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. sybaris

    Funny how the christian frothing about divine association died with the end of the Bronco's winning streak.

    So now what is it?

    Your god is teaching Tebow a lesson?
    We can't know your gods will?
    The lord works in mysterious ways?


    December 29, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      I specifically told Tebow that he needed to bring some incense and candles for the sideline. Maybe prop up a little altar too where he can do his Tebowing. He didn't listen! and now look! They lost the game! Incense and candles I told him. Jesus likes incense and candles. Tebow didn't listen to me OBVIOUSLY!

      December 29, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Earl Weaver

      Do you ridicule other players for their shuck-n-jive in the end zone? I doubt it. Admit it, religion scares you, doesn't it?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • sybaris


      Haven't heard that one in a looong time.

      Let's see who's under the hood.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • Chach

      Easy answer: Teabow is incurably gay and God is punishing him for it.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      I'd say that Tebow's "tebowing" is more of a spectacle to be laughed at than something to be scared of. From MY point of view, he's making a mockery of the Christian God, as if his God doesn't have better things to do than win a game of football for a football millionaire. It's just. . .well, hilarious.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • Chach

      Tea-blow. Think about it.......

      December 29, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  2. Jim Beranis

    Jesus was too busy to help Tebow out in the 4th quarter on account of it being xmas eve people!!! Gotta hand it to Maher for texting the Hitler word. That's catastrophe for anyone. He's got more balls then Tebow by a longshot.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • Jim Beranis

      He was watching Santa's back!!

      December 29, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • Earl Weaver

      Gee, Hank Williams, Jr. mentioned Hitler and look what happened to him with the Monday Night Football. The open season on the Christian faith continues.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • sybaris

      Earl, you live in a country that claims 80% affiliation with christianity. You can't swing a cat without hitting a church. There's christian bookstores in every town, prayer before sporting events, the government gives its employees a day off for Christmas, there's televangelists 24/7on the TV and radio, there's god on our money and a freakin bible in every hotel room. No Earl, you're not being persecuted, you just need to turn off Fox News, stop reading your bogus email, go buy some big-boy pants and quit whining.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  3. Steve the Goat

    Teabag doesn't reply because he doesn't have the mental capacity to form a coherent thought. It's all praise jeebus. The religious nutjubs like him are lacking brain cells.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  4. Joshua

    It's funny how supposedly passive and morally superior atheists are literally obsessed with deriding Christians. Try this with islam and you'll get fired. Do it to Christians and you'll get a pat on the back.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • sybaris

      Did you get that at Ad-Homs-R-Us?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • Mason

      I actually believe in some sort of power or "god" if you will...I just don't believe that Christianity or Islam or Judaism or any of them has any insight into this "god"....Religions are the opposite of "god" in my view and probably millions of other peoples as well.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • chickaboom

      It has nothing to do with being obsessed with Christians. It has everything to do with Christian's pushing their belief system at all costs. Whether it be global warming, stem cell research, LGBT rights, taxation, health care, welfare, vaccination, education, evolution...need I go on? In all these areas and more, Christians cry foul, so the rest of us who are bound for hell, well, can go to hell for all they care.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  5. Tony D

    Bill M. is not a man. bill is a hate filled freak. He's also ugly and very angry at God about that. He prides himself by taking shots at peaceful, love-filled, well centered people, who have enough self respect to not participate with his idiocy – so bill thinks he is so smart and winning.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • HolyRoller

      Wrong side of the bed this morning?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • tony d has no clue

      hey tony d – you know bill is an atheist, therefore he can't be angry at god. think before you open your mouth (or in this case, type).

      December 29, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • sybaris

      On cue, that old christian attack mantra, "he's/she's an angry atheist", "he's/she's an intellectual elitist".

      I'll wager you've never had a one on one conversation with the man.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • Chach

      Why do you hate atheists?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  6. Mason

    Well I knew Muslims have no sense of Humor but now Christians as well....Come on.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • JDevil1735

      Well I haven't heard of any Christians threatening to behead Bill Maher. If you want to compare a Christian reaction to a Muslim one – let's be fair then.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • tim

      The only reason Christians can't behead anymore is because their faith is waning in power. Take a stroll back to in time and you'll see what the Christians did when they had power. Pretty ugly stuff on par with Islam. Don't take my word for it. Ask the Incas, the Jews, the Muslims, other Christians. Why are they tamer now and only occasionally bomb abortion clinics and try to weasel their way into government? Because the West is smarter thanks to science and reason.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:13 am |
  7. Earl Weaver

    Mock a Muslim's religious beliefs and watch what happens. The double standard is appalling.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • JDevil1735

      We have – cartoonists get executed.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • sybaris

      Right Earl, the court dockets are stacked with suits filed by offended Muslims. There's christians being gunned down in the streets, white women will only marry black men, dogs and cats are mating together. It's pandamonium!!

      Earl, the 1860's called, they want their prejudice back.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
    • tim

      Go back in time. Christians have a worse legacy than the Nazis.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:14 am |
  8. JMonty

    Based on what the Bills did to the Broncos last week, "Tebowing" had been redefined as what the new guy does on his first night in prison. On the bright side, at least you're still on your knees.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Maybe he should have knelt a little longer. . .perhaps he should bring some incense and candles for the next game. I'm quite sure Jesus likes incense and candles.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  9. Ajay

    "For all the furry aimed at Maher for the Tebow crack..."

    Just how much "furry" is aimed at Maher? Probably more than one might think...

