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. JohnQuest

    I really don't think Bill gives a Darn, just more money for him. The people threatening to cancel HBO don't watch his show anyway.

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

    Dear Tim T,

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.


    December 30, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • CJ

      You are one sick individual.
      You better hope there is no God because, if there is, you are so scr3wed

      December 30, 2011 at 8:17 am |
    • Growinginnumbers

      WELL said! Maher is a comedian and a well-read athiest as am I. He is not filled with hate only a 99% truth.(nothing is EVER 100% even in science). He is backed up with hard science and not hate borne of spewing fairy tales of a vengeful god. Please get real theists! You are living in a dark uninformed age making 2012 seem still an uninformed place in our history. Until we can grow out of the fear in organized religion and embrace science fully, we will still be a race of animals dancing around a fire awaiting the ridiculous that is printed in religious text. Take a person who has NO exposure to others or our literature, put the bible and a copy of Grimms Fairy tales in front of him and he will not be able to discern the fairy tales.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Tell it like it it. Thank you.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:45 am |
    • Believer

      Wow Growinginnumbers.

      You say nothing is 100% correct not even science, so I am guessing you believe science is 99% correct. I am sorry to let you down but science is all based on theory. Theory is not factual, therefore science is not factual. So yea science is not even 99% correct. You have a nice day now.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      What is your definition of 'fact'?

      “What are the facts? Again and again and again – what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what “the stars foretell,” avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable “verdict of history” – what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!”
      ― Robert A. Heinlein

      December 30, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Alex


      Wow Growinginnumbers.

      You say nothing is 100% correct not even science, so I am guessing you believe science is 99% correct. I am sorry to let you down but science is all based on theory. Theory is not factual, therefore science is not factual. So yea science is not even 99% correct. You have a nice day now.


      Amazing how you go from "science fact is found from scientific theory" to "theory is not fact and therefore false".

      If you really want to be the lame chump who argues nothing is fact, go join the nihlists. However, they won't abide by your religion. So why don't YOU have a nice day.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  3. bud

    I cancelled my HBO. When Bill makes fun of Muslims like he does everyone else (except liberal), I'll turn it back on. And if Bill ever says anything funny, I'll watch his show.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • agathokles

      How will you know? If you don't watch his show...

      December 30, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      You cancelled hbo, because of a single half hour show? Aren't you a genius.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • tallulah13



      Better call you cable company, bud. Maher's been mocking muslims for awhile now. I guess you didn't know that because you don't watch him, probably don't have HBO, and couldn't even be bothered to do your homework.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • claybigsby

      Bud, you are a RATARD.....Bill Maher makes fun of all religions.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • KC

      Are you kidding me bud? Bill takes on Islam quite regularily.



      December 30, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  4. Proof Reader

    "For all the FURRY aimed at Maher for the Tebow crack..." ? FURRY?

    December 30, 2011 at 7:27 am |
    • 30to30

      Tim is a big hero to squirrels.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • Fluffy, the gerbil of doom

      And us too.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  5. BobH

    .. from all the posts – yes – Tebow is fair game to criticism..(although Maher seems he is not open to ridicule on this subject). Seems Tebow is taking it all fairly well; in stride. It's not the Tebow criticsm which is drawing angry reactions – it's the profanity related to our God in that tweet.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:24 am |
    • 30to30

      Politely (more or less) debating this topic on CNN rather than firebombing editorial offices is what separates us from the Taliban.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  6. TheBlood

    Whenever Bill Maher opens his mouth and spews his hatred and lies it reminds me of an open grave with a rotting corpse inside.

    He has no clue.

    Nor do his blind followers who so vigorously inhale his words with their ears, energizing their hearts with the morsels of hatred Maher spews toward what they do not see or understand.

    Life is but a vapor. Pardon the pun.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • T BORED

      he has A clue, disagreements or hurt feelings be damned. he didn't even say anything that bad.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • billafu

      It's called a sense of humor. But of course most people who call themselves Christians seem to utterly lack one. At least about themselves / their own religion.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:31 am |
    • SCAtheist

      Everybody who disagrees with you is full of hate – yeah sure.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:48 am |
    • tallulah13


      That's some melodramatic prose you wrote there. All you had to say was that you don't think Maher is funny.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  7. Charlie

    Let's hope he Gets the Don Imus treatment

    December 30, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  8. BobH

    Of course Bill has the right to say what he wants, under our Freedoms. It's just sad that he feels he needs to defend himself and attack when others take up that same right to express THEIR points of view on his comments. At one time, I thought he WAS funny... now I just see him as an overly opiniated man who has unfortunately received too much airtime.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • Charlie

      Yes, those darn Nappy Headed Hoes.....

