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. Charles Hubbard

    I do believe there is a curse with NIKE... the company named in honor of the pagan goddess NIKE... the goddess that originated with Satan to take honor away from the Most High God.

    Just look at Tim Tebow... he promotes NIKE now.

    I rest my case.

    December 31, 2011 at 3:53 am |
  2. dadsnorz1

    Most atheists I have met can be perfect a&&#0les, with a high a level of arrogance.

    December 31, 2011 at 3:33 am |
  3. eville11

    I think Maher finally figured out sports in America are more holy than comedians. For such a person of supposedly cleverness and insight, he just got sacked. And after Satan Tebowed, ( which means much respect from Satan to Tebow, ) Mimic is the highest form of compliment ,or Maher?) He southparked Hitler in bed and said "your little narcisstic comedian just tweeted himself a nail for his washed up career's coffin Adolf, we'll have to recall his lame a(ct)-ss pretty soon. I'm afraid."

    December 31, 2011 at 2:39 am |
    • eville11

      and the tweet isn't even funny. Maher needs some new material, everybody references Hitler these days, and mostly with the same arrogance and hate Hitler would be proud of. I'm not a religious nut job, but Maher USED to be funny, now he's narrowed himself into a frenzied mission orientated liberal who should be put on radio with ed schulz.

      December 31, 2011 at 2:50 am |
  4. G.S.Marryat

    I have to go down on one knee to Bill Maher, he certainly got it right. The guy's a saint!

    December 31, 2011 at 2:31 am |
  5. Amanda

    I find it interesting that the writer of this article finds acknowledging that other religion's deities are said to have born on the same day is somehow "insulting" Jesus. If that is the case, when my brother wishes his friend (who shares my birthday) a happy birthday, I smite him?

    December 31, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • Amanda


      December 31, 2011 at 2:13 am |
    • eville11

      Are you Jesus?

      December 31, 2011 at 2:31 am |
  6. Max Power

    I'm not sure what exactly is so wrong with an athlete living out his faith through football. It's not like Tebow is protesting funerals, bombing civilians, and condemning everyone to hell. Personally I think as far as evangelical efforts go, its refreshing, as well as relatively harmless to atheists. Maher wants to make comments about religion, so be it... he can do that without fear, as Tebow wont be strapping a bomb to himself and blowing Maher's house up.

    December 31, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • nik

      It's absolutely revolting that someone can stand in front of a camera and say that Jesus helped them win the football game when there are millions crying out every day, living homeless on the streets of the wealthiest nation on the planet and god does not help them. Is the Christian god more accepting of rich athletes than the poor and the meek?

      December 31, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • tallulah13

      I dislike grandstanding. If Tebow wishes to thank god for his success as a player, there is nothing wrong with saying a quick, private prayer. But demonstrations such as his have no place in a team sport. It is disprespectful to his teammates. who are the real power behind any success Tebow may have experienced.

      December 31, 2011 at 3:20 am |
  7. Dee

    I think the funniest part of all of this....was folks weren't upset about Maher using Jesus and f*&^ in the same sentence...they were upset because they felt he insulted Tebow.

    What kind of crap is that.....smh

    December 31, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • nik

      Crazy religiotards, that's for sure. I love Bill Maher!

      December 31, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • MIrosal

      It's the same kind of crap that has more people voting for the nexy "Idol" than for the Presidential election.

      December 31, 2011 at 2:16 am |
  8. thehangar18

    \m/ Hail Satan \m/

    December 31, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  9. AJ

    I love the 1st amendment. That said, Jesus wouldn't approve of the garbage that comes out of some of his follower's mouths.

    December 31, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  10. Reality

    Dear Timmy Tebow,

    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 31, 2011 at 12:01 am |
  11. lcleejr

    i like bill maher and tebow. backed tebow the whole season. bill maher is a comedian and is normally right when he goes after political figures. tebow is not a political figure, so maybe maher had a lot of money riding on denver and that got beat bad. maher had to blame someone and tebow was the perfect one to blame.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • nik

      or maybe Bill Maher, in his active crusade against religion, found a way to make somebody look stupid for dragging their religion into it? Jesus lets homeless people die on the streets of the world's richest nation every day and yet Jesus somehow cares about Tim Tebow so much than he'll help them win a football game? Get the hell outta here, HAHA.

