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. ReligionExplained


    December 30, 2011 at 6:16 am |
  2. Tomtom

    I'm just saying live and let live. Where's all the tolerance that is so politically correct? And what has secularism does for the country the last 20 years besides produced a generation that who wont even look up from their smartphones or Ipods long enough to join the human race. Even the cynic worships something.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:15 am |
    • Vynn, Milton WA

      I don't think that has anything to do with secularism. It has everything to do with Christian parents who buy their kids those smartphones and IPads instead of getting them an I love Jesus T-shirt.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  3. Better Editor than any of these tool bags!!!

    What absolute tool! Where does CNN find these editors. The easiest research you can do is find the right team the Broncos played and he couldn't even do that right. Where is the editor-in-chief? Apply to CNN, good pay, and anyone can do it!

    December 30, 2011 at 6:15 am |
  4. Amom

    Bill talks about Satan as though he is real. Does Bill believe that Satan exists?

    December 30, 2011 at 6:15 am |
    • greg


      December 30, 2011 at 6:23 am |
  5. .

    Maher doesn't care if people think he's a jerk. It's good publicity for his HBO show that only gets noticed when he says something really, really stupid.

    What do you expect for a guy who was essentially raised by Don Imus?


    December 30, 2011 at 6:13 am |
  6. jacg50

    Maher is not a comedian.....he is a nasty man. Being gross and saying nasty things at others expense is not being funny.....just change the channel and stop paying for HBO. Call the people that pay for him to be on TV and don't buy their products. It works every time. When he one day stands before a righteous God he will see how wrong he was.....

    December 30, 2011 at 6:12 am |
    • Amom

      Wouldn't it be amazing to see him have an encounter w/ the Living God? To see his heart healed and to see him share the message of reconciliation in Jesus Christ? Awesome.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:19 am |
  7. seriouslybud

    Bill Maher is to the left what Rush Limbaugh and the rest are to the right. Extremest who don't really care about their country, just themselves. They will do and say whatever they can to make themselves a buck and screw everybody else. It is a shame that there are conversations and shows dedicated to people like this as it only serves continue to polarize our political discussion. The nation would be so much better off if we put Bill Maher, Joy Behar, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the extremists into a bunker to scream at one another and tested a new weapon on it.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:07 am |
  8. Super-D

    If a young kid has an imaginary friend, it's cute. If a grown person has an imaginary friend, it's just sad. I would love to see humanity outgrow fairy tales, but there's no way that's going to happen in my lifetime.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:03 am |
  9. Vynn, Milton WA

    As a ball player Tebow is rather mediocre. As a comedian Maher is one of the greats. And you know what's funny? Maher is the ONLY reason I have HBO. The Broncos are NOT the reason I have ESPN. The Broncos are far more likely to dump Tebow than HBO is to dump Maher.

    You Christians are getting about as touchy as a jihad of Muslims on "Draw Mohamed Day". (Bill, you can steal that one if you like) Tebow needs to get a closet. Jesus says so.

    And if I was Jesus, I wouldn't be helping the Broncos. I'd be a Saints fan. But he's funny like that.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:03 am |
    • jacg50

      The LORD will not be mocked. I will take a mediocre football player any day over a nasty so called comedian.....

      December 30, 2011 at 6:08 am |
    • Vynn, Milton WA

      It's not your imaginary lord that's being mocked. Its you and your beliefs that have been mocked.

      I've always said it, put the Jesus story on anyone else, say Bob, and the Christians would mock Bob relentlessly as a fake and laugh at the impossibility of his claim. But Jesus...oh, that's real.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:20 am |
    • Dee G.

      Well said, Vynn!

      December 30, 2011 at 6:27 am |
  10. Tomtom

    I'm not a church goer, but I don't knock people of faith. I've come to the belief that trying to explain faith to an atheist is like trying to explain art to an engineer. I'm not knocking engineers. We need artists and engineers and both can co-exist.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:57 am |
    • Copenhagun

      Are you kidding me Tom? I'm an ex Christian and I don't need a theist to explain their faith to me. I used to try to do that myself. Now that I'm an atheist... well, I'm like you in a sense, live and let live, but the difference between us is I have no interest in trying to explain my atheism to anyone, let alone a theist who like myself, most likely, wouldn't understand.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:02 am |
    • Super-D

      Faith is easy to explain. It's what people have when they're not smart enough to grasp reality.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:04 am |
    • Vynn, Milton WA

