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. Sanity

    Here's another Maher comment from May 2010. He's just a bundle of laughs, isn't he?

    "I thought when we elected a black president, we were going to get a black president. You know, this [BP oil spill] is where I want a real black president. I want him in a meeting with the BP CEOs, you know, where he lifts up his shirt so you can see the gun in his pants. That's - (in black man voice) 'we've got a m*therfu**ing problem here?' Shoot somebody in the foot."

    January 7, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  2. Sanity

    Black athletes often speak of their religions after successful games. Has loser Bill ever made any derogatory comments about them? No. Liberals base everything on race and consider white people to be fair game.

    January 7, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  3. Scott

    Well, if the only rule is "It has to be funny"...it just wasn't funny. Really.

    January 7, 2012 at 6:49 am |
  4. raayee

    only in america aguy with no talent and very unfunny can get away with crap others do not get by..imagine if obama said this, he would be castrated..

    January 6, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Mikey

      Obama is our PRESIDENT.
      Maher is a COMEDIAN.
      Get a BRAIN

      January 7, 2012 at 6:18 am |
  5. Mary Davis

    Don't put down Tebow's faith in God. Every human being is allowed to believe what they want. Freedom of Religion, Bill. Read it.
    you might enjoy what you could learn if you are willing to keep an open mind. Have a Nice Day everyone!

    January 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Russ

      Yes, that freedom of religion thing...well, you see, I consider religion to be a private thing, like my genitalia – I don't go shoving it down other peoples throats at every opportunity; so why do you keep trying to shove your religion down mine?? Bill is sensible and brave enough to stand up and speak out about all this never-ending vomit of religion. Many, MANY others are now waking up, putting into practice their FREEDOM OF SPEECH, and calling religion what it really is – destructive nonsense.

      January 7, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • Joe G

      Hey Russ, we're in 2012 now. You should get with the times. There are hundreds of channels on TV & radio nowadays and you're having that much trouble finding a few that don't tread on your anti-religious sensibilities? I'm not religious and I don't seem to have any difficulty with that. If something is being shoved down your throat, then you must be standing around with your mouth open wide waiting for it to happen just so that you can have something to complain about.

      Plus, as it relates to Tebow, let's be practical and put the blame where it belongs: the media. These guys know that reporting on Tebow's religious behavior ad nauseum will draw viewers/readers.

      January 9, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Vicki

      Russ, U may want to read about what the primary purpose is for Christians. That is to spread the gospel & further God's kingdom. If a christian feels compelled to speak to you about thier religion, then that's the LORD leading that person to speak to you. Also, it usually happens because He's already been convicting you of something anyways. You feel it in your heart. He's trying to lead u & using others as a means. Perhaps you ought to look inside yourself to find out why you feel this way & if the religion people are speaking about something that is relevant to your feelings in some way. 🙂 We're just following instructions, we don't mean to shove it down your throat. (but God might!)

      January 9, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Vicki: So even if we ask you nicely to stop, you won't...awesome. *eyeroll*

      January 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  6. person

    He's going to be canonized as an American Saint Of All American Americanism. How DARE you insult Jesus's favorite sports team and what's keeping the fabric of god and country together. If you dun like America you can git out.

    January 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  7. TeXan


    As both a Packer and Bronco fan, I have a great solution to the Bronco's problems.. However Fox needs to act quick!

    1) Matt Flynn is a QB in search of a team. 500 yds and 6 TD's against Lions.

    2) Denver is team in search of QB Obvious

    3) Teabow is preacher in search of church. no secret!
    He can makes ton$ of money.. much more than NFL.

    4) New Life church is church in need of Preacher/ excitement. http://www.newlifechurch.org/

    I propose solution to solve all problems. Move each player to new team.

    Flynn to Denver..
    Teabow to New Life..
    Everyone wins and is happy!

    However, I suspect Flynn received numerous calls last week. Maybe Tebow has been called by Lakewood Church and Joel Osteen?
    Act Fast Fox! Act fast NewLife Church! Don't miss your opportunity.

