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. Hiruu

    F#$$% Tebow, and the false hype, but I guess it fits in perfectly with the fake virtues he represents. Sorry, but just as how players with in-your-face swagger annoy, so does in-your-face dudley doorightness. Tebow is a good athlete and he provided an okay spark for a struggling team, but he's not going to hold his job for long...NFL teams will study film, and he simply lacks the necessary talents and skills to play the position.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:29 am |
  2. Satan

    Stop it people !!! There is no such thing as the invisible man in the sky !!!

    December 30, 2011 at 5:29 am |
    • Crazy Sanity

      Yes, there is, and he will drink from the flying teapot that orbits the sun. This tea will be poured for the invisible sky-daddy by the Flying Spaghetti Monster using one of his many delicious tenta'cles.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:40 am |
  3. justsaying

    I don't get the Tebow hate....maybe people see in him what's lacking in their lives so they want to bring him down to make themselves feel better?
    Maher's just happy that he's on HBO and he can say stuff like that instead of on ABC where he was fired for his Sept 11 comments.
    I've never found him to be funny, I guess that he appeals to a certain audience...but I can never take seriously a man who's had a relationship with a chick named Superhead, a known groupie ho.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:21 am |
  4. T BORED

    Umm the Detroit Lions beat the crap out of Denver 2 months ago, NOT xmas even, we were beating the crap out of San Diego that day...Maher has it right, the Fighting Tebows were getting shelled by the Buffalo Bills. Please to be getting 'it' right mr writerman before posting for the world to see with your name stamped on it. I knew that lesson in high school journalism.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:13 am |
  5. anthony stark

    It's Maher. What do you expect? I didn't really think it was that funny though. Tebow's just too likable.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:11 am |
  6. Child of God

    Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

    Galations 6:7

    December 30, 2011 at 5:10 am |
    • anthony stark

      Nobody ever quotes the verses about raping virgins for 50 shekels. Oh, and God is a poopyhead.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:14 am |
  7. charms

    what a dull article. Maher isn't even funny. I'm not a Tebow fan but he's already more famous and probably richer than Maher at the moment.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:09 am |
  8. rtbd

    1 – CNN is a national news space. Try reading your work before publishing. "Furry-" really?
    2 – funny that comedians think that their job is to push the envelope – that just means that they're not good comedians. I'ts like when journalists say that they have an "obligation" to protect/advise the public – by what authority? A journalists' only obligation is to tell the truth. Get over yourself – you're not that important.
    3 – only the 45k people at the staduim are forced against their will to watch the "horrific" act of a 5-second prayer on one knee – if the media doesn't like it, they shouldn't show it. The media created this fiasco, Tebow didn't
    4 – if I replaced "Jesus" in these tweets and blogs with a picture of your mom, would that be offensive?

    December 30, 2011 at 5:09 am |
  9. Banda

    CNN is rediculous. Fox here we come

    December 30, 2011 at 5:04 am |
  10. Dale

    Bill Maher should say something against Islam and Mohammad and see how much flax he gets from Muslim groups.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:54 am |
    • charms

      you betcha he won't! That;s the thing. These clowns can poke fun at Christians anyday but when it comes to Islam, they are the most Politically Correct folks you;ve ever seen. Talk about comedy lol

      December 30, 2011 at 5:12 am |
    • xen1313

      Obviously you need to watch his movie Religous, before saying anything more. He has his 15 minutes about Islam.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:17 am |
  11. gupsphoo

    You better start praising the Christian hero Tim Tebow!!!

    Or else you're an immoral SOB who would be going to hell!!!!

    December 30, 2011 at 4:54 am |
    • Crazy Sanity

      So .. just to be clear ... anyone who ISN'T a "christian" is immoral .. is that your point?

      December 30, 2011 at 4:57 am |
  12. Aaron

    I am always struck by the lack of humility and respect from "both sides" in the comments. Why can't we disagree without being mean, and without insulting?

    December 30, 2011 at 4:54 am |
    • Amom

      Normally I would agree w/ you but in this case we are talking about Bill Maher. He is one mean and spiteful man. Funny thing is, though, Jesus loves him as much as he loves Tim T. Bill and Tim are equal in that both have a choice to make about the one who claims to be the Saviour of the world. Tim has made his choice, so, look out Bill because Tim is probably praying for you and the prayers of a righteous man availeth much.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:58 am |
    • YeahRight

      Ya see Amom saying lunatic rubbish like that is just the kinda thing Bill goes after, because it's stupid, it's steeped in ignorance, and it makes you sound like a fool.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:58 am |
  13. GoFaster58

    It's amazing that so many people take comedians so seriously. Maybe what Bill said was wrong and out of place but after all, he is a comedian. Instead of boycotting his show I'm sure the ratings just went up because of the controversy. He'll laugh all the way to the bank.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:50 am |
    • mfhpr

      "wrong and out of place"??? I think not. It's in the perfect place...America. Land of the free – to say what you want, make fun of what you want, believe in what you want...

