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. Alex

    They weren't playing Detroit! They were playing BUFFALO!!!!!!! Come on and show some Buffalove for God's sake!

    December 29, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  2. james

    Jesus isnt helpin Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry either..Hmmmm ?

    December 29, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  3. Larry Teegarden

    Love Maher and his irreverance. Our country is under attack from the religous whackos, and it is refreshing to hear from someone not afraid to take them on!

    December 29, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
    • MrCurve

      This country isn't anymore under attack now by "religious whackos" than it has ever been before in the past and has done just fine. It's individuals like Maher who are doing the attacking.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • ashrakay

      @MrCurve, Ignorance is the enemy of us all, and one should never miss an opportunity to weed it out of a reasoning society. Belief in an invisible super hero in the sky without verifiable evidence is a practice that should be reserved for children, not grown men. Imagine if Teebo were praying to Santa Clause for his success in football. It's just as ridiculous to thinking people that hear he's praying to god.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  4. agathokles

    Aaron Rodgers:
    "Well I started playing before Tim, so these are things I've thought about for a long time, and I think one thing that I try to look at when I was a younger player, and I mean, in high school, junior college and Division I, I was always interested in seeing how guys talked in their interviews, talked about their faith, or didn't talk about their faith. And then the reactions at times, I know Bob Costas at one point was critical about a player thanking Jesus Christ after a win, questioning what would happen if that player had lost, or do you really think God cares about winning and losing.

    "I feel like my stance and my desire has always been to follow a quote from St. Francis of Assisi, who said, 'Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.' So basically, I'm not an over-the-top, or an in-your-face kind of guy with my faith. I would rather people have questions about why I act the way I act, whether they view it as positive or not, and ask questions, and then given an opportunity at some point, then you can talk about your faith a little bit. I firmly believe, just personally, what works for me, and what I enjoy doing is letting my actions speak about the kind of character that I want to have, and following that quote from St. Francis."

    December 29, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  5. Kris

    Who cares? He's a lousy QB anyways.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  6. Frank!

    I don't care what anyone says - BILL MAHER ROCKS!!!!!!!!

    Bill, keep giving them h*ll!!!!

    December 29, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
  7. AthensGuy

    What kind of selfish, f***uk**ed up, idiotic god/Jesus is it that spend its time helping a football player while hundreds of millions die of famine, disease and as "collateral damage" in wars?

    December 29, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Rockets Redglare

      Jesus does seem to be a media whore, doesn't he?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • MrCurve

      Oh, and you believe in Santa Claus too, right? Listen, it' individuals like yourself that say things like, "If there is a God, then why are their millions of starving children".

      Individuals who state that, don't have a clue as to what God is all about...

      December 30, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • fintastic

      answer? There is no god. God was an invention of man to control man.

      January 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  8. Prle

    I don't believe in Jesus and God for the same reason you people don't believe in Apollo or Zeus...

    December 29, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  9. Maurice

    The way I like to look at is "Who is the better person"? Who is gracious, thankful, humble, and tries to do the best at their job without the expense of others? We all have bad days at the office; which one – Tim or Bill, takes responsibility and doesn't place blame on others. Tim demonstrates leadership – lead by example, have strong convictions, and demonstrate those convictions in a mature and peaceful manner. I applaud Tim for his actions and support him,and others like him, completely. Bill is devisive and behaves in an immature fashion; he makes a living being this way. I am saddened by Tim's supporters that have ill wishes towards Bill and Bill's supporters (e.g., wishing for someone's child to have cancer) – that is not a mature reaction but an emotional one. The best way to boycott Bill and the behavior that Bill invokes is to not fall prey to his comments – be the better person and focus on leading and helping others, not on falling to his level and behaving in the same fashion as him and his supporters. Bill – I truly feel sorry for you and your supporters as you seem to be very miserable people. Who have you helped today – besides yourself?

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

      Being religious does not make Tim Tebow the better person. If you put ANY thought into it at all, you'd realize that Tebow's ridiculous misguided displays of faith prove that he's exactly the opposite of humble. Putting the question of faith and divinity aside, his assumption that the creator of the universe really cares whether his football team wins is arrogant and egocentric and his public displays of faith are pious and indignant. Now this brings to light the bigger issue: believe in whatever you want, but LEAVE IT AT HOME WHERE IT BELONGS!

