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. Jacob the Elder

    Meh. Maher is so ridiculous that I am surprised anyone listens to him. Just a very large troll.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  2. the Pope

    If you're gods chosen few and going to spend an eternity in heaven why does something an atheist whose going to hell says cause such hate to flow from your mouth and fingers? Is it because you know you're living a lie?

    If you truly believe you wouldn't care. All powerful jesus will torture him for eternity, isn't that enough revenge to satisfy even the most religious fanatic?

    January 19, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
  3. Maya Pinion

    Bill who?

    January 19, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  4. Poop goes the weasel.

    Bill Haher enjoys sucking nig ger D!CKS.

    January 19, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • the Pope

      Then you two have something in common. By the way I'm ready for your next servicing. Bend down and put your hands together in front of your face to hold my manhood. You can pretend you're praying as you taste the body of christ.

      January 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • the Pope

      And thanks for furthering the stereotype that religious people are all racist. 😉

      January 19, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  5. Kyle

    Eric Marrapodi is a third-rate muck-raker posing as a legitimate journalist who should be fired.

    January 19, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  6. Milton

    Who's Tim Tebow? Anyway, if you REALLY think God or Jesus cares about the outcome of a football game, then you also should know why Christianity is in decline. Clearly Americans are in the process of swapping out their deities.

    January 19, 2012 at 5:39 am |
  7. JFritz

    Tim Tebow is about showing the world that Tim Tebow is a good, god-fearin' man. Uh, didn't Christ say something about humility in worship? From the big crosses on rock stars to the stupid kneeling on the playfield, these gestures are about ego, not devotion. You go Maher! Like anything that could create the multiverses would give a hoot about Tebow's game or false piety.

    January 18, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  8. zapatta

    Science teaches men how to go to the moon. Religion teaches men to fly airplanes into buildings!

    January 18, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Atheistsaretrolls

      That's a logical fallacy at it's finest. And it's funny because atheists are all about pulling the "logical fallacy" card.

      January 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      More accurate to say Religion made us hand our space program over to Russia and China. Don't want to make God mad by shooting rockets at His Heaven. The only thing I agree with Newt about is that as soon as someone puts a base on the Moon, they will control the Earth; that's the Chinese in five years. Argue religion all you want but your grandchildren will be Communists.

      January 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  9. Skegeeace

    Tim Tebow is nicer and cuter than Bill Maher anyway. Who cares what he thinks?!

    January 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  10. dugee

    The Lord helps those who help themselves. In other words the deity has no intention of of getting off the sidelines to help the Bad News Broncos.That pretty much goes to all of you who think prayers actually do anything more than to encourage self reflection.

    January 18, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  11. Lois

    I never knew there were so many atheists and skeptics until I started reading these blogs. Now I know not to read comments posted on a religious issue. It makes you wonder why so many of them are so angry, bitter sounding, and offensive. Obviously, shutting out faith isn't making them very happy. I won't be reading any more of these posts. It's too depressing.

    January 17, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • Jim the Atheist

      You sound bitter and angry, Lois. Your religion is clearly making you very unhappy. We see that a lot here. I feel sorry for you.

      January 17, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Jim the Atheist

      See how it sounds to be on the receiving end of such ridiculous stereotyping?

      January 17, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Skegeeace

      Seriously! Almost every atheist I've encountered (and I've met plenty, mostly in college and at work) are SO...ANGRY. I'm like, "Why are you so mad? If you know it all, have all the answers, and are so "above" it all, then shouldn't you be happier and better adjusted?"

      January 18, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Atheistsaretrolls

      Skeegeance hit the nail on the head.

      January 18, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • gritnix

      Atheists are angry because of the pervasive way religion finds its way into their lives regardless of the fact that they don't want it, and because of the threats it causes to everyone's lives. I don't need to go into threats, everyone knows to what that refers. Case in point on the pervasion: In US politics, there's never been a professed atheist make it through a primary, nor will there be probably in my lifetime. Why? Because religious voters won't vote for an atheist no matter how qualified he/she might be to hold office. That one issue will blind them to all others. Most atheists on the other hand will vote for a religious person based on merit to hold office, and overlook the fact that the candidate is religious.

      January 19, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Clancy

      Does anyone agree that this entire post is in direct contradiction with the 10 commandments. As I see it everyone on here is taking the Lord's name in Vane. Especially Tebow.

      January 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Don't be so angry and bitter – ask Santa Claus to bring you a lollipop, because He is REAL! If someone told you to shut your evil mouth every time you mentioned Jesus, and then slashed your tires to be sure you understood, you'd be angry too. But we just have to learn to understand God's message of love and peace, which boils down to "agree with me or die."

