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. Diane

    As long as Tebow doesn't suggest the entire team pray with him or that games begin with a public prayer, I don't care what he does. He has every right to his faith and to express that faith in any personal way he sees fit. It's refreshing to see someone of faith express his/her faith without apology, and without pushing that faith on anyone else. If he wants to fall to a knee and thank God for any reason, that's his business and more power to him!

    January 16, 2012 at 1:20 am |
  2. JR

    Hands off Tebow! Maher is an idiot.

    January 15, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • mb2010a

      Pats 45 to Tebow's 10...so I guess Maher was right. Broncos are out as expected...so much for praying.

      January 15, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • MontanaTrace

      1-5 when he started. Made it to and won one in the playoffs. How is Maher right?

      January 15, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  3. MontanaTrace

    I don't care about Tebow one way or another but find Maher violates my sense of dignity but trying to capitalize on everyone else. I have watched once or twice and for a few seconds when clicking my way thru TV. Maher is an egotist that is unoriginal and offensive rather than humorous. kinda reminds me of Kathy Griffin, Roseanne, Rosie, Whoppee and others that are just big mouths.

    January 15, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Mandy

      Wagering for God superdominates wagering against God: the worst outcome associated with wagering for God (status quo) is at least as good as the best outcome associated with wagering against God (status quo); and if God exists, the result of wagering for God is strictly better that the result of wagering against God. (The fact that the result is much better does not matter yet.) Pascal draws the conclusion at this point that rationality requires you to wager for God.

      January 16, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  4. Mandy

    Just a thought...

    Is is not better to believe in God and be wrong, than the alternative....?

    January 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • James

      This statement (paraphrasing Pascal's Wager) assumes that we can make a conscious choice to believe or disbelieve something. Personally, I just can't do that.

      January 14, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Forensic1

      Man, I feel sorry for you James.

      January 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Ozymandias71

      Pascal's Wager. Look it up.

      January 16, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  5. MAL

    Funny how supposed Christians are calling Maher horrible names. I thought Jesus was someone who embraced all and accepted everyone no matter what their beliefs are. So to all the Bill Maher haters out there, YOU are not a true Christian. You are just one of the millions of hypocrites who say they're something they're not.

    January 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Todd

      MAL – Jesus Christ taught that all people are sinners & that God’s forgiveness/salvation is available to all through him exclusively. Your understanding of his “acceptance” is incomplete – it applies to the sinner that seeks God’s forgiveness and rejects sin in their heart. Christianity does not teach that he accepts all behavior/beliefs...refer to his encounter with the “woman at the well” for an example where Christ instructed her to “go and sin no more.” That said, you make a good point…the Christians who attack Bill Maher for his behavior are doing no favors to Christianity or Tim Tebow. However, wouldn’t it be fair for you to acknowledge that it’s ironic Maher uses someone who does not appear to be a hypocrite as a primary source for his attacks?

      January 15, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • UhYeaOk

      @MAL, where in the bible does it say that Jesus embraced ALL??? He called sinners sinners, he didn't sugar coat anything. Jesus says there is only one way to god and that is through him. I hardly see that as an endorsement for athiests etc.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  6. Paul

    Simply put... Bill Maher is an azz.... he will do anything for a buck. Since when was Bill Maher the author of wisdom, truth, and intelligence lol?

    January 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • MAL

      Simply put by a simple mind. Too bad his intelligence is too confusing for you. You right wingers can't stand facts or knowledge much, can you?

      January 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  7. ed

    bill maher is like the girl with a ugly complex or the 9 year punk who needs to pick on little people. He needs to make fun of other people to make himself look better, very sad...

    January 14, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  8. hopia

    The more tragic fact is that even more people glorifies and consumes the trash that comes out of Maher mouth while Maher laughs all the way to the bank and deposits all the money he made from the people consuming his trash.. Just like the saying goes, "someone else's trash is someone else's treasure"...

    January 14, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  9. Lew

    Bill Maher, the zionist "liberal" lol

    January 14, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  10. Tom

    Bill is awesome. Fact, on the other side of the world, tweeting that hanging Christians is a bad thing will get similar results. The difference, America supposedly allows free speech until religious thugs get involved.

    January 14, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  11. Leo

    I was going to say somthing about bill mahayer but he is not worth my time or finding out how to spell his name.

    January 14, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  12. Paul Hughes

    I am sorry for all the Bill Maher fans out there I have no problem with free speech but bill Maher is not about free speech he is a bully pure and simple!!!! get over yourself you choose not to believe in god then thats your choice those that do should not be afraid to say they do because of what Bill Maher might deem to call you.....