      December 30, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • billafu

      Define your terms please: "opiniated"

      December 30, 2011 at 8:34 am |
  9. You'll pay in the end, Pete Dominick.. Maher too

    Kids getting cancer (even yours) is never "funny", you sicko.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • Azrael

      The best reply to these kinds of comments you left is actually a bumper sticker I saw the other day:

      "It's your hell you burn in it"

      December 30, 2011 at 8:02 am |
  10. 30to30

    I don't particularly like mean people either, but when you are a public figure who attributes success to an invisible man in the sky (not any man in the sky, mind you, but YOUR particular brand), and you make public exhibitions of that attribution, you sort of invite this response when you fail. It's sort of the same problem with the "loving god" who throws hurricanes at schoolchildren. If he works in mysterious ways, then shut up about it.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • Gary

      So by your logic, the Jews invited Hitler's reaction to them?? Bill can make fun of whomever he wants. But there is a point when the bigot and intolerant side is shown and it becomes not just humor, but hate.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:03 am |
    • 30to30

      No, by my logic – which I think you get, but choose not to – if you make a public display of attributing success to god, then you are open to the observation that god caused your failure. That isn't the same as gassing 6 million people. Ask yourself, if you need hyperbole like you just used to make a point, do you really have one? (I mean, other than Bill being too crass and a bit mean, which he was).

      December 30, 2011 at 7:09 am |
    • The Bobinator

      Gary is a troll or a moron. Not sure which.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:10 am |
    • Gary

      The point is, it is not okay to spew bigoted hateful speech against one or a group you do not agree with. It starts with that and moves onto worse. Bill can make fun of whomever he wants, but it crossed over into hate. You never see this type of hate from intelligent, thought provoking comedians like John Stewart.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:14 am |
    • Gary

      Thanks Bob for so well illustrating the difference between a bigot like Maher and those who can intelligently debate ideas that they do not agree with, like John Stewart. Stewart would not spew the bigoted speech like Maher. Those that must sink to name calling and attacks rather than debate show their true self.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:23 am |
    • The Bobinator

      > Thanks Bob for so well illustrating the difference between a bigot like Maher and those who can intelligently debate ideas that they do not agree with, like John Stewart. Stewart would not spew the bigoted speech like Maher. Those that must sink to name calling and attacks rather than debate show their true self.

      I'm sorry, I'm calling a spade a spade. You responded with this nonsense to a post higher up.

      "So by your logic, the Jews invited Hitler's reaction to them?? Bill can make fun of whomever he wants. But there is a point when the bigot and intolerant side is shown and it becomes not just humor, but hate."

      You equated someone writing a critical message to the jews being killed. You are a troll or a moron. It's not hate, it's a statement of observable fact based on your own writing.

      The only way I can respond to such utter stupidity is to call it out for what it is.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:54 am |
  11. Rob

    CNN – 15 yard penalty for fumbling the story in the first sentence. 'Detroit Lions'?

    December 30, 2011 at 6:55 am |
  12. Jen

    Wishing Maher would make a sequel to "Religulous" where he skewers Buddhism, Hinduism and, I dunno, maybe Jainism? He didn't really cover those and as a Buddhist, I felt a little left out. Maybe we could get a pro football player to sit down in the full lotus post-touchdown. That'd get Maher's attention.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:53 am |
  13. P.Wright

    The problem with Maher's tweet is that he is NOT FUNNY!!! He's just angry. Even if I didn't agree with something, I will always admit when something is well done. Bill Maher's dry sense of humor is just dry not humorous.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:46 am |
    • The Bobinator

      How do you know he's angry? What an ill informed opinion.

      What you meant to say was "It made me angry, so therefore he must have been angry". Which is just plain stupid.

      The point here is that a few weeks ago, public news people were going on and on about Tebow's praying and how "if you're not a believer you will be when you see this." This is a reasonable and warrented satire on the whole thing.

      What makes people raw is that they made a stupid conclusion based on the performance of a sports team and when it failed spectacularly, someone called them on it.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  14. robert

    maher didnt make that comment for his ratings.....he really just is that much of an a– – hole.....and the people who threatened to cancel their hbo subscriptions because of it didn't do it for Tebow; they really just are that stupid...

    December 30, 2011 at 6:45 am |
  15. Gary

    Bill is a bigot who likes to represent himself as an intelligent man. He is no better than those other hate monger bigots like Rush Limbaugh, that feel they must attack and demean anyone that is not the same as them.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:40 am |
    • tim

      No, Bill is a comedian. Yes, he has opinions. Without them, he wouldn't have a show. Same with Rush. I don't see the point. If you don't like or agree with Bill you can not watch.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:48 am |
    • Gary

      He may also be a comedian, but he is a bigot. A closed minded intolerant person. That is the point. He may "act" like he is some enlightened person, but no better than any other hateful person spewing hateful words against a group they do not like.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:51 am |
    • The Bobinator

      He's a bigot because he makes fun of your baseless and silly ideas? Come on now.

      It'd be akin to calling me a bigot because I say the tea party is filled with morons. Which it is.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • Gary

      Bob, he is a bigot per websters. You may wish to read up.

