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. Drama freak

    This Tebow and evangelical Christian thing has gotten way out of line.
    Practice what ever religion you wish, but please try to keep the over done public displays to a minimum.
    Bill Maher has the right to do and say what he does just as much as Tebow as a right to make a religious fool of himself in public ever time he jumps into his jock strap.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • CaneMan

      Or, how about just be exactly who you are... like this man (Tebow) does. And, let others be who they are, like Maher. One position builds people up, the other rips them down... take your pick.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:14 am |
  2. Freethinker

    Reason why more American are becoming atheist:

    Love your enemies? Jesus actually hated and cursed his enemies with eternal hell (Matthew 13: 41-42; 23: 13-33; Mark 9: 48-49).
    Also: "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?" (Matthew 23:33)

    For the people who offended his followers like some of you atheists contributing to this forum right now, Jesus threatened: "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea". (Matthew 18:6).

    Christian family value? Jesus said: "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26)

    Jesus, in parable, taught: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." (Luke 19:27)

    December 30, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • kingnpriest

      Those comments were directed to the religious hypocrites. Jesus knew their heart was only about themselves, and they only sought the praise of men. That is why they were called snakes. The parable of the talents is directed at those who are given much but choose not to believe, thus rejecting the God who called out to them. Jesus, in telling others to "hate" others over him, is telling us to have His will above all, and if those who we love refuse to follow Jesus, then we will not change our ways because of them. We still love them, but have our lives centered around Christ!

      December 30, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • Freethinker

      The one who preached to love your enemies and in the mean time cursed them to eternal hell matches the definition of hypocrisy more than anything else. I am sorry but that's the truth.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • kingnpriest

      You make yourself as just as God? Trust me, God knows what He is doing. Jesus wept over Jerusalem and the religious Jews, saying He wished he could gather them under His wings, but they would not. Luke 13:34-35 They always killed the prophets, and those who pointed out their hypocracy. The righteous judgement of God will not be held back for those who reject the God who made them, Jesus was merely pointing out a fact to them of where they were headed in their current condition. It was their rejection of Him that made their eternal destiny, and the same will be for you. Re-examine the scriptures, and be not faithless but believe!

      December 30, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  3. mofo

    Bills lame show must need a boost. what an attention w h o r e

    December 30, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • mickey1313

      his rateings would show otherwise you ignorant thiestic hypocrite.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  4. Tear it down

    FInd the good and crush it. You go Bill. Stoke the fires of anarchy.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      He's only making fun of something MANY people already think is hilarious.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:12 am |
  5. Wright Tern

    All religions are cults.

    My whole life as a Christian, I never saw a bit of proof. Ever. From anyone at anytime. It didn't matter to me because I was insane and participating in a group psychosis. Now I am free. I'm not in your nasty little cult anymore.
    Sincerity is not proof that something is true.
    Dying for something does not make it true.
    We are not liable for what other people do if we were not involved in the first place.
    Emotional feedback is not proof that something is true.
    Emotions and feelings have no relation to the truth. They are caused by brain chemicals, not by anything supernatural.
    The Bible is a mishmash of different fables and extreme exaggerations and outright lies.
    Every so-called holy text in existence is made-up.
    I could go on, but why should I bother? When you are a participant in the group psychosis, you are a prisoner of the mind.
    What believer will listen to reason regarding their faith or what it's based on...when reason opposes religion?
    Many believers do not like to think about other religions in a way that might show the weaknesses in their own religion.
    They refuse to question the very causes of their religion. They think they already know it, yet they have never seen any proof of it themselves.
    I remember what it was like and how lobotomized I felt when deep in "faith."
    I can recreate my "faith" just by remembering how it felt.
    I KNOW that "faith" is a mental disconnect with perception and reality and awareness.
    It is a mental filter that strangles a person's ability to think realistically about almost everything.

    Religion has shown time and time again that it is nothing but group-psychosis that is also a giant hoax on the victims.
    Like any group-psychosis, most inside of it find companionship, comfort, and repeated reinforcement of the "tenets" and special propaganda and anything that can be used to explain any obvious hole in the shared-psychotic-belief.

    Hey, when I busted out of it, I made sure I was correct in every supposition. My faith was deep, but I clawed my way out and escaped the clutches of anyone who might use my religion against me by making sure I was being reasonable about it.
    Logic and common sense and science knowledge are tools for freedom from delusion. Any delusion.

    Proof is impossible because there is no "God", no "Jesus", no "Holy Spirit", no supernatural anything.
    There is no way I'd ever willingly pretend that a lie is true.

    That's why I'm an atheist. I'm more honest than you believers.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • mofo

      and by the sounds of it pretty self righteous...

      December 30, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • Wright Tern

      And you are of the religion of where you were born. nothing more.

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

      I'm sorry for you friend, as it sounds like you have become a reprobate, unable ever again to be brought to faith. The judgement will be aweful for you, and full of regreg due to your unbelief, and rejection of Christ. You don't base faith on feelings and emotions, but rather on truth. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. John 14:6 I pray you will re-examine what you have done, and perhaps God will again grant you repentance unto life!