      January 23, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  12. whybs

    god helps Tim Tebow as much as he did for Michael Chang! 🙂

    January 17, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  13. andrea

    "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." Religious or not, even atheist...people need to stand together about nasty, mean people, PERIOD. Sickens me people think its ok to make money hurting or slamming others, thus they need to lose money. Sick of those in media, business,government and beyond who think they can capitalize on others for the sake of their own dollar. People need to raise their voices louder, amass together and quit giving attention to these media types who make everything drama, including their lives, their humor, their poor example of human caring and respect.I prefer to go back to reporting JUST the news(Cronkite) and really dont care much about hearing their opinions, they have no influence on most of us. They ar there to report news not try to sway opinion-oh wait! Of course they are, meeting the agenda of manipulation for which party? Which conglomerate? We all know well, and we all put up with it. Freedom of speech is one thing, but when you start using it for your own greater good and to be offensive to others, it only tells the rest of us, that your insults are to raise your own poor self esteem, get attention from it or you are simply a bully to make yourself feel better about your day.Hollywood, Sports, Government do not deserve the clout that they think they have and especially not the money they make.No jealousy here, but I dont glorify those who make the money off the rest of us then let it go to their heads. MAHER-"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". (What a jerk! From many atheists who are done watching YOU and your big EGO). People should start complaining to anyone who hires HIS HIGHNESS OF RUDENESS in his manic phase.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • zapatta

      Too long...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      January 18, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  14. derp

    Patriots 45
    God 10

    Looks like jesus needs to hire a new offensive coordinator.

    January 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • UhYeaOk

      Well, arn't you clever, you must have been up all night thinking of that one....dumbazz...

      January 17, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Bolts

      LOL – that was funny.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  15. danny

    Just Maher trying to recapture some attention, one pitiful person if you ask me, why anyone would pay any attention to any thing Bill has to say is beyond me.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • andrea


      January 17, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Alex

      Amusingly enough, it worked. YOU paid attention, did you not?

      January 18, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • fintastic

      Try and wrap your head around this....... IT'S COMEDY!!!.....

      January 19, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Bible Clown

      I was just about to start a church based on the sayings of Bill Maher. Don't you think that's a good idea?

      January 23, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  16. Kevin

    BLA, BLA, BLA....Its all crap anyway. Religion is used to control man. The idea of religion is good. Organized religion is a money hungry, hypocritical bunch of S%&T. Way to go Bill for calling out what is fake!

    January 17, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • Gipper1980

      Spoken like a true card-carrying Marxist. Lenin & his ilk believed religion to be the opiate of the masses. Sounds to me like you & Mr. Maher belong to the same Commie local.
      If anything, there is true freedom in religious belief. Without it, freedom is merely a whip-or-will. A dream. A mist. A fog.
      You, sir, are as blind as is Mr. Maher.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • derp

      "Lenin & his ilk believed religion to be the opiate of the masses."

      So did Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin mor on.

      I guess they were commies too.

      Go ahead, worship your silly sky daddy, unicorns, bigfoot, yeti or any other myth you like. Fortunately for you, it's a free country. Deluded nitwits are free to pray to any fairy godmother they choose.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "Lenin & his ilk believed religion to be the opiate of the masses." Gee, with you guys it's more like PCP.

      January 23, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  17. Sean from AK

    I'm Christian, but I can't stand Tim Tebow. What an arrogant jerk. He uses religion for his own publicity. Good on you, Bill.

    January 17, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • UhYeaOk

      Yea, your a Christian...I find that hard to believe. What has Tebow done wrong? To clean cut? His work with charity? His work with sick and dying kids? I think you need to invest in a bible and start reading it, you sure have no clue how to act like a Christian nor do you recognize a good one when you see it.

      January 17, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Atheistsaretrolls

      You're the first Christian that agrees with Maher. Or maybe someone who prefaces their comment with "I'm Christian" is about as Christian as an atheist.

      January 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      Sorry, you're not a Christian anymore. To be a Christian you have to defend Tebow. Ask any Christian.

      January 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  18. Mike

    Bill did not "take on" Tim Tebow; he merely flaunted his own ignorance.

    January 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • bill davis

      you mean flaunted Tebow's ignorance; Jesus, will you straighten these dummies out?

      January 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  19. william

    Some religious folks have a way of being defensive about their beliefs, as there is no way to prove them to a doubter. All religions have "miraculous" stories, and they all look like hokum to those of other faiths, much less to the agnostics in the crowd.

