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. Stu

    Why is everyone so surprised? I thought your zombie god told you to expect to be ridiculed.

    December 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • John John

      My zombie god-king-savior can beat up your god-king-savior!

      December 30, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer Works miracles
    God really knows what He is doing

    December 30, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Bender: I'm immortal.
      Amy: How come you scream so much when you're in danger?
      Bender: I never said I wasn't a drama queen.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • omybatman

      Amen. If we are wrong, we are no worse off when we die. If they are wrong, well..............

      December 30, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Hahaha... Stay on those knees god-slave, but rest assured once the zombie apocalypse occurs, I'll shoot you in the head no problem.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Moravian

      What an idiotic comment. But believe what you want, just do not push your beliefs on to others – your freedom stops where my freedom begins.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • John John

      You need to learn the difference between miracles and coincidence. Religious people never could do math. Praying is just man's way of coping with not being ready to die.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Sue

      "Amen. If we are wrong, we are no worse off when we die. If they are wrong, well.............."
      Yeah, but who did you have to step over in order to get your Lord's favor? Jews, Muslims, non-believers, gays, ...? Some of us would rather not behave so judgmentally towards others just to have a slim chance at heaven. It's just such a selfish thing to do.

      December 31, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  3. Ralph

    What is amazing to me here is in recent years, careers have been ended over comments like Maher gets away with...Imus, Obberman, Michael Richards (Kramer)....but attack Christians in this country and your somekind of a hero...HBO should fire Bill Maher next time he shows up for work

    December 30, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Ralph

      ...also after reviewing that tweet...the Hitler reference should be considered similair to ABC's dismissal of Hank Jr....

      December 30, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Making comments about religious fools is different than making racist comments. A fine line maybe, but still different.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • John John

      The difference is, Maher is right. Christianity is just the Jewish religion with new myths piled onto it. The only reason we have only one god in Christianity, is that the Jews thought they had angered the big guy so stopped worshiping the other false gods when they got kicked out of the holy land, so they rewrote the scriptures. Made up by man, worshiped by fools, that's what gods are.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  4. JoJo

    American Christians put the last nail in the coffin of my religuous beliefs when they largely enthusiastically supported the unnecessary lie-based holocaust in Iraq. I don't care about football. If you Christians want to change the minds of atheists and agnostics, trying showing by example that you actually believe the things Jesus taught (e.g., blessed are the peacemakers, he who lives by the sword dies by the sword, love your enemies, repay evil with good, turn the other cheek, forgive 70 times 7 times, etc., etc..). Kneeling on a football field won't cut it.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Phil in Oregon

      Sorry to burst your pseudo-Christian bubble, but as a Christian father, I would dismember you in 10 seconds rather than let you hurt my children. That is what we did in Iraq – we made war 'over there' so they wouldn't come and make it 'over here'. You have been sitting on your secure little American tush too long.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Peace is an unnatural state for humans. You don't have to be a history major to figure that out.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • Peter

      Hey "phil in oregon". Did you really go to Iraq? Cause even the soldiers who fought there know that they weren't preventing a war from occuring in the US. Who are you kidding? The US would actually have MORE respect in the world if we weren't over there slaughtering civilians. I realize it's the generals and politicians who force the soldiers to fight there, but that doesn't mean you have to let their fear mongering brainwash you like it has!

      December 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Peter – so did you go to Iraq to know what soldiers know?

      December 30, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • LA-CC

      I would agree more with your definition of 'pseudo-Christian' than Phil's. It's almost as if the more & louder some claim to be Christian, the less likely they are to actually behave as we think Christians would. I think there was a passage about that in the Bible, too.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  5. Scott

    How is a noisy atheist any less of a "religious zealot" than the preacher standing on a corner with a bible shouting? I don't care what religion you are, I don't need you preaching what you believe, or don't believe, to me regardless.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  6. larry5

    You should feel sorry for Maher. Can you imagine how tough his job is, that is to stay in the public eye. It's amazing, given the assets he has to work with that he can come up with enough insults each week to make a living. Most people use their brains or their back to get by and pay the bills. Maher has neither and still manages. Now that he has gained some celebrity he can fall back on writers and the teleprompter for his TV shows and his sponsors can be assured that he will stay on message. And now that he has been embraced by the political left and the extreme liberals he should consider running for political office. Remarks made this week are proof positive that he's qualified and ready for office. And it's got to pay better then the few million dollars a year he can make on TV. It will be interesting to see if the draw of big money will convince him to throw his hat into the ring.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I'm astounded by your dumb.ass.ness

      December 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  7. Thomson & Thompson

    Blistering barnacles;thundering typhoons;
    Maher you are a world class Idiot!

    December 30, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • John John

      So that freak on the field is a super-genius, just because he believes in a magical giant in the sky that likes football?

      December 30, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
  8. Nanette

    Bill – did you know that there will come a day when EVERYONE will bow down. That means you.