      December 30, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • 80shiling

      One of the best and most honest posts I have ever read; brave as well.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:29 am |
    • Larry L

      kingnpriest don't feel sorry for him – feel sorry for yourself for wasting your life. You've reduced your own worth by hiding in the shadow of a mythological figure who continues to grow as men contribute their own interpretation of his "glory". It gets grander and more mystical with each revision. He doesn't speak to you – you speak to yourself. He doesn't answer prayers – you give him credit for good outcomes and feel you've failed him when disaster strikes. If some spiritual situation exists it's certainly not going to resemble the gods men created to rule mankind. God didn't write the Bible... think about it... he really didn't.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:08 am |
  6. John Mahon

    So, he made a comment about a guy doing quite poorly in a football game!! This is something to have a fit over??? In reality, who really gives a crap and buys into all this hype about the Denver quarterback???? Got to be thousands of other much more important things to concern oneself with. Get a life and try to enjoy a little enlightenment one in a while!!!!!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  7. Janet

    First and foremost, Tim Tebow is a crappy quarterback. In the NFL alone, he just doesn't hit the mark. He was good in college, so somebody should have made him a running back in the NFL. He can run the ball into the end zone. Secondly, he is an amazing Christian, and I really do respect that. He's of some Protestant faith, and I'm a devout Catholic. Once again, I respect that of him. Since he was blown up in the media during his NCAA days into the Next Best Thing In the NFL Draft, he sort of sputtered and the only thing that the sports media is able to do is pick on the fact he likes to pray while on the side lines. Oh my gosh!!! If anyone really wants to make a big deal out of this, do not blame Tim Tebow. Blame his lousy parents. The ones who were Christians before him, and raised him as one as they did with his older siblings. Let us all cast stones onto Mr. and Mrs. Tebow for doing such a thing. Now, there are a lot of pro atheletes, current and retired, who do practice their faiths and do so on the side lines and player boxes. Ilya Kovalchuk, of the New Jersey Devils, is Russian and of the Catholic faith–Eastern Rites. When taking to the bench before his shift on ice during the first period, he'll cross himself in the Eastern Rite way, and chew a bit on his glove. He has always done this since becoming an NHL player. Theo Fleury, former Calgary Flame-Colorado Avalanche-NY Rangers-Chicago Blackhawks, in his junior days of hockey, would skate onto the ice to the goal net, pick up some ice shavings and make a sign of the cross on the ice surface and then cross himself before skating back to the face off circle or bench. Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers, would cross himself before batting. Where is the scorn?! Where is the backlash?!?! Bill Maher is the only one who likes the sound of his own voice. And his film Religuous, was a total waste. There was nothing correct about it.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • Peppermint Patty

      Where did you come from ? So much intelligence. Please visit more often. 😉

      December 30, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • Janet

      @PeppermintPatty, thanks and I hope you weren't being sarcastic. But truth be told, sports publications and newspapers sell when there is something hot(or lame)to print.

      December 30, 2011 at 3:37 am |
    • fintastic

      Janet; his film Religuous was truthful AND funny...

      I especially liked the part where he's interviewing the preacher with the $1000 shoes, expensive suits and gold who told Bill "god wants me to have these things"... It's really a riot!

      January 19, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  8. Hugh McNeela

    Mather, I have lost all respect.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:06 am |
  9. Freethinker

    Bill Maher was just teasing the idea that God who clearly did not have time to help or save recent hurricane, earthquake, flood victims and still manage to have time to help Tebow win football games.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Tony

      Not only did God have time to determine floods, fires, and earthquakes, He also saw fit to give you the strength to type dishonorable things about Him- and you still don't believe that He's good? Repent from your own self reliance, your own sinful self asserting "goodness" and embrace the goodness of God in Christ!

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

      Tony, I bet you have never read the Bible for yourself ever, but only understand it through the "interpretation" of the priests and preachers. You are smart enough to read it from cover to cover to discover it by yourself. Please gather your courage and do it!

      December 30, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • mickey1313

      you are a stupid stupid person. If I am wrong, for the sake of argument, when I go up to the clouds, and am shown that I was wrong, and asked to repent, I have an easy answer. I would not repent and I would chastize any god that had the arogance for placing the evidance of a natural earth for us to fund, then leaveing no proof of himself, then alowing false followers to write false books in his name and do harm to his people. If the tetragramaton (god of abraham) is real, he is spineless and sadistic.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:00 am |
  10. kingnpriest

    These guys like Maher only pick on people they can bully. They would never put anyone on their show who can challenge them, and call them on the carpet. He is a fool, as are all athiests. Psalm 14:1 "The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God" They have not even began to learn, as Proverbs 1:7 states, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." The judgement will be horrendous on them, more tolerable for Ninevah, and Sodom, because the vast amount of information available, yet they choose to not believe. BELIEVE Joh 14:6!

    December 30, 2011 at 12:03 am |
    • Freethinker

      God punished a woman by making her so hungry, she'll eat her own baby. "The most tender and delicate woman among you – so delicate she would not so much as touch her feet to the ground – will be cruel to the husband she loves and to her own son or daughter. She will hide from them the afterbirth and the new baby she has borne, so that she herself can secretly eat them. "(Deuteronomy 28:45-57 NLT). Wow! And they keep on saying that God is love.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • Janet

      THANK YOU!