      December 30, 2011 at 4:56 am |
    • Guest

      Thing is, Maher is not really a comedian. He is a political commentator with biting wit. He is only funny to a particular group - liberals. I am an atheist but do not find Maher funny on any issue. He is 90% political and simply bashes people who oppose his politics. He is no more a comedian than Michael Moore, with whom he certainly shares a common political viewpoint. He doesn't get a free pass for claiming to be a "comedian" with boorish and insenstive remarks. Did Imus get a free pass for his comments about the Rutgers women's BB team? No, primarily because it was personal and crass what he said. The liberal media, however, will give Maher a pass because they share his political philosophy.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:14 am |
    • xen1313

      Actually, Rutgers canned him for his remarks. HBO is well within their rights to do the same. But they won't, as this is what he does and how he does it. Obviously he brings money into HBO, otherwise as a business, they could not run his show.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:21 am |
  14. Brian

    Only problem with the writer of this story is he got his facts wrong. Bill Maher is not an atheist an atheist does not believe there is a God. Maher believes there is a God but does not believe in Religions.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:48 am |
    • Daniel J. T

      Not sure where you get your info, Brian, but Maher certainly does NOT believe there is a god. He simply does not know. Just like everyone else on the planet, most of them are just afraid to admit it.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:55 am |
  15. alfranken

    I'm not much of a football fan but baseball players have been making their faith obvious all lot for a very long time.


    December 30, 2011 at 4:45 am |
  16. Aristootle

    Can you feel all the LOVE from the Christians in this thread? Man I'm so glad Jefferson gave us separation of church and state, if he hadn't these heathens would burn down HBO because Bill made fun of Tebow catching the real odds in life. I am almost ashamed FOR some of the people who posted in this thread.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:45 am |
  17. tim

    Jerry, are you suggesting that anyone who speaks out against religion should be banned by the government? Wow. I know a great country just for you called Iran. You'd love it.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:40 am |
  18. concernedwiththis

    Such good, kind-hearted religious followers in this thread. LOVE THY NEIGHBOR?

    December 30, 2011 at 4:39 am |
  19. tim

    The reason Bill makes fun of him is because that is what he gets paid to do. Because Christianity is dying out and no longer has the power to murder people like it used to, it shall be ridiculed by the media until it becomes as relevant as Greek mythology. Someone wrote that atheists get angry when they see a nativity scene in a public square. That's called separation of church and state and we have our wisest president, Jefferson to thank. He set that ball in motion to stop the tyranny of the church and deserves the credit along with all people who followed his wisdom since. That's what makes America great. We are scientists, dreamers, inventors and we can do it all without the totalitarian church watching our every word.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:39 am |
    • concernedwiththis

      here here!

      December 30, 2011 at 4:40 am |
    • Max

      Tim! I love your post! Very cheerful! 🙂 Thank you.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:48 am |
    • mfhpr

      Very well said. It's too bad people don't want to hear and believe this truth. Bottom line: Believe in religion, live with religion, just don't push it on me or publicly display it. Your church and home are your temples. I believe in beautiful naked women. What would the pushers say about me displaying a collection of relative portraits in public? The freak show must go. In god we trust is not the American way. It is the way of some, not all. Freedom is the American way. Freedom from religion is no exception.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:52 am |
  20. Jerry

    Was anyone expecting anything else from this atheist, big mouth moron!?

    Is he really a comedian? He should be banned and his citizenship taken away.

    Mr. President, here's a mandate for you.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Max

      Have you gotten your ticket to Iran yet? You'll want to convert to their religion, if you haven't already, but they're down with your kind of government.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:49 am |
    • mfhpr

      Do you live in America or China? Get a clue.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:53 am |
    • Crazy Sanity

      I'm waiting for Jerry to strap on his backpack filled with C-4 .. head to the HBO offices in NYC and "give them what for" ... yea, that will show 'em won't it Jerry? Besides, I can't think of a better initiation for Jerry into the world of extremism. Jerry .. I say GO FOR IT!!

      December 30, 2011 at 4:55 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.