      December 30, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  10. Tomtom

    I like much of Bill's commentary and honesty, but I wish he would lighten up on religion. People are going to worship something...they always have. Some folks worship God. Some folks worship money. Some folks worship celebrity. Not all religion is perverted priests or murderous crusades. Some folks are actually sincere and do their good works quietly,, without being lunatic right wing nuts or crazed anything goes liberals. Live and let live.

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

      Well I don't know about worship....but money and celebrities actually exist.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  11. jen

    "It was insulting Tim Tebow, not Jesus Christ, that drew the ire of a nation."

    That speaks volumes.

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

      Actually it doesn't.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  12. P Miller

    One day, some time in the not too distant future, the Lord Himself will appear in front of Bill Maher. The Lord won't have to say one word-- just one glimpse of His presence, and even Bill Maher will bow his knee and declare Jesus is Lord. Looking forward to seeing Bill Maher tebowing before the Lord. Bill, you can bow your knee now, or not-- but EVERY knee will bow later! He's God-you're not!

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

      And you know this.. how?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      Fat chance...not gonna happen.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Tim

      LOL, you live in fantasy land if you think that would ever happen.

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

      How about the spaghetti monster?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Gordon

      Very true for all of us!

      December 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Freedom

      I believed in Santa Claus once. I stayed up all night next to the fireplace. But he never came.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • ashrakay

      What's the whole thing about god needing everyone on their knees.... just sounds kind of gay to me.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  13. peter

    hes actually not an atheist because atheism is the same as religion in the sense that both are arrogant enough to have a 100% belief in something that can't be 100% proven. anyway he makes good points and in his movie he pokes fun at several religions and really hits the nail on the head with his comments. how can anyone dispute what he said on christmas that jesus shares the same story as 5 or 6 deities who came before him or the fact that the story of jesus was written by people who didnt actually witness his life and skip like 30 years of it. i mean religion is cool with bringing family together and all that jazz but the actual stories and beliefs of religion is total crap and ridiculous and peoples' response is always the same, well i just believe so its ok... religion is believing in something blindly and in most cases is just stuff you are brainwashed to believe as a kid and then when you get older its all you have ever known so why not keep believing in this crazy thing and if you start believing later in life its usually due to bad times and nothing else to believe in . for some people religion is just a personal thing and it doesnt get in the way of everyday life or the lives of people they encounter but for many religion plays a major role in their decision making and certainly affects people they encounter or possibly people they rule over and its a big concern that they would make decisions based off something that is stupid and not definitely true. certainly we are smart enough to realize that either most people on earth are wrong in their beliefs and only one religion is right or if all religion is right and god is just playing games with us and shouldnt be worshipped because he is cruel

    December 29, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • Fight4It

      Cool, but what a brain fart. You feel better now 🙂

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

      Actually Mahar never said he is 100% sure there is no God, nor does atheism make that claim

      December 29, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      You don't know what atheism is. It's about belief, not knowledge. No atheist claims 100% certainty about god not being real...doing so would place the burden of proof on us. You are making a mistake in thinking that Atheists are Gnostic...we're not...we're agnostic.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Eric

      Atheism is a word made up by the religious, it means no god or godless. Is there an Asantaist? Santaless? Atheism, conceded by some out of the ease of not having to explain how stupid the word is, is not the same as religion.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
    • Jeff

      "hes actually not an atheist because atheism is the same as religion in the sense that both are arrogant enough to have a 100% belief in something that can't be 100% proven."

      You do realize that there are scientific principles that we believe to be 100% correct that we cannot prove yet either right?

      Just because you cannot prove something true doesn't make it untrue. It just means you cannot prove it. Science and religion share are alike in that they both rely on faith to come to conclusions. In science we call it a hypotesis but in reality it is faith that the system will behave as we believe it will.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • peter

      i clearly said atheism is a belief and its a belief that rejects the idea of a deity being agnostic is the belief of not knowing. the two are not the same

      December 29, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • Reality

      "hes actually not an atheist because atheism is the same as religion in the sense that both are arrogant enough to have a 100% belief in something that can't be 100% proven..."

