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. Max

    I love Bill! To Cnn: For all the furry 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. < It's fury.. not furry... I don't think the religious were throwing teddy bears.... but that would be cool if they were. I love teddy bears... which are furry, not full of fury.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:36 am |
    • Rick

      Uh maybe they were typing so quickly they didn't realize that they punched the key twice? Also, when I see a typo I think where is the incorrect letter that was typed in relation to the correct letter on the keyboard and give the person a break if it's in the same vicinity. Now if the person uses 'their' when the proper use should have been 'they're,' then it becomes an issue of a lack of education.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  2. janie

    My Muslim husband had a very insightful comment, "just like most bullies, Bill Maher is a coward at heart, he would never insult the Muslim faith because he knows heads would roll!" I wonder why he feels so comfortable taking Christians for a ride?

    December 30, 2011 at 4:35 am |
    • Max

      He has insulted Muslims. I loved his movie. I'm pretty sure threatening to harm people if they insult your religion is a step more bully worthy than just saying things at people.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:38 am |
    • pablo

      Because Christians believe in peace and goodwill. They don't murder those who don't share their beliefs.

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

      What a load of crap. Muslim extremists are as full of sh@# and delusional in their beliefs. As they chop off heads in videos and Tebow Tebows for idiotic sports points, they are both misusing their religions.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:13 am |
    • MIrosal

      "heads will roll" huh? Yea, peaceful religion my a$$ .... Your hubby's 'prophet' consumated a marrige to a NINE YEAR OLD!!! your hubby believes in the words of a ped-o-ph-ile. NICE role model he has there. Now is my head going to roll as well?

      December 30, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  3. ki ll mAh er

    there should be a vote, whether to crucify maher upside down hollywood blvd or to behead him. if no one will miss him, it can not be said a crime to place.LOL

    December 30, 2011 at 4:32 am |
    • Crazy Sanity

      Do you want him crucified because he insulted your faith?

      December 30, 2011 at 4:36 am |
    • TBaggersSuk

      Go burn witches mouth breather. Ever hear of freedom of religion or freedom of speech? Funny how you guys defend those rights as long as it's for people that believe and think the way you do. All these good descent Christians on here calling for a mans crucifixion is sad. Judge not lest ye be judged? Turn the other cheek? Thou shalt not kill? Oh I forgot religious people pick and choose what parts of the bible they follow and what parts are ok to ignore. My son disrespected me so I am going to take him into the town square and stone him to death tomorrow. Why? Because the bible tells me too!!!

      December 30, 2011 at 4:40 am |
  4. scott

    Using god to sell football and make yourself some money. I guess we're not that much different than the Muslims after all.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:30 am |
  5. pablo

    Maher is not a comedian. Comedians are funny, Maher is not. He is basically a vulgar, crass, uncouth, mean person who casts aspersions toward good decent people. I hope people don't waste their time watching his trash on TV.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:29 am |
    • (required)


      December 30, 2011 at 4:40 am |
  6. Mike D

    Bill Maher is a self righteous, self worshipping moron.. always has been, always will be. He built his career on tearing down anyone that has a differing view of him, especially in matters of religion, so it really shouldn't be a shock to anyone that he is going after anyone who expresses their faith. This is where people and the courts have gotten confused about the First Amendment right... it's there to protect the right to peaceful discourse and expression of opinion, it's not there to protect inflamatory rhetoric the garbage that comes out of Maher. I'm not a Christian, not do I practice any organized faith, but I'd just as soon as cut off my own tongue than berate and badger people about peacefully expressing their faith when it doesn't impact me.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:29 am |
    • xen1313

      Well there's another part of the first amendment that is also forgotten. The Right to not listen. People can say whatever they wish, as long as it doesn't bring immediate harm to others (i.e. yelling fire in a crowded theater). And the free speech doesn't have to be peaceful, otherwise we would never have the phrase "diplomacy at the end of a gun". Case and point, I can stand on the street corner and say things like, we should shoot anyone crossing the borders without proper papers, it's cheaper than a plane ticket, and I'm well within my rights as a citizen to do so. Now do I beleive that, nothing close to that extreme, but that is another thread topic. Heck, you don't even need to be a person now to have free speech, as money is a form of speech. Stop with the Nanny state!!! "Nanny State please make the person stop saying things I don't like to hear..." is what I get from most of these comments.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:01 am |
  7. † is THE way.