      Funny...I'm an atheist, engineer and an artist.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:26 am |
  11. BillF

    I am a Chrisian. I strongly believe in Jesus AND the Bible. But I can't stand Tebow's showboating. Jesus said to pray in secret. Not make a big show of it – so Tebow is going directly against Jesus! If he really wanted to thank him, he can say a prayer to himself as he walks off. I do not think Tebow is a hero. The big knee-on-the-field pageant is just that. Jesus decried the Pharisees for the same thing way back when. I don't believe Jesus is affecting the outcome of football games, either. He has much more important things to take care of. And, by the way, Maher (who I am no fan of), is dead on about Christmas. Sorry, folks, but 12/25 is NOT JC's birthday, and pretty much nothing about it is right. Many people admit it, choose to look the other way, and then get upset when someone points it out. Likewise, Tebow puts himself out there, and he becomes a target. Pride is before a fall...

    December 30, 2011 at 5:55 am |
    • kathryne lee

      and you would know wouldn't you

      December 30, 2011 at 5:57 am |
    • jacg50

      Anyone with any sense knows that Dec. 25th is not the actually date of Jesus' birth but it is the date we choose to honor His birth.....There is nothing wrong with Tebow choosing to honoring His Lord. I don't think the LORD minds one bit. I more problem with the showboating and taunting of players at the end of a touchdown and you aren't complaining about that.....and neither is Maher. He doesn't complain about players using the "F" word and taking the Lord's name in vain.....I will take a player like Tebow any day. Leave the boy alone and go after some of the nasty players if you will .....

      December 30, 2011 at 6:18 am |
    • Dee G.

      @jacg50~ Of course Bill M. doesn't object to taking "your" lord's name in vain, since it is just that YOUR lord, not his, nor mine, either, for that matter.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:31 am |
  12. Allahauctionfreefreefree

    First off Eric Marapodi is a horrible writer. The first paragraph he has it all wrong. It was not the Detroit Lions kicking Denvers ass on Christmas Eve it was Buffalo, which is mentioned on the second quote of Mahre. Which demonstrates to me that Eric has no idea about sports and shouldn't even write about it. Don't these idiots have a proof reader. Oh yeah Eric is the Co- Editor. Which means he aint much of an editor either! God is not behind Tebows magical comebacks. Tim is.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:50 am |
    • Chuck in Jasper, Ga.

      He wasn't writing about sports. He was writing about a tweet from Bill Maher and the reaction it received.

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

      Careful now, Allahauctionfreefreefree... you might incur the "furry" of Eric Marapodi.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:26 am |
  13. Mike S

    Don't you fluffy faitheads get it? You can thank god for a win but who do you blame when Tebow loses?
    You can thank god for saving one baby in a plane crash but who do you blame for the other 200 dead?

    December 30, 2011 at 5:49 am |
    • kathryne lee

      You don't AH

      December 30, 2011 at 5:52 am |
  14. Justin

    Hey Eric Marrapodi – The Broncos played the Buffalo Bills, not the Detriot Lions.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:48 am |
  15. R Weaer

    Who is Bill Maher? How do you pronounce his name? I know who Tim Tebow is, QB of the Broncos, I know how to pronounce his name. But, don't know Bill Maher. Is he a celibraty? Does he have an audiamce?

    December 30, 2011 at 5:46 am |
    • Crazy Sanity

      did you finish grade skool? Did you ever lern to spel?

      December 30, 2011 at 5:48 am |
    • Vynn, Milton WA

      Obviously, you don't have HBO.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:06 am |
    • .

      Well, Vynnnn OBVIOUSLY not everyone cares about HBO.

      Get over it.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:16 am |
    • jacg50

      People are better off without HBO......

      December 30, 2011 at 6:21 am |
    • Vynn, Milton WA

      Oh, come on DOT...that was funny. Is there a commandment against laughing I wasn't aware of?

      December 30, 2011 at 6:22 am |
  16. kathryne lee

    Another reason why I do not subscribe to HBO. People have the right to pick and choose who they listen to and I guess Maher has a following. How lucrative could it be for HBO that they would jeopardize their subscription rate for a piece dreck like Maher?