      Like unicorns, fairies, and the flying spaghetti monster? Atheists weigh the immense probability that a omnipotent, omnipresent, and personal God exists against the probability that the scientific theory of evolution is correct and sides in favor of science. Since you seem to be speaking in more deistic terms vice theistic then we still side with science, because all scientific theories (a.k.a. facts) can be explained with the need for a deistic God.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:56 pm |
    • peter

      i agree with that point that science is also something that you have to believe in because the universe and earth and continents and everything makes absolutely no sense no matter how much we know about them, but there are many more truths in science then in religion. science shows how a volcano erupts or how it rains... science gives us information on how things work or happen but does not show why things happen or work while religion doesn't do either

      December 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • Reality

      CORRECTION – typographical error

      "hes actually not an atheist because atheism is the same as religion in the sense that both are arrogant enough to have a 100% belief in something that can't be 100% proven..."

      Like unicorns, fairies, and the flying spaghetti monster? Atheists weigh the immense probability that a omnipotent, omnipresent, and personal God exists against the probability that the scientific theory of evolution is correct and sides in favor of science. Since you seem to be speaking in more deistic terms vice theistic then we still side with science, because all scientific theories (a.k.a. facts) can be explained WITHOUT the need for a deistic God.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • AtheistSteve


      Agnostic/Gnostic isn't about belief...it's about knowledge. If you claim to know something you are taking a Gnostic stance. If you claim you don't know you are taking an Agnostic stance.

      Atheist/ Theist is about belief....not knowledge.

      Too often people get these terms mixed up. There are only 4 possible positions for your belief in God
      1)Gnostic Theist
      2)Agnostic Theist
      3)Gnostic Atheist
      4)Agnostic Atheist

      December 30, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • ashrakay

      I say this like a thousand times, but religions require a deity. Not believing in god is the same thing as not believing in fairies, or the easter bunny. We are not atheists. We are REALISTS.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  14. Streetsmt

    If you believe god is responding to Tebow's football prayers, then it's not really that much crazier to believe Satan is talking to Hitler about the screwjob Tebow just got from JC.

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

      None of us know what Tebow is praying. Maybe he is praying for wisdom, strength, not to get hurt nor his team mates. Tebow never said he prays to God to let his team win.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • peter

      he actually did say he was praying that the bears kicker would miss that kick at the end of regulation

      December 30, 2011 at 12:05 am |
  15. asdfasdfasd


    December 29, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  16. Todd

    If you're going to thank jesus for everything good then you have to place responsibility on him when things don't work out too. That's what Bill Maher was pointing out to the millions of people who have trouble thinking for themselves. Remember he's a comedian and Satan tebowing in hell bragging to hitler is a pretty funny situation.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
  17. 80shiling

    Because God REALLY cares who wins a freaking FOOTBALL game!!

    The narcissism involved in believing That God has bestowed his power and grace on you specifically to win a football game is nauseating and more especially, arrogance of the highest order..

    Those that use God's name tp self-aggrandize themselves, are sickening..

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

      Bill Maher calls it like he sees it. He says what he thinks. What HE thinks. Not what someone has told him to think. It's too bad the majority of people can't be that intellectually strong.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • Maurice

      Does Tim not pray when they lose as well? It is not about thanking for the win, but thanking for the opportunity to play and to perform to the best of their abilities at that time. It is about being thankful for what we have, not what we want. How is that arrogant?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • Jeff

      If you believe that God is almighty, the creator of heaven and earth, punisher of the wicked, and the redeemer then he would have to involved in the victory in one way or another wouldn't he?

      December 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • fintastic

      That's right Jeff... just like children who are dying of cancer.

      January 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  18. Robin Bray

    T-Bore. And Jesus was gay. Deal with it.

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

    Reality, sites like NFL.com blocked anyone from posting support for Bill! Free speech, if you have people insinuating that TB won by the grace of God then he lost by that same grace...maybe they should've picked Brady or Rogers...You have a bible belt that thinks they can force the rest of the country into their moral views...in fact most of them are out of the lines when it comes to Christians, raised Baptist and converted to Catholicism over a decade ago I find nothing wrong with what Bill Maher said!

    December 29, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Frank!

      Nothing good about Maher gets through.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  20. Kevin

    Religion is so annoying (to say the least).

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


      December 29, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Frank!

      AMEN!! But, it usually not the religion. Rather, it's the overzealous followers.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37
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.