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. Chris

    Ah Bill, way to liven up an otherwise dead news week.

    As an aside, I love when people claim it takes "depth" or "intelligence" to have faith.

    Little kids have "faith" that Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy are all real.

    When they grow up, sometimes they have "faith" that God'n'jesus are real.

    Far as I'm concerned I don't see a difference. There's as much evidence that Cthulu is real as there is for God.
    All it takes is one book, right?

    Faith is another word for gullible.

    You've been brainwashed into maintaining a new version of your childhood imaginary friend. Only this time the church says he has absolute power over you in the afterlife, and in order to get on his good side, you have to do whatever the church tells you.

    Yeah... "Faith".

    December 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  2. TiredOfWhiners

    Freedom of Speech... nuff said.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • GrowUp

      Freedom of speech, thought, belief and non-belief. Unless, of course, you want to live in a land run by the Taliban of any religion.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  3. Tony Smith


    December 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  4. pvt joker

    When Bill has a picture of the Prophet Mohammad on his show...then I will pay attention him.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • GrowUp

      He has –many times–caricatures no less! Maher criticizes every organized religion. Don't be a victim Christian and think you are being singled out.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Norman

      Cowardly of him, isn't it?

      December 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Tony Smith

      you should pay attention, he has a picture of you with your head between his legs... ha haha

      December 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Norman

      He has a similar picture of Mohammed for private viewing.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  5. BoldGeorge

    I know what I'm about to write here will be a bit contradictory, but here goes:

    The best thing to do with literally meaningless garble from personalities like Mr. Maher is to NOT RESPOND! So, way to go Tebow.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • novoodoo

      we do ignore tebow.. he's a freak. His god ignores hungry children to pay attention to tebow..

      OK all! Give me all your god excuses now. I know you guys need to talk for god since the guy is never around and cannot be proven.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  6. GrowUp

    A lot of self-righteous believers and non-believers posting here. Live and let live people! Be kind, respectful and charitable and everything else will fall into place whether you are a person of faith or not. it's really not complicated.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • GetReal

      ya, um, well, it gets complicated with people like W bush, Perry, and terrorists base their terror on their delusional belief in a book of fables and imaginary sky gods. Perry oversaw more executions that any other governer (including an innocent man – Todd Willingham), bush relied on "god" to tell him it was ok to go to war with the middle east, and terrorists get the high-five from their imaginary friend and book of nonsense to also kill thousands.

      But, ya, I mean, it is really not complicate or anything...just live and let live, unless your "personal relationhip" with "god/"the easter bunny"/"santa claus" [ahem] tells you to kill others because it is all in the 'good lord's" hands.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  7. Gozer

    Referring to Maher as a comedian insinuates that he's even remotely funny. Like all celebrities, ignore him and he'll disappear like a fart in the wind.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  8. Raffaele Zuccaro

    Following the teachings of Maher is kinda like following the likes of Aberdinijhad!!! Decadence in the making- This morally degenerate comic is Sub-Human feces!!! Im not a Tebow fan, BUT its to bad Mahers mom didnt ABORT him-If indeed his mother had become pregnant by some weird animal that we havent heard of yet!!!! Followers of Maher are not far behind him in a sub-human society- Just take a good look at Maher- the spitting image of Satan with horns on either side of his head- perfect likeness of many portrayals of Satans image-He is even more UGLY on the inside as he is UGLY out!!!!!!!

    December 30, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  9. David Johnson


    There are over 1000 different Christian Denominations of Christianity in North America. All of them read the Christian Bible, fasted and prayed, and come to different conclusions. An almighty god could not give humans a bible that was not ambiguous.

    If the bible is ambiguous, it cannot be inerrant. So, who are we to believe? LOL

    Happy New Years, Luke

    December 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • fred

      6900 some different languages in the world yet the name of Jesus is known by 92% if not more. Go figure that if there be that many languages there would be many interpretations. Yet, they all know there is something more than the materialism of the atheist.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • fred

      What is more ambiguous the atheist who attests to nothingness in the afterlife bases on stacks of books or the Christian who holds the Bible and relies on the words of God as spoken through; Abraham, Isaac, Moses, King Solomon, King David, Jesus, the Apostles of Christ all words contained in one Divine book that stands the test of time.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @fred. The latter.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Anatomically Bombed

      @fred – Just because someone is popular does not make them divine. Just ask John Lennon, Bill Gates or the Queen of England, all of whom are nearly as well known currently as Jesus.