      December 31, 2011 at 2:04 am |
  12. George

    Bill Maher deserves to burn in hell. This no-good atheist is opposed to everything America stands for. He is a worthless human being.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • GinBhamAL

      I'm thinking George @11:36 is actually an atheist trying to portray himself as a bad Christian. No true Christian would wish anyone to burn in Hell.

      December 31, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • Ranger14

      America stands for freedom of speech and the right to not believe in faerie tales passed down over thousands of years. The story of Jesus existed way before Jesus. Old tales that were concocted to explain what ancient science could not, and to control the masses. Wake up. If you need something to comfort you because you didn't listen in school or refuse to accept the truth, that's fine. But don't force it on other people. How many wars have been fought over this garbage?

      December 31, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • LinCA


      You said, "I'm thinking George @11:36 is actually an atheist trying to portray himself as a bad Christian. No true Christian would wish anyone to burn in Hell."

      I fear that George is truly like he represents himself in his post. He's been nothing if not consistent in his hate for atheists and desire to ruin the US. I have no reason to believe that he is anything other than a christian.

      December 31, 2011 at 1:40 am |
    • tallulah13

      I think that George is a coward who wants to punish others for having ideas different from his own. I think George hates the United States because our Consti/tution grants us freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

      December 31, 2011 at 2:27 am |
    • George


      I do NOT want to ruin America. I love America. I want to save America from atheists like you. We are one nation UNDER GOD.

      December 31, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "I do NOT want to ruin America. I love America. I want to save America from atheists like you. We are one nation UNDER GOD."
      What you want the US to be will require suspension of the 1st amendment. It will destroy the US as the land of the free.

      You can't have both a christian nation and stay true to its founding principles.

      January 1, 2012 at 2:06 am |
  13. gmc

    Bill Maher just needed the ratings to help his failing show. Has been that realy never was.

    December 30, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Oh look.... gmc is yet another christian who doesn't think the rules of the bible apply to them. Remember that whole "not bearing false witness" thing? If there's a hell, I'll see you there.

      December 31, 2011 at 2:31 am |
  14. Jim

    Let's say that Tebow, instead of showboating his religion, was spouting political catchphrases for a particular party, doesn't matter which one. He would be bashed constantly, and for good reason. When Alec Baldwin or Charleton Heston spout off about politics I (and most people I know), wish they would shut up. Why does this weenie get to spout about religion and get a free ride? Just play football for more than just the 4th quarter and be quiet about religion or politics. Please.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Happy dance


      December 30, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  15. Haime52

    I guess I come from some other planet or mysteriously got transported to this one form Earth. You know, the planet Earth, where no one supposedly has a right to denigrate anyone elses race, religion, gender, etc. If Mr. Maher thinks he is funny in doing just that, it does not make him funny, merely a bully. What happened to that "no tolerance policy"?

    December 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm |
    • Jim

      Sorry dude, somebody lied to you. You never on Earth.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Jim

      WERE never on Earth. Fingers moving faster than brain on that one.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • just sayin

      I've read some of your posts.Your fingers are always way ahead of your brain. In fact an overripe potato may be way ahead of your brain.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • Jim

      @just sayin, I'm afraid my wife would probably agree with you. However, my dog thinks I'm brilliant.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • nik

      Tolerance of what? Truth? Get real, the "no tolerance" policies breed WIMPS and BABIES. Oh no! Someone said something you might not like! Cry and throw a tantrum! WAIT! LET'S MAKE IT ILLEGAL!!

      December 31, 2011 at 2:09 am |
  16. Brian Mouland

    Cant believe the fuss over an unproven QB and a has-been comic

    December 30, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
  17. Donald in CA

    If you listen to what these right wing religious nuts say, they are the mose racist haters in america. If haters get into heaven, so should charles manson. Bill Maher makes a lot of sense.

    December 30, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
  18. LA-CC

    @hey – I think that's quite a claim. We've seen some very judgmental Christians on display in politics alone. Then, take a look at the other comments on this site as well as thinking about what you're doing in your own comment. You are judging Maher and exaggerating (lying) at the same time. Most Christians do not make good witnesses for Christianity these days, I've gotta say.

    December 30, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
  19. m

    Nobody takes Maher seriously. With him it's all about the rating and the money which follows.

    December 30, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
  20. hey

    Bill Maher is more judgemental then any christian.

    December 30, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Bill Maher is smarter than any Christian. He doesn't believe in a sky daddy.


      December 30, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Really? You must be new here.

      December 31, 2011 at 2:33 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.