    December 30, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Jose

      Tebow and maher should get in the boxing ring and settle this like men.
      Oh, wait, maher is a fruit & twerp, won't happen.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Adrienne

      He does not believe you.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • John John

      There will come a day SOON that religions will all go away, and mankind will learn he does not need a magical giant to make the sun come up in the morning.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Black Cat Smoked Crack

      But it won't be to Tebow. I'll give you 5-2 Tebow is out of the league in 5 years.

      December 31, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  9. BlackYowe

    I used to just love Bill Maher but he turned bitter and mean. His curent brand of humor falls flat because its cynical and angry and mean spirited. While Tim Tebow is an exhibitionist and sets himself up for ridicule with his little pious performances. The ugliness that Bill shows is even more offensive.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  10. me

    Just some histrionic moron.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Hypatia

      You are so right. Tebow is a histrionic idiot.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Sue

      I heard what that Christian mob did to you just for speaking your mind, like Bill does. Nasty!

      December 31, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  11. bob

    Bil is a no class bum

    December 30, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • BlackYowe

      The funny thing about Bill is he can't relate to women , no wonder he can't relate to God.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • Black Cat Smoked Crack

      @BlackYowe So you are saying God is a woman?

      December 31, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • Sue

      Black Cat Smoked Crack
      Well, it would explain the violent mood swings. Loving one day, genocidal the next. Believe me, I've been there! πŸ™‚

      December 31, 2011 at 1:23 am |
  12. scieng1

    It is interesting to see that those who profess so much hate for Christianity actually know so little about it.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Hypatia

      Matthew Chapter 6, verses 5-6

      December 30, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Somethingnew

      Actually, according to quite a few polls and studies, it's the other way around. Good try, though.


      December 30, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • John John

      I have never seen a Christian INCLUDING MINISTERS that know as much about their religion as most atheists do. Memorizing fantasy does not make you a history guru.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • Sue

      It's because we know so much about it that we came to the conclusion that it's false, and unhealthy. It's like the beef industry. The people who really know the ins and outs of how cows are slaughtered are either making a profit from it, or vegans. We're the vegans!

      December 31, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  13. Millz

    Not sure why people are gettin' so violent over something a pagan has the balls to say? He is verbalizing what people say in their heart against God? Even..."So-called" Christians will deny him on the same lev el...think about it.

    December 30, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Bill Maher is not a pagan.

      December 30, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • pattic

      You do know there is a difference between pagans and atheists, right? It's amazing how people who hate atheists know so little about it.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • BlackYowe

      He is an atheist not a Pagan.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  14. Voice of Reason

    Bill rocks!

    December 30, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  15. Steve9337

    I love that Bill points out the fact the Jesus was based of several previous gods and is merely an amalgamation. Those gods performed the same "miracles", were all born of virgins, and Mithra even raised a man named Lazarus. Coincidence? Only if you like your dogma over your reality. Oddly enough, there were also several historians alive during the time Jesus was supposed to have live and none of them even make a single mention of Jesus. We don't get the story of Jesus for another 400 years and that's like me telling you about the Salem witch trials like I was actually there. Would be kind of odd not to mention that God just showed up on the planet, yes?
    Go, Bill, go!

    December 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Buffalo bills fan

      Who Cares that someone said something about tebow i'm just happy that the bills won that game

      December 30, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • Steve9337

      Buffalo bills fan, I grew up just south of OP in the 70's, and I'm now sorry to say, but OJ was my hero. Same for Joe Ferguson and Terry Miller but with out the shame! And in September '92, I had 9 heart attacks watching the Super Bowl! One for every fumble. Nonetheless, you speak with wisdom beyond your years...Go Bills!

      December 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • Jon

      Steve, so your parents and their parents back 100 generations are all fools. 234 million Americans and 1/3 of the planet are fools? I see your posts all over the place trying to get attention. Go outside and get a GF and a life. Mahar is a little man that was beat up as a nerdy little guy and still is, poor fellow.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • sam

      @Jon – you mad, bro?

      December 30, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • LA-CC

      @Jon – don't those millions of flies dining on cow dung make you think it must be delicious?

      December 30, 2011 at 8:46 pm |
  16. yannaes

    Do we really think that this is the first time people of religion have been scoffed, or who or what they believe. Can anyone come up with something unique. Like if someone does not believe in a Supernatural, then why would they waste their time commenting on someone that does. Crazy......

    December 30, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • wayne317

      Because they want to run the country under their rules. That's why people care. Did you really not consider that at all?

      December 30, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • Shawn Olsen

      Because they try to shove it down our throats and tell women they cannot do what they want with their own bodies that is why i cannot stomach timmie boy Tebow. Leave the rest of us alone.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • yannaes

      And your "rule" of thumb is?

      December 30, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • yannaes

      Shawn: You sound so angry. Wow! Lighten up dude, God loves you even if you are uptight..