      December 30, 2011 at 12:08 am |
  11. a Denver non-fan of Tebow or the Broncos

    I agree. Tebow and his "look at me, I'm so pious" antics just beg to be mocked. Keep right on, Maher. We love you. And if Tebow is such a great athlete, why did the Broncos get creamed in their last two games? What will be really funny to watch will be the fury of his adoring Denver fans once Tebow gets offered more money by another team and leaves Denver. I can hardly wait.

    December 30, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  12. Greg


    December 29, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
  13. Randy

    Hey Eric – you said "For all the furry aimed at Maher for the Tebow crack,", you either meant "fury" or were referring to all of the little furry animals aimed at Tebow's crack" cuz everyone knows he's gay.( 8>)

    December 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
  14. Paul F

    It was the BUFFALO BILLS On Christmas Eve destroying the Denver Broncos NOT the Detroit Lions. The brightest for the lowly Bills in 2 months and the writer blows it. "Thank you Jesus" – Kurt Warner, thanks Kurt.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
  15. CaneMan

    Issue is, once again... this is not a-theism... it is anti-theism... there is a clear difference. This is the American "atheist", as they are defining themselves.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Um, anti-thiest and athiest are the same. If you believe in a fairy god, then you must accept that 60% of americans know you are stupid.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:55 pm |
    • James PDX

      Actually, it was just a comedian making a funny joke that most of us were thinking already.

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

      Anti-theism is the position held that theism is dangerous and harmful. Atheist merely means not-theist. Not all Atheists are anti-theists, but I do fall into both camps.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • CaneMan

      Mickey...so in your brilliance, believing there is/are no God(s), and showing hatred toward those who believe there is/are... that is the same thing?

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

      No Mickey, they're not the same. Atheist don't believe in religion but they also don't disrespect and attack religious people which anti-theists do. It's a dangerous envelope to push... attacking religious people.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • Janet

      Atheist are lazy people who just plain refuse to do their religion homework. Plus, they are too lazy to learn from others because their ego is just too large to listen to knowledge.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      No Janet

      Not lazy at all. I was Catholic until my mid 20's. That's when the biblical doctrine stopped being sensible and I gave up trying to pound the square peg of Christianity into the round hole of reality.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:26 am |
    • tallulah13

      Funny you should mention ego, Janet. After all, you're the one who thinks that the most powerful being in the universe is obsessed with listening to your every thought, and will let you live forever in a special place he made just for you, if only you tell him you like him best.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:33 am |
    • John

      I respect everyone's right to worship (or not) as they wish as long as it doesn't harm someone....and as such, I don't think the religion of atheism is a problem but rather the self-righteous, hypocrites that it seem to produce. They seem to sit in judgment on everyone else as if they have some special insight into the universe....it's just difficult to find understanding and patience with that kind of egotism and hate.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:34 am |
  16. Keksi

    It just proves Christmas is not Christian holiday.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  17. Somoblues

    Why does Bill Maheron feel the need to bad mouth anyone or anything? When I was young and uninformed I bought into his garbage, but once you grow up and live in the real world you realize he is doing nothing more than spouting what will fill his pockets.

    He would change his opinion and sell his soul for a buck, not that his soul would be worth much more than a buck.

    Using the downfall of society as a profit center just isn't an admirable profession!

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

      Money... period. I am sure he will take it with him when he dies... having up-lifted so many... generated such a positive difference...

      December 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • Somo's Mom

      No, Somo. Maher would not accept JC for a million dollars, as anyone who has common sense would not. Of course, we would accept the myth-man for that million then quickly start laughing and say, sucker! Religion is so 18th century.

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

      "Why does Bill Maheron (as in "moron"?) feel the need to bad mouth anyone or anything?"

      Pot calling the kettle black.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      Bill Maher is just expressing how MANY people feel about Tebow the spectacle. All Tebow needs to do now is set up a little altar on the sideline complete with incense, candles and a couple of altar boys. Gawd help us all.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • mickey1313

      after 2000 years of christians torturing and murdering anyone who spoke out against them, I believe it is time they get what is comeing to them. And bozo, if you knew anything about bill mahar, you would know he has been militantly athiestic for ever. And as far as the whole buying into it thing, it is christianity that people buy into, because they are afraid of death. It is ignorance and cowardice that spawns thiesm

      December 30, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  18. Tebow

    Tebow is Gay!

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

      And you say he is Gay why? Please don't say things that you do not know are facts.

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

      Because Jesus is gay, and Tebow wants to live like him. Oh, except for the money part.

      December 29, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  19. Billy Bob

    Bill Maher is a jerk! The thing about it that annoys me is that he makes a very good living by being a jerk!

    December 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • James PDX

      Of course he does. People like you and me make sure of that.

      December 30, 2011 at 12:00 am |
  20. Jaime

    Hey Eric, on Christmas Eve the Denver Broncos were getting destroyed by the Buffalo Bills, not the Detroit Lions.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:48 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.