      And again you miss the point fred. The bible is ambiguous, but you counter with the idea that somehow deciphering the bible in each persons individual understanding which leads every reader to differing conclusions about an afterlife where only one conclusion can be correct, is more valuable than to not make the attempt simply based on the reasoning that hoping for something you cannot confirm exists is more productive than accepting the things we can confirm and living accordingly.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Let's not forget some of the myriad others who have written the Words Given to Them by GOD HIMSELF, like Muhammad, Joseph Smith, Michel Potay, Ellen G. White, Sun Myung Moon, Emanuel Swedenborg, Baha u llah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, David Koresh, Hailie Selassie, John Thom, Arnold Potter, William Davies, George roux, Ernest Norman, Krishna Venta, Ahn Sahng-Hong, Jim Jones, Mashall Applewhite, Hulon Mitchell, Wayne Bent, Ariffin Mohammed, Mitsuo Matayoshi, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, Inri Cristo, Thomas Provenzano, David Icke, Shoko Asahara, Hogan Fukinaga, Marina Tsvigun and Sergei Troop.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • fred

      Anatomically bombed
      You said "an afterlife where only one conclusion can be correct"
      I never said that, Jesus never said that, the Bible never said that only the atheist says upon death there is nothingness. That is a singular conclusion that requires adherence to materialism as if it were a religion in and of itself.
      How absurd to say I am 100% confident that when you die your existence suddenly morphs into a place called nothing. To say all that you have seen and felt in the universe around you is no more, all you were is no more. From the perspective of the dead you never were and never existed. I can really go with all the vast study and science behind the atheist singular conclusion that I never existed to begin with.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • fred

      You never take anyones word for it and you take my word on that. Always test the word against the truth as in the Bible and we can see where they are not speaking the word of God. Oh, why not use the Quran t test for the truth? Well the Quran was taken from the Hebrew and Chrstian then merged into one. How does the copy compare to the source and what was changed.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @fred: You said, "You never take anyones word for it and you take my word on that."

      That might beat the guy who yesterday tried to tell me there were different interpretations of the word "literal."

      December 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Fluffy, the gerbil of doom

      About those sources and copies...
      How does your Bible compare to it's sources, (which of course are well known to scholars), and it's copies. You don't really think it was original now do you ? EVERY scholar knows it was NOT.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • fred

      You can fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on me, fool me three times.........can't remember that third one.

      December 30, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • fred

      With 25,000 manuscripts and the dead sea scrolls most of the critics were scilenced. The Bible did a darn good job of pulling together the story of a chosen people and their struggles with God. If you can read the Bible you will see a clear picture of exactly what we are really like as humans and how God sees it. Can you think of a greater wriiten work that reveals both God and man as honestly as the Bible does?

      December 30, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Fluffy, the gerbil of doom

      Fluffy has read the Bible, and was amazed it really IS great literature, as are many other texts from those days which were in the running for inclusion in the canon, but humans decided they were to be left out. THAT human process tells me all I need to know about it's claims of divine origin. Ho-mo sapiens needs to stop looking back, (as they will inevitably no doubt do), to an ancient culture for it's ideals, and write some new rules that reflect our current knowledge and technology base. Do you really think self aware robots in 100 years, with trillions of times our IQs, will care about ANY books of myth from 2100 years ago, based on a sacrifical pay-back scheme to an angry god ? Come on.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • fred