      December 30, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • LA-CC

      @yannaes – Condescension is not becoming.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:47 pm |
  17. Peter

    Bill Maher stopped being funny about 8 years ago. I think what happened is once he became successful, he thought it was actually his humor people were laughing at, and he stopped using writers. Now his show just consists of him saying rude or shocking things, and then smirking like he farted in an elevator. His show used to actually be clever and witty back when he had other people writing for him.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • BlackYowe

      Yeah he turned smug and mean. I used to laugh my a_ _ off at his humor.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • Sue

      "smug and mean"
      Like Pat Robinson?

      December 31, 2011 at 1:31 am |
  18. janelle

    What Bill Mahar doesn't get is that people like Tebow, people who live their faith, don't care what people like Bill Mahar think of them.

    When it comes to a belief in God, or lack thereof, only one of these men is right. The kicker here is, If Mahar is right and Tebow is wrong, Tebow will never know it. He'll die and that will be the end of it. But, if Tebow is right and Mahar is wrong, well, it would really suck to Mahar!

    December 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • wayne317


      Wrong, Tebow could be wrong and so could maher. It could be a god that nobody knows about, one that doesn't care if we worship it or not. One that doesn't issue an afterlife. Or one that sends everybody to hell because it's just a evil God. If you believe in God, all you are doing is picking a god to believe in and hoping you are right, like playing the God lottery.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Maybe one of them is right – or they're both wrong.
      If the One True Deity, shaper of The Universe, wishes their words to be transmitted and adhered to, they should have been a bit less ambiguous. Expecting people to select The Truth out of limitless possibilities on faith alone seems a sloppy way to run things especially if the punishment for a wrong choice is eternal torment.

      Who is to say that Angus, Belenos, Brigid, dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atehna, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, Zeus, Mathilde, Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Thuno, Tir, Weyland, Woden, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mon, Njord, Norns, Nott, Odin, Ran, saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, Vor, Black Shuck, Herne, Jack in the Green, Holda, Nehalennia, Nerthus, endovelicus, Ataegina, Runesocesius, Apollo, Bacchus, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Isis, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Endovelicus, Anubis, Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma’at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, Thoth, An, Anshar, Anu, Apsu, Ashur, Damkina, Ea, Enki, Enlil, Ereshkigal, Nunurta, Hadad, Inanna, Ishtar, Kingu, Kishar, Marduk, Mummu, Nabu, Nammu, Nanna, Nergal, Ninhursag, Ninlil, Nintu, Shamash, Sin, Tiamat, Utu, Mitra, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fu.kurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac, Viracoc.ha, or Zaramama aren't true gods?

      If you want to cover your bases, you'd best apply Pascal's wager to ALL of the possible Gods.
      Eenie, meenie, miney ..... Quetzlcoatl!

      December 30, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Steve9337

      Janelle likes the "double down" approach to religion. Cover that butt! You go girl!

      December 30, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Shawn Olsen

      jJanelle then why are the so-called Christians always freakin out bout things they must care, they need to quit trying to push their so-called morality down the rest of our throats.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • LA-CC

      "who live their faith, don't care what people like Bill Mahar think of them." ... We seem to have a lot of people here claiming to be of faith and who also seem to care a bit too much what Mahar thinks of them – or their religion. Need a mirror? Maybe what you don't get is that many of us understand quite a bit about religion & the followers, even if we don't believe in it.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  19. Tebow is not the Messiah

    So why are all you so-called Christians worshiping him instead of God? And why do so many that claim to be Christians so un-Christ-like, as evident in your comments here towards others? I completely disagree that God gives a crap about his performance on the football field and will never understand why people that claim to read and follow the Bible continue to pray for material things of this world – and then put on a public show of it to proclaim what wonderful Christians they are (also not what the Bible says). All you other similarly fake, judgmental "Christians" eat it up. It makes me sick.

    December 30, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  20. Timmy never really read the Bible

    "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." ........... Matthew 6 : 6

    December 30, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • DennisBTR

      Oh, he read it. He, like most right wing Christian consertatives, simply choose to ignore those verses that don't serve their social agenda.

      Public displays like this are insulting to REAL Christians and to God.

      December 30, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Jobie

      If everyone prays quietly in their rooms, how do we get the word out, that there is a God who wants nothing more than to be a part of your life? I think there are also few verses to support the notion that Christians need to be unashamed.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • What IF

      "If everyone prays quietly in their rooms, how do we get the word out,..."

      If your "God" is really infinitely intelligent, I'm just betting that 'he' could figure out an effective way.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Hypatia


      December 30, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • LA-CC

      @Jobie – It was my understanding that you get the word out by living the word – by your example (isn't that phrase right there in the Bible??). No one is saying you cannot proselytize, but some have gone way overboard and, as you read here, people sometimes feel it's 'crammed down their throats.' That is surely no way to 'get the word out.' At least, not if you're hoping to bring folks into the fold, so to speak. I simply ask you to consider the many very public examples we have of those preachers and other publicly avowed Christians ranting about gays and other sins of others -- who were later found out to be the biggest sinners among us. There is a long road between showing off your religion and being ashamed of it. It's not an either/or black or white thing. I see this error in thinking quite often among those who are in the authoritarian/religious/right wing.

      December 30, 2011 at 8:59 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.