    January 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Gipper1980

      William, sorry to say that if there is any group of people who are intolerant, verbally abusive, and condescending it is those who have no belief at all. It has been my experience that the most defensive people are those who claim to be atheists and agnostics. Try to discuss anything of a religious nature with them and they quickly become defensive to extreme and resort to name calling and worse.
      Let us suppose (for argument's sake) that you & Mr. Maher are correct, i.e., there is no God. What, then, would be the harm in any one person believing there is a God? There is no harm. It doesn't harm you & it really doesn't harm the believer. But, let us suppose further (again, for argument's sake), there is a God. Who, then, would stand to lose the most or what harm would there be? For the non=believer – there would be plenty of harm. Of the eternal variety.
      Food for thought.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • derp

      "What, then, would be the harm in any one person believing there is a God? There is no harm. It doesn't harm you & it really doesn't harm the believer."

      So you are ok with people who believe in bigfoot, martians, unicorns, or the tooth fairy seeking to have a rational discourse with you?

      If someone said to you, "Unicorns created the universe and all of it's inhabitants" you would sit there and have a rational conversation with them where you would try to dissuade them of their belief that unicorns are the all powerful creators of the universe?

      That is how non-theists see your argument.

      January 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • andrea

      Agree with Gipper.Doesnt matter if youre religious or atheist, Ive seen intense people from both sides.For me, its a matter of respecting anothers belief, to each their own, AS LONG AS you are not forcing your belief on others or being rude or hurtful to anyone. Tebow is respectful to everyone, including those who speak aginst him(turning the other cheek). I prefer to be with tolerant people from either side who are respectful of all others, period.The division shouldnt be whether we are religious or not, it should be if we are good human beings, and the good people should be reaching out to those who have lost their way by being caring and helping them find a better path. But for those who demean people for doing something that to them and others is showing respect to God, Buddah, or other, why do we care as long as they are not hurting others, BUT MAHER and others with their condescending, mean words, ARE offensive and disrespectful.

      January 17, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      "What, then, would be the harm in any one person believing there is a God? There is no harm." Hurray, another naive person has re-invented Pascal's Wager. I'm not your mom, so look it up yourself. It's a fallacy, but have fun defending it.

      January 23, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      I'm no atheist; an angel told me there was no god. That's better than just disbelieving, right? Faith is a good thing.

      January 23, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  20. T-crit

    Don't quite get how T_Bow can be a devout Christian and also make money working on the Sabbath.

    Anyone care to explain that one? I mean, seeing as how it is one of the ten commandments, it's hardly a minor rule.

    January 16, 2012 at 6:41 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      I suggest you google Jimmy Fallons Tebow tribute...it mentions this and is quite humorous to say the least.

      January 16, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • cbinal

      First of all the Ten Commandments are in place to show man he can't live up to God's standards. Everyone breaks soemthing in the Ten Commandments almost daily, if not definetly weekly. Second, if you knew anything about the Bible, the Sabbath is Saturday, it actually starts at sundown on Friday through sundown on Saturday. Christians observer Sunday as worship being the first day of the week. Jesus said, "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."...Mark 2:27. The Sabbath is suppose to be an example for man to rest one day a week.

      January 16, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Gipper1980

      Your response (if it can rightly be called a 'response') shows your ignorance of the Bible & Chrisitanity. The Sabbath was and is a Jewish Holy Day & not for Christians.
      Christianity's founder, Jesus Christ, told the known world that there isn't one day holier than another, but that the Sabbath was to be observed by His fellow Hebrews as a remembrance for what God had done for the nation of Israel. Christians generally meet on Sunday as the day Jesus is purported to have risen. The Sabbath for Jews is from Friday at sundown until Saturday at sundown.
      You really should research things before posting, because you're falling into the same silly trap that Mr. Maher does, which is a manifestation of his ego that he tries to pass off as intelligence. In Mr. Maher's case, ignorance is bliss.
      Leave us not forget how 'caring' Mr. Maher is as the same year Steve Irwin died from being stuck by a stingray tail through the heart, Mr. Maher showed up at a Hallowe'en party as the departed Mr. Irwin. Classy, wouldn't you say?
      Bill Maher has no concern for anyone or anything other than massaging his ego at the expense of anyone who dares to call into question his views. He's intolerant and shows very clearly and proudly that he's willing to go to any length to besmirch and belittle any other person's view that doesn't match with his narrow positions.
      And if he's a man you admire, you're as shortsighted as he.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Luke

      If you live in the Old Testament times. The new covenant changed things, read your Bible, educate yourself before speaking.

      January 17, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • UhYeaOk

      @T crit, you should just shut up while your...behind, no need to make yourself look like an even bigger fool...

      January 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • bill davis

      The days of the week are man-made, dumba–! I can't explain it any better than that.

      January 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Bible Clown

      The Sabbath Day is Saturday, of course. What are you, a heretic?

      January 23, 2012 at 1:57 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.