      Ignoring the fact someone will attempt to put boundaries on those bots minds just as you and I have boundaries on what we can know? Either way the truth of the Bible holds in that man has not stopped doing what man wants. The concept of God and the sacrificial system has placed some restraint on our evil or at least kept us continually aware someone is watching and someone cares. We will never know what would have been had we gone the way of no sacrifice or worship. The ungodly generation of Cain and the Amalekites etc. are good examples of godless societies or societies that worship evil. Never forget we have had it real sweet for a long time. There has not been a test of what we are capable of when food and water runs out.
      With Jesus the sacrificial system was complete with His atonement once and for all 2,000 years ago. We are to die in Christ and become new, filled with the Holy Spirit. There is no condemnation for those in Christ. Christians that follow Christ already have what you suggest – no sacrificial system. We are to love God and love others being of service and help to all those in need. How is it you would improve upon that?
      Just like the good bots in I Robot untl some evil being reprogramed them

      December 30, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  10. Whitney M

    Really?! This is news? Personally, I'm a big fan of Bill Maher. And if you have ever watched his show, his tweet would not surprise you. First and foremost Maher is a comedian. His tweet was meant to amuse. If you don't like it. Don't read it.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Phillip

      So are we only supposed to take your approach with regards to religion? What about the outcries when a comedian makes a racist remark or uses a derogatory term for gays? Or is it just okay to make these remarks about a religion people hold sacred?

      December 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Phillip, not like those ministers who put on a sheet on Saturday night in front of a burning cross, lynch "ni....s" and shoot "que..s"? No, of course not. Preach that "good book", boys!

      December 30, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  11. GetReal

    If I tilt my head back and talk into a hair dryer held over my head about how I respect and love it and have a close, personal relationship with it, I would be deemed mentally ill.

    If I put the hair dryer down and continue to talk, I'm praying.

    Think about it.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  12. GrowUp

    @Lance. Wow–what a good Christian you are. God must really be proud of you!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  13. The Truth Teller

    Right on point Bill , from what I've seen with these Cristian Right folks is they wish to force any and everyone to think like them ! When you ask questions or even say you think another way they do get angry ! They wish to impose there own brand of SHEEREE LAW and get mad as hell when you say you don't see a differents from the ZEALOTS that's over in the middle east ! I just tell them get out of my face !! The only thing that you can control is what's going on in your own house ! So keep it their !!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  14. B

    Just think, if the people who read what Bill Maher posted and just went on about their lives, without making an issue out of it, this wouldn't even be an issue! It would just be some more irrelevant comments that Bill Maher made... Honesty, I liked his show and agree with quite a bit of his political commentary, but his smugness and arrogance kind of get under my skin and turn me off to him. So, to those who are offended by what Bill Maher said, here is what you do: Ignore him and unsubscribe to his tweets.....problem solved. He is just another person with a voice...his words only have power when you give it to him....like in this case, otherwise it is just a tweet that no one really pays attention to...

    December 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Jim

      Exactly, who cares.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Whitney M

      Agreed, sir.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  15. lance

    i hate bill maher not even funny he's just some crappy big nosed jew hack.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • Binocook

      Yet he has pulled you into this to talk about him. So looks like he is winning even if you hate him. No one like the truth not even you i guess.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Peo

      Jew AND Catholic. Please... with that heritage he has every right to mock religion

      December 30, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Raffaele Zuccaro

      I do not think Maher is a JEW- Jews are human , this guy is far from being a human being!!! Thats another thing he never does – is be Critical Of Jews-- They would see to it that he would NEVER again appear on ANY TV Show– They own the media-

      December 30, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • boocat

      His mother was Jewish. His father Irish-Catholic....and you are another clueless moron.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  16. GrowUp

    People with class also do not wear their faith on their shirtsleeve. Faith is a private, personal matter.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  17. ginny

    I love you Bill!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Raffaele Zuccaro

      Decadent people stick together well!!!

      December 30, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  18. GrowUp

    @DocVestibule. Prophets who are worshipped as Gods. Same thing.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  19. GrowUp

    @ProfTom. If Tebow doesn't advertise his good deeds, how do those who support them know about his good deeds. People with class do not brag about their good deeds and do not profit by them.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
  20. andrew

    Why doesn't mahet go after mohammad the way he goes after Jesus. He doesn't because he is a coward.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • Binocook

      He does but America only reports when he does something offensive to them. He's not a coward just America is hypocrites.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:48 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.