    December 29, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  10. tea party

    Bill makes a great point....everytime someone has something good happend to them they call it "blessed" what about the teams that lose...what about tragedies that happen all the time to innocent children

    December 29, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • Larry L

      I think God is too busy during football season. Here in Texas Governor Perry held a prayer rally to end the drought but all we got was fires and a good part of the East Coast of the US got flooded. Either God or Governor Perry clearly dropped the ball here. It could be that with all of the high school football games, with many field goals, extra points, and touchdowns to monitor God was simply stretched too thin. Maybe we should develop some sort of "call waiting" technology to que the prayers in at a controlled rate. Or maybe it's all a bunch of crap.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • Joshua

      Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

      Sinful men, and even believers are more inclined to praise God for the great and obvious blessings which He gives. However even job praised God in the midst of his tragedy, and recognized that his tragedy was the result of God's will.

      I do not recall, however, a passage in the scripture which states that a believer will win a thousand consecutive football games.

      Maher has no point, except to simply insult tebow for believing in something other than himself and his cash.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:38 pm |
    • Larry L

      After reading Joshua's comment my life is changed and I regret my sinful ways. Just kidding... it's all nonsense. I am amused at how the devout fall into tha biblical speech pattern. It's like they feel more connected when they use holy lingo. "Holy Lingo" would be a good name for a rock band.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  11. Scott

    While the news has a right to publicize any story they wish let's remember it's up to the viewer to decide what it is he or she believes in and the ideology they wish to follow. Bill Maher's comments are only powerful because you, the reader, listener, watcher, viewer give him power. If you don't like what he says then cancel your subscription to HBO and let HBO know why your'e doing so. Yes, it may be inconvenient, as there may be other shows you may like, but you either have a principle you live by or you give credence to what Bill Maher says. Is that really what you want to do? Quit giving this guy the satisfaction of being heard. You, the audience, only have yourselves to blame.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  12. agathokles

    My problem with Tebow isn't that he's super religious; no, it's that he tries to be showy about it. He never misses an opportunity to plug his image by mentioning that he just visited some child cancer patient in a hospital. Christians who "get it" let their actions speak for them. They aren't purposefully showy, but go about their lives in quiet, exemplary fashion that prompts others ask, "What makes him/her act like that?" Their examples speak for them. Tebow seems like the Pharisees that Jesus berates in Matthew 23:1-7; 13-33: "...All their works are performed to be seen..."

    December 29, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Earl Weaver

      But it's OK for other players to express themselves in the end zone and nothing is ever said (nor should there be). Anything goes as long as it doesn't draw a flag.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
  13. chickaboom

    When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

    But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    Matthew 6: 5-6

    December 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • agathokles


      December 29, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
    • DeeCee1000

      Gawd I wish more of these religious fanatics would read that part of the bible. They seem to conveniently skip over it or pretend it's not there.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Chach


      December 29, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
  14. dimanchi1

    Thou canst make this stuff up....the narrow minder Christians are offended once again. What if a muslin, budhits or other religion denomination player was doing what this guys is doing? everybody would be laughing, just like I am laughing at Maher's joke..keep it up Bill

    December 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Earl Weaver

      Yeah, and if a Muslim were ridiculed like Tebow, your panties would be in a wadd so fast you'd need CPR.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  15. AtheistSteve

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.....Classic...I love Bill Maher and watch every episode of Real Time. He regularly rips into the Republitards and any public figure religious freak is fair game too. If this got all the poor persecuted Christians panties in a bunch then so much the better. Grow a sense of humor already.
    Tebow is a football player. That's what he gets paid to do. If he chooses to wear his faith on his sleeve(or eye black) he's simply asking for comedians to take swings at him.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  16. RawHoney

    Maher is only 'funny' for very few who already align with his ideology. What's disturbing here is "comedian Pete Dominick said "Our job is to push the envelope...... You can make a joke about my kids getting cancer as long as it's funny". Some day if that lobotomize psycho has children with cancer and maher jokes about it will THAT will not be funny to him. But check out this Peace on earth: "Police storm Church of the Nativity to break up brawling priests" ??? I'd say holy Christ to that one.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  17. Chris

    How many times do people have to tell evengelizers they could care less about there religous edicts? I don't think any religion written by humans (centuries after the death of the son of god ) can be taken seriuosly. So I don't care if you think I'm going to hell. I think your wasting what little time you have on earth hating people unlike you and constantly insulting them and their beliefs.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • RawHoney

      The nuns told me I was going to hell & I believed them. So I decided to enjoy as much "sin" as possible since my 'future' was foretold.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
  18. ashrakay

    HAHA! Keep going Bill! A voice of sanity in an insane world.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  19. Cielo

    Am I the only one that finds all this tebow madness bordering on, well... IDOLATRY?? I mean, REALLY! Getting upset because a comedian makes fun of the all-out-on-my-sleeve religious posturing that tebow does is just insane! Personally I think tebow is a fake and a flake. Lucky as all get-out, but not a particularly good QB.And all that public posturing about his religion is just obscene and embarassing. WITNESS with acts of kindness, NOT by kneeling everywhere as if JC didn't have anything better to do than help you win a football game.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  20. Charlie Young

    You know he has to be the ugliest SOB alive, so, he has to take it all out on anyone who is important at the moment. (other than himself.) He may have a following BUT, does anyone know anything about his private life, has to be so miserable to take it all out on everyone and everything else just to get a laugh. Old saying " EVERYONE IS AN EXPERT 50 MILES FROM HOME"
    God Bless him and his family (if he has one).. he is one screwed up SOB. Keep it going, what goes around comes around.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • What's more likely

      Geeeze... If you can't debate his point, retreat to name calling.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:25 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.