careful with that dismissive "pagan" stuff. To a lot of people, you're the "pagan".

      December 30, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • Phillco

      God doesn't care about football and T.T. doesnt need to publically pray period.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  20. AnonTX

    I am a Tebow fan that believes nothing is off limits in comedy. If God doesn't have a sense of humor, I am in trouble. SNL did the Tebow thing and it was funny. This was not funny, and I don't think it made much sense really. Again, not caring if anyone is made fun of... it just wasn't funny. at all. painfully unfunny and it should have, could have been so much more funny. Who screws up a Tebow joke? IT COULD HAVE BEEN SO FUNNY!!!!!!

    December 30, 2011 at 2:32 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.