    January 14, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  13. Reason

    hahahaha a bunch of jocks getting their panties in a bunch when the "captain of the football team" gets poked at.

    Did you people ever grow up from high school because this is reminding me a lot of it? Hes a FOOTBALL PLAYER for crying out loud – making more money than most of you will ever hope to dream about. I think the world will take another turn tomorrow. Cancelling their HBO subscriptions... please. You idiots just gave Bill Maher all the attention the show could ask for. And thank you, because hes awesome and it pays my bills. 🙂

    January 14, 2012 at 2:58 am |
  14. Margaret

    Let's all remember It's Just A Game!

    January 13, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  15. lebowski1776

    If you think God helps you win things...you are not a real Christian Fyi. You're getting closer to that Al Quaida brand 'hand of God' extremist elitism. A Christian would be thankful for the ability to play, and for the skill of your opponents to give you a great game win or lose. A selfish zealot would pray for a win. Unfortunately that's what most Christians seem to have been reduced to. The greatest trick the Devil ever played was to get people to hate and kill in Christs name. King James edited the Bible into Holy War propaganda.

    January 13, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  16. mouse

    Probably not too many of us hate Tebow, we hate that the christian truly believe that his god is helping him win.......come on now, really? Your all mighty and impotent god only has the strength to command football games while people are dying because they don't have clean drinking water or food to eat? So your god is a god of football and can dictate the outcome of a game but nothing else? Not much of a god in my opinion.

    January 13, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  17. LC Bench

    Bill Maher is a "A" hole.

    January 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  18. Stan

    Sean, you are absolutely right about one thing. Some people are praising Tebow too much to the point where I think he is getting really uncomfortable with it. It's like they are trying to make him into the arrogant hotshot superstar quarterback who can be so damaging to a team.

    The team started playing a whole lot better in my view, not because tim is such a great ball thrower but because he was able to motivate the other players with his hard work and desire to improve, as well as his humbleness and being for the team, not Tim Tebow.

    it' a shame that some people seem to be trying to change that.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  19. Stan

    Sean, in terms of TEAM sports, you might say it's very important to squash arrogance for the betterment of the team. Individual sports on the other hand, a certain amount of individual arrogance can be quite healthy. I'm not talking about arrogance towards other teams, that can be healthy too in terms of winning as long as it doesn't lead to laziness. I am talking about arrogance toward your own teammates. That is truly damaging to team effort, and it takes a team to win.

    So people are rightfully marveling about how Tebow has led the team to the playoffs, considering how they were losing before he came on board. What's so wrong with that?

    I think a lot of people don't like Tebow because they don't sense that he has paid his dues, he hasn't floundered around in the NFL for years before making his mark. If he takes the Broncos to the Superbowl, then they will really be foaming at the mouth.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Stan: You said, "I think a lot of people don't like Tebow because they don't sense that he has paid his dues, he hasn't floundered around in the NFL for years before making his mark. If he takes the Broncos to the Superbowl, then they will really be foaming at the mouth."

      Once again, most of the Tebow haters don't hate Tebow. We hate the people that refuse to give credit to anyone else BUT Tebow. The defense started playing a lot better. His coach adjusted the game plan to suit what he does well. Other teams have made really horrible mistakes, allowing the Broncos to stay in games they wouldn't have otherwise won.

      On top of that, while you're insisting that people are just hating Tebow, his fanbase is going off the other end of the spectrum with the implication that he's got some sort of intangible that makes him better than any other QB in the league! The extreme viewpoints are absurd, but the "haters" are hating the fanclub, not neo-Jesus.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  20. Stan

    Look, as an agnostic I admire Tim Tebow. He doesn't really promote his religion as so much he doesn't try to hide it, which is admirable. Giving thanks to God or whatever power you believe for the things you have is a way of staying humble. This is I think is people's main problem with Tebow, that he isn't full of himself. It's also why I think the Denver Broncos responded to him, he seems to be the opposite of the hot-shot quarterback who thinks and acts like he is better than the team.

    The movie " Miracle "makes a good point about this. It's a sure way to lose to get one or two arrogant superstars who play only for themselves, and not for the team as a whole.

    January 13, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • SeanNJ

      Yes, it's very important to squash individuality for the betterment of the collective.

      Right now, Tebow is, for all intents and purposes, Jesus. And just like Jesus, nobody hates him; we hate his fan club.

      January 13, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • TheOracle8191

      @ SeanNJ You're wrong about one part: plenty of people hated Jesus in his day, sadly.

      January 13, 2012 at 1:59 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.