    January 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  8. bobalu

    I see football players and other athletes praying before games all the time. I hope the players are praying for no one to get paralyzed or thanking that they get to earn livings doing something many do for the mere enjoyment of. If they are praying for victory then that is something worthy of ridicule.

    January 6, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  9. Blessed Geek

    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

    January 6, 2012 at 12:38 am |
  10. Joe G

    If you know anything about Bill Maher, then you know exactly what you're going to get when you buy a ticket to his show, watch that show on television, watch his movies, read his Twitter comments, etc. That being the case, if you don't like it, don't buy the ticket. I agree with Bill Maher on most points but am completely turned off by his abrasiveness. So guess what? I make the decision to not watch his show and to not follow him on Twitter. Craziness isnt it?!

    I'm an atheist and in my opinion you other atheists that spend your time bashing religion, getting angry about religion, and engaging religious people in pointless "philosophical" arguments are almost as bad as the fire & brimstone Christians condemning everyone to hell. What a waste of time and energy. Ditto to *We are all wrong* below.

    January 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  11. Penis Buffet

    Bill Maher enjoys a mouthful of black men.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • lol

      Nah, he like his black girls.

      U mad Tyrone?

      January 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  12. Ronnie Harper

    Bill Maher is genius, one of our greatest pundits ever and a champion for progressive modern thinkers everywhere. Down with the South, organized religion, and the junk thought of droll, dumb Americans. Tim Tebow and religions are nauseating – Ridiculous with a capital R.

    January 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  13. Kent

    Read "God is not Great" by Christopher Hitchens and you'll see why religion is a bad thing.

    January 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  14. Captain Vinny

    Maher is just a kweer anyway so his opinion doesnt count. I hear he enjoyed sleeping with his daddy.

    January 5, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Dats right

      Yeah and I banged your mother and sister last night and made you feltch them both. F ucking di ck head.

      January 5, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • Captain Vinny

      up yours Nig ger. Dats right! LMAO...nig ger.

      January 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Van

      Jesus (if here ever lived-where is the DNA evidence) would be so proud of you

      January 5, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  15. We are all wrong

    After reading this article and the ensuing comments, I had a rather amusing thought cross my mind. Persons of a single religion attack persons of other religions. Atheists attack the religious., while the religious attack atheists. All cite "evidence" or lack of opposing "evidence" as their main arguments, calling the other side foolish and worthless. Sounds a lot like political party bickering. What if we are all foolish and worthless, wasting our time trying to prove a point that doesn't even matter anyways? I say let the religious be religious, the atheists be not so, the politicians support their policies and not attack those of others, and just get over ourselves. Funny how, in order to feel important, we humans must break down others instead of building up ourselves. Just a thought.

    January 4, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Robert

      I agree. You hit the nail on the head.

      January 5, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Gary

      All so true. I don't care about any kind of religion and I don't throw mud and the people that are religious. I just ignore it all and go about my way.

      January 5, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Jerry

      You're making too much sense...this is the internet where people are supposed to spout off nonsense and abuse each other...


      January 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  16. GAY BEEF



    January 4, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  17. BigDeek

    What do you expect from a Chew?

    January 4, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  18. s123man

    I don't care for football, other people's religion and Maher, but Maher annoys me the worst of all.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  19. The Lord

    JESUS IS LORD, HEATHENS. Haha, just kidding. I am. In other news, how many chicken heads do we need to cut off to get Drew Brees some attention? The man is literally a gift from...well...me.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  20. KBNJ

    I'm not religious, but I respect those who are. Blowhard Maher? You couldn't pay me to watch that P O S, let alone respect him.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Gary

      I'm not religious and ignore the fact that some are. <-- That's fair right? I mean what harm will this cause? Plus... I watch Bill Maher's show anytime I can. I am a fan of good comedy. Just saying...

      January 5, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • senginz

      surely Bill isn't losing any slept for not having your respect, lmao, like who cares , Tebow probably doesn't give a rats ass about your opinion!

      January 5, 2012 at 11:39 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.