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. PVS

    "For all the furry aimed at Mahe..."

    its "fury", not "furry". more quality journalism courtesy of cnn's stoned student interns.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  2. streetsmt

    Relax everyone. The tweet is kinda funny.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  3. Chad


    December 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  4. flakko

    Which is worse, Maher's tweet coupling JC with "f*****"" (which is arguably his middle name: Jesus F'ing Christ), or JC's followers wishing that Big Daddy sets Maher on fire for all eternity?

    December 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  5. Rob

    Maher can make any religious joke he wants and I'm fine with it. The beauty of a free country. I won't have a problem with any speech. Unless they suck as a joke. And that just wasn't funny. And it's not exactly like this is a hard topic to find humor in ...

    December 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  6. Mark

    Dang.... CHILL OUT. He's a comedian!! NOW I'm really sick of the Tebow crap!

    December 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  7. Duckfan

    This to shall pass. Maher will get to a point where his cynical, bitter type of humor will no longer be watched and he will fade away. Tebow on the other hand will always have joy and laughter because his heart is in the right place. He doesn't need to make fun of others to make a buck. . You go Tebow.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  8. Alvin

    We all know that Jesus was American....just ask Rick Perry. The right-wing will get what's coming to them in 2012.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Frank

      get a life

      December 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  9. LarryDavidSandwich

    I'm an atheist and I think Maher is a complete c0cksucker. I cannot possibly fathom him saying the same things about Muhammed and for that he is a sackless coward.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • Chad

      dude what are you talking about... ever seen religilous? he rips basically every type of God to shreds including the man you just said....

      December 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  10. WES

    Who said christians were perfect happy hippie fairies? people always say christians are out for blood... there has been much blood spilt in the name of Christ. We will stand for our beliefs and goto war over them. If you are looking for a group of people who sit around and just sing hymns and hold hands all day, this ain't that group. We are people who believe in a savior and try to live good lives and help others. Christians have been dying for centuries for their beliefs. In no way should you assume we are push overs. If that what you think Christianity is about then you are mistaken.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  11. Derski

    I'm agnostic, liberal, and a fan but god, Maher needs to give it a rest. You can't prove god exists but you can't prove he doesn't exist. I believe if there was an all knowing deity he would create the set up for the universe to begin and life to evolve as naturally as possible so as to stay out of it as much as possible. His arrogance is unbridled and though I love it I'm getting just as mad at atheists like him as I was previously at religious fundamentalists. This article was pretty light on him too, saying that religulous poked fun at religion. It straight up skewered religion and people who follow it. That shouldn't be called 'poking fun.' It gives genuine joking a bad name...

    December 29, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • johnny6

      can't prove a god doesn't exist? which one are you talking about?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Reality

      Can you prove unicorns don't exist? No? Well then you should be agnostic to the existence of unicorns?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
  12. Shannon Diem

    The Bronco's were getting beat badly by the Buffalo Bills, not the Lion's as Eric Marrapodi, mentioned in the first paragraph in this article. C'Mon man. No One Circles The Wagons, like... The Buffalo Bills!!!

    December 29, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  13. thegadfly

    So is Tebow more popular than JC?

    December 29, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Chad

      "because there is a law such as gravity the universe can and will create itself out of nothing" Stephen Hawking

      December 29, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  14. Chad

    lol you should have seen fast five on faux news station ripping bill to peices. basically condemning him to hell... get a life idiots. stop brainwashing this country.

    December 29, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  15. Jack

    AWESOME TWEET...For all you Nut jobs that think your so holy....lighten up...it is his job to make jokes even ones you don't like

    December 29, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  16. Flsnupe


    King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
    Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

    December 29, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  17. Chad

    wow i cant wait for Bill to come back on air. So much bs has happened since he was last on and im proud of him for doing this. its time people speak out and im sick of tebow talking about christ every time he talks. if people are allowed to do this i think people are allowed to speak there mind. after all its called comedy... hes a very smart comedian and he will not stop what he is doing. in fact he has struck gold with his new comment. keep reporting the facts bill. maybe one day our country will stop believing in stuff that holds this country behind.

    December 29, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  18. djws

    Anyone else notice that it says, " for all the 'furry' aimed at Maher"?

    December 29, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • filmkid

      Well, I am guessing that Bill gets more than his fair share of both....

      December 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • oscar r

      he likes that

      December 29, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Totally

      Yeah, I keep imagining people saying furry, when they say fury and its hilarious!!
      For example, "BEWARE MY FURRY!"

      December 29, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Reality

      "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furrious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know I am the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon you. – Ezekiel 25:17. hehe

      December 29, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  19. Alvin

    Pompous athletes forcing their religion on others are a blight to organized sports. Let's hear the outcry when a Muslim (god forbid) athlete praises Allah in the end zone.

    December 29, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Mark9988

      'forcing'? grow a spine.

      December 29, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  20. Me

    David Letterman, Rosie O'Donnell, Joy Behar, Bill Maher. Bitter people who only get noticed when they do something unpleasant or dysfunctional. Sad.

    December 29, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Alvin

      Then there's Bill O'Reilly...Rush...Palin...yawn.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • dwerbil

      as';dlkepaqow'fk, said mother humpin' jeSus

      December 30, 2011 at 1:14 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.