      Bigot – a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:17 am |
    • The Bobinator

      > Bob, he is a bigot per websters. You may wish to read up. Bigot – a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

      Except that he's not being intolerant of Christianity, only some Christians. His message doesn't say anything about Christianity. His comment references the fools that were saying "Jesus is helping tebrow win games". Perhaps you should work on your reading comprehension.

      There are two factors that upset people in this message.

      A) The fact that Maher made light of Jesus. People get offended when their mystical God is insulted.

      B) The fact that Maher pointed out something really stupid for what it was, which was faith based.

      Neither are anti-christian.

      Here's an example of bigotry.
      "All Christians are morons and deserve nothing but our insults and scorn."

      It's not that hard to think you know.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  16. Bwaahaahaaa!

    I just hope poor Bill survives the "furry" aimed at him. Sounds painful.

    Geez, does anybody even proofread at CNN anymore?

    December 30, 2011 at 6:40 am |
    • Danny


      December 30, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  17. oneofthe53

    Maher is another progressive liberal-socialist who talks a big game, but has no credibility. Back up your talk Maher (the pig) and redistribute your wealth. We all know and you know as well that you have no talent and are severely over paid. If you have a problem with Tebow then challenge him to a 5 minute boxing match, but I forgot you are a coward; you can't walk the walk. You can only talk and talk and talk......

    December 30, 2011 at 6:37 am |
    • tim

      What makes you think Tebow can box or how that would prove anything?

      December 30, 2011 at 6:50 am |
    • The Bobinator

      This is how stupid people resolve conflicts.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:14 am |
    • Fluffy, the gerbil of doom

      Yeah, it's all about those testosterone levels isn't it. That will solve EVERYTHING. Beat em all to a pulp.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • tallulah13

      Maybe when you grow up, you'll finally realize that violence only breeds more violence.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:05 am |
  18. N

    Way to go Bill!

    December 30, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  19. RICK

    I just want to hear him make the same comments about Allah and his prophet, Mohammed. No guts, no glory, Bill.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:26 am |
    • Richard

      NO one in Hollywood has the guts to even mention Muslims in a bad light, never mind Allah. That's left up to Dutch cartoonists. The only REAL targets (as illustrated by nearly every villain in TV or movies) for Hollywood are white Anglo-Saxon males, preferably in the upper-income brackets!

      December 30, 2011 at 6:46 am |
    • Redspotz

      Don't forget the satirical cartoon image of Mohammed too, Bill. Go "all in"

      December 30, 2011 at 6:47 am |
    • Mark

      You just know this guy doesn't have the guts to do it. He's the feces on Salman Rushdie's shoe.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • Fluffy, the gerbil of doom

      BS Richard. EVERY criminal in a Hollywood movie is "swarthy", non-white, fat, tatted, or somehow OTHER than a "nice" looking young white person. What planet do you live on ?

      December 30, 2011 at 9:17 am |
    • SeanNJ

      None of you watched "Religulous" obviously...

      December 30, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • tallulah13

      There have been a ton of similar comments, Sean. These buffoons are on the internet already; how hard could it be to google "Maher mocks muslims"? That's what I did and found plenty of examples. \

      December 30, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • claybigsby

      Hey Rick....wake the f up, he makes fun of all the brainwashed faiths in the world.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  20. wellnow

    The thing about the athiests of Maher's type that bothers me is that they act like they are sooo smart and the people who have faith in something are just mindless idiots. I see athieism as terribly base and...like Chaka Khan says...."you ain't got no kind of feel inside."

    December 30, 2011 at 6:25 am |
    • sean burns

      Wellnow: It's not that atheists THINK they're so smart- they just look that way next to the idiots that think Jesus rode dinosaurs, the earth is 6,000 years old, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:31 am |
    • geedee

      Please spell atheist correctly. A-t-h-e-i-s-t. Otherwise it does indeed make you seem like a mindless idiot.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:32 am |
    • wellnow

      See what I mean.....You folks are certainly an arrogant lot.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:39 am |
    • MIrosal

      @ WEllnow .. if your 12 year old were still setting a place at the table for his "imaginary" friend to join him for dinner, what would you honestly say to him?

      December 30, 2011 at 6:49 am |
    • tim

      It's not that atheists are just smart, they also live better and are happier. If you want to amuse yourself, look at the most religious areas of the US and the least. Then, check out the education levels, quality of life levels and you will see a clear trend that spreads across the world. The more you learn, the less likely you are likely to be religious. It's a fact. Sorry, there is no argument.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • tallulah13

      I guess it's okay when christians accuse atheists of all sorts of untrue things, then damn them to hell. We certainly get a lot of that on this site. It's amazing how much anger comes my way because I require proof to believe in something supernatural, like a god. It troubles me that people try control the behaviors of others by evoking the power of a being for which there is no proof.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • claybigsby

      too bad Maher is not an atheist but agnostic.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • The Bobinator

      > too bad Maher is not an atheist but agnostic.

      I think he's an agnostic atheist actually.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
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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.