    † is THE way.
    † is THE way.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:26 am |
  8. Greg Powell

    Please read http://www.FindingLifeInJesus.com

    December 30, 2011 at 4:20 am |
    • Ron

      Please read

      December 30, 2011 at 4:39 am |
  9. Jim Seeley

    I'm just glad Tebow isn't a follower of Hare Krishna – although that might be worth paying to see.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:18 am |
  10. bigfoot

    And the culture wars go on....

    December 30, 2011 at 4:16 am |
  11. lynnej from nc

    I'm trying to figure out what took Mr. Maher this long to go after him. Anybody with a brain and knew how Mr Maher felt when it came to religion that it was only a matter of time before he did so. It shouldn't be a shock to anyone.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:14 am |
    • Isaac

      Read the end of the article. He mentioned Tebow in one of his New Rules segments at the end of his show months ago. This isn't the first time, and probably won't be the last time.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:15 am |
    • Rick

      It's simple, Maher had to wait until Tebow was really down and in the middle of a blow out in order to kick him.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:26 am |
  12. Tim

    It's spelled "fury," not "furry." But you know that because you're AN EDITOR. Christ.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:08 am |
  13. flarnkingsgargle

    I love how Maher just spouts off cause he knows all the religious people will get their panties in a bunch.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:05 am |
    • Isaac

      Me too! It's hilarious watching the sheep freak out

      December 30, 2011 at 4:09 am |
    • Dennis610

      Sheep freak out? You mean like atheists do when they see a nativity set? Lol

      December 30, 2011 at 4:11 am |
    • Isaac

      I couldn't care less about a nativity set. I mean sheep freaking out like they do when they see an atheist billboard around the holiday season....

      December 30, 2011 at 4:12 am |
    • Dennis610

      You mean like atheists who find "Merry Christmas" offensive and demand the use of politically correct "happy holidays"?
      Or was it like the atheists who get offended by a cross marking a grave in a veterans cemetery?

      Atheists are among the thinnest skinned of people, also among the first to throw stones...

      December 30, 2011 at 4:15 am |
    • Isaac

      Nope... don't care about that either. And it's people of other faiths that lead the charge for the Happy Holidays or Seasons Greetings and not atheists. Atheists don't really care what you say around the season of make believe since it's obvious to anyone who's done any bit of studying that it's all myths and fairy tales. But hey to each his own, don't really care. Got anything else you'd like to be completely wrong about?

      December 30, 2011 at 4:20 am |
    • LinSea

      He's nothing but a bigot. I don't know who is more pathetic, Maher, or the people who idolize him.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:25 am |
    • Ron

      What does Santa Claus Christmas have to do with religion? I don't care about Merry Christmas or crosses. People who are religious, but not christian, are the ones who demand Happy Holidays. Get your stereotypes right will you!

      December 30, 2011 at 4:42 am |
  14. Greg Powell

    Real Christians love people like Bill Maher, no matter how hateful they are to us. We love them not because we're such swell fellows, but because, in spite of our own sinfulness, Jesus has poured His love into our hearts. We know that we're no better than Bill Maher or any other mean, bitter, hate-filled person. The only difference between me and a pitiful little closed-minded coward like Bill Maher is that somehow I recognized my own selfish sinfulness and cried out to the Savior for rescue. The answer, Bill, is to see the monster in the mirror and then cry out to the holy God for mercy and salvation and transformation. He loves you because He made you in His image. But He hates your ugly sinfulness and wants you to be saved from it. Please give your heart to Jesus. He's your only hope...