    December 30, 2011 at 5:42 am |
    • kathrynecantspellmyname

      Sounds like you're a fan of the bachelorette.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:47 am |
    • kathryne lee

      not really kathrynecantspellyourname. not into "reality" shows just like i am not into mean spirited, ugly comedians. they don't make me laugh.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:51 am |
    • kathrynecantspellmyname

      Mean spirited? Just like how you called Stephanie a fat a s s atheist? Look at yourself before you judge others. Maybe you can read into it when you open that bible that has been in your drawer for the past 10 years untouched.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:56 am |
    • kathryne lee

      i don't read the bible and yea my a s s is fat so i can use the metaphor if i want. not calling anyone anything i am not. just calling a spade a spade. get a life and give others the chance to voice their feelings just like you.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:59 am |
    • kathrynecantspellmyname

      Got any pics? I love fat a s s sassy catholic girls. They tend to be the freaky ones.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:00 am |
    • kathryne lee

      geez you can figure out anything can you? now I am a catholic because I don't read the bible? you don't know much about Catholics do you? they read the bible just like all Christians. but that does not make me a catholic

      December 30, 2011 at 6:03 am |
  17. George G.

    I would like to see a non-christian player prays in the field to whatever god he believes in and see how the American public reacts to it.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:39 am |
    • cosmicsnoop

      Well, there is only one God so the religion is really irrelevant since they all worship the same one. Evangelicals are about the only ones who are going to pray in front of everyone and shove their religion down your throat anyway. Most others keep it to themselves.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:47 am |
    • cosmicsnoop

      Only one god? Where have you been? Zeus, Horus, Dionysus, Buddah, Allah, Mohammed, etc. They are all different gods.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:49 am |
    • kathryne lee

      none would notice because they don't pray. geez

      December 30, 2011 at 5:55 am |
  18. Stephanie

    u christians mad.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:35 am |
    • kathryne lee

      just like you would be if someone picked on your atheiest fat a s s

      December 30, 2011 at 5:44 am |
    • DeWayne

      When you lie dieing who ya gonna call.....the ghost buster's ?

      December 30, 2011 at 5:44 am |
    • Dogen

      When I lay dying I'll call someone who can help. My family, the paramedics... you know, real people.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
  19. marc2724

    maher is not funny, never was, thinks he is more intelligent than anyone else, wouldnt watch is show ever, never have and never will. not because of his tweet but because he isnt funny, witty or anything else he thinks he is. I am sure if those type of comments were made about minorities he would have to pay the price. wasnt he arrested so time ago for beating up his girlfriend, real tough guy.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:34 am |
    • marc2725

      He's not funny and you have never watched his show and never will? Wow that's not hypocritical. Your comment screams " I'VE BEEN HOMESCHOOLED!"

      December 30, 2011 at 5:43 am |
    • kathryne lee

      totally agree. i tried watching religiousity and was so bored, i fell asleep

      December 30, 2011 at 5:45 am |
    • Chuck in Jasper, Ga.

      He obviously is much more intelligent than you. He knows how to write a proper sentence, spell, and punctuate properly. Who cares if "you" think he is funny or not?

      December 30, 2011 at 5:50 am |
    • Dogen

      A quick read of his Wikipedia page, and a Google search, say no. Bill Maher was never arrested for beating up anyone. Weird that you apparently made that up, though!

      December 30, 2011 at 5:53 am |
    • Vynn, Milton WA

      "wasnt he arrested so time ago for beating up his girlfriend, real tough guy."

      No. That was Mel Gibson...you know...the guy that made the movie "The Passion". The Christian actor and mealy mouthed anti-semetic drunk.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:12 am |
    • setnommarih

      Maher is a realist and if he beat up his girl friend, he had a reason

      December 30, 2011 at 6:12 am |
  20. tonyleonx

    It's an atheist. What else could you expect from an atheist. the odd part of all this is that atheists seem to aim more at real christians...that makes me just power-up my faith. But anyway, Tim Tebow. You just keep doing what you do if you love it and do not offend anyone. You are giving a lesson to all this satan-controlled atheists and a much bigger lesson to us Christians.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:29 am |
    • Leontony

      Matthew 6:6. Funny how an atheist knows more about the bible than you do.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:41 am |
    • aarrgghh

      Atheists are controlled by Satan?? I think you are misinformed, Satan is a catholic mythological being, and part of the same book in which you find your imaginary Jesus friend. Atheists do not believe in either one of those beings as they are part of the same myth... get it? I didn't think so

      December 30, 2011 at 5:42 am |
    • setnommarih

      the only ones controlled are the christians, no reason just blind faith

      December 30, 2011 at 6:14 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.