    December 30, 2011 at 4:03 am |
    • Isaac

      hooray for myths and fairy tales!!

      December 30, 2011 at 4:07 am |
    • bigfoot

      The only difference between you and Bill Maher is that HE is not a hypocrite.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:15 am |
    • T

      And if we don't, we will be burned in hellfire for all eternity. Yep that's love.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:19 am |
    • Leia Organa

      But...Obi-wan is our only hope.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:41 am |
    • xen1313

      The answer, Bill, is to see the monster in the mirror and then cry out to the holy God for mercy and salvation and transformation. He loves you because He made you in His image.

      So basically you are saying that God is a monster??? Or God must be as much of a sinner as we are? This line is always fun, because if we were made in his image, why does everyone look different? Or why are there females at all? Must be God is a hermaphrodite? There are so many questions one book can not answer...

      December 30, 2011 at 5:12 am |
    • Greg Powell

      xen1313 said, "So basically you are saying that God is a monster??? Or God must be as much of a sinner as we are? This line is always fun, because if we were made in his image, why does everyone look different? Or why are there females at all? Must be God is a hermaphrodite? There are so many questions one book can not answer..." Hmmm.... I honestly don't know whether I'm dealing with someone who is just trying to be funny or someone without even a rudimentary awareness of classic theology. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you are not just a bored goofball. I'll assume that you're a product of an emerging culture that has been robbed of basic theological education. So here's the deal. No biblical Christian anywhere believes that to be made in God's image has anything to do with physical appearance. God is spirit, and He is personal. So He made us in His personal, spiritual image, the spiritual image of personhood, meaning that we think and feel and make decisions, we are self-aware, we have a sense of morality, justice, right and wrong. We are spiritual, personal beings who will live forever. This is what it means to be made in the image of God. And no, sin is not a part of the image of God. Sin is not even an essential part of what it means to be human. Sin is a spiritual cancer that will not go with us to heaven. Sin's power was defeated at the cross of Christ, because forgiveness is always greater than transgression. Sin's presence will be forever terminated when we are finally fully cleansed by the holy Presence of Christ Himself.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  15. Breanna

    Because if there's one person in the world who can't even begin to laugh off criticism from the uptight contingent, it's Bill Maher. He has no experience in this matter and has even been photoshopped-er photographed-weeping by some tabloid owned by that Murdoch fellow.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:02 am |
  16. Dennis610

    Maher is a tool. When he has done as much for others as Tebow has Ill give a damn what he has to say. That goes for Obama too.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:01 am |
    • Isaac

      Yeah Obama totally belongs in this conversation......

      December 30, 2011 at 4:11 am |
    • Ron

      I don't think Bill lies awake at night caring what Dennis610 thinks of him, so don't worry!

      December 30, 2011 at 4:44 am |
  17. JGorsk

    They were getting destroyed by my Buffalo Bills not the Lions. Correct that.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:58 am |
  18. Peter Griffin

    Oh my god, who the hell cars?

    December 30, 2011 at 3:56 am |
    • Glenn Quagmire

      "Cars" Just how many Pawtucket beers have you had Peter? Giggity!

      December 30, 2011 at 4:01 am |
  19. Greg Powell


    December 30, 2011 at 3:49 am |
    • Ron


      December 30, 2011 at 4:45 am |
    • Greg Powell

      Ron, in answer to your question, God actually WILL heal amputees! Read 1 Corinthians 15. I hope this encourages you.

      December 31, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  20. GrowUp

    @Flipper. Wow–you must be a really bitter and angry soul. Try to find some joy and happiness in your life. Being nice to others is a good place to start.

    December 30, 2011 at 3:39 am |
    • Ron

      You don't have to be religious to be kind to others

      December 30, 2011 at 4:46 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37
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.