The Scripps Howard News Service didn’t mince words. “Should Tim Tebow be so flamboyant about his faith?” read Sunday’s headline.
Columnist Joel Mathis spoke on behalf of the Almighty and declared that Jesus wants the Denver Broncos quarterback to take it down a notch.
“But most of us have learned to live with boundaries – to avoid thrusting our religion into arenas where it is unexpected or unwelcome,” Mathis wrote. “If you make a big sale at work, for example, you’re unlikely to bend on knee in front of co-workers and customers to start giving thanks to God.”
That column is the most recent example that Tebow’s success on the gridiron has done little to silence his critics who believe that his faith in Jesus Christ has no business on the football field. It doesn’t matter how many touchdown passes he throws or how many games he wins because Tebow will always be a lightning rod for anti-Christian bigots.
It’s become something of a sport to attack Christians in this nation. In recent days a cross was removed from a Christian chapel on an Army base because it violated regulations. Symbols of the Christmas season have been removed from public squares and public schools because they might offend non-Christians. And in Washington, D.C., Christian teenagers were forced to pray in a gutter after police told them it was illegal to pray on a sidewalk outside the Supreme Court.
Hollywood spews out reprehensible anti-Christian propaganda wrapped in the guise of family-friendly entertainment – indoctrinating children to various and sundry lifestyles and beliefs. The music industry relishes artists who denigrate faith and traditional families. Our taxpayer-funded museums host religious exhibits smeared in elephant dung.
And that brings us to the National Football League and the attacks on Tebow.
There aren’t many superstars for evangelical kids to admire – but Tebow is one of those guys. He’s an athlete who “walks the walk.” He’s passionate about his relationship with Jesus Christ. He prays. He studies his Bible. And he also wins football games.
And for that – he’s been subjected to ridicule.
Stephen Tullock, a linebacker for the Detroit Lions, personified the anti-Christian attacks when he mocked Tebow after sacking the quarterback. As Tebow picked himself up off the gridiron, Tullock started “Tebowing” – a mocking prayer on bended knee.
“I told a friend of mine that I might have a couple sacks this game and if I get him, I going to Tebow it,” Tulloch told the Denver Post.
There was no outrage – no editorials of condemnation. There were no calls for religious tolerance – nothing but silence from the chattering class.
Imagine for just a moment if Tebow had been a Muslim. Imagine Tullock sacking the quarterback and then pulling out a prayer rug and offering a mocking prayer toward Mecca. Imagine that.
But the attacks on Tebow started long before he started playing professional football. NBC Sports reported on an incident that occurred at a Scouting Combine. Tebow suggested the group pray. Another player told him to “shut the f*** up.”
Former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer told the Daily Mail, “I wish he’d just shut up after a game and go hug his teammates.”
A particular disappointment has been the criticism levied against Tebow by his fellow Christians.
“It seems Tebow might help himself and the kingdom by getting off his knees, taking the verses off of his face, and being faithful to Christ without the public acts like all the other Christians in the NFL have done for decades,” wrote Anthony Bradley, an associate professor of theology and ethics at The Kings College in New York City, in World Magazine.
Perhaps the good professor would suggest Christians enter restaurants through the back door and use separate drinking fountains?
“Put down the boldness in regards to the words and keep living the way you’re living,” opined Kurt Warner in a Washington Post story.
So Warner wants Tebow to water down his boldness. Exactly, how does one do that, Mr. Warner?
Perhaps the sad part of this episode is that Tebow is an anomaly in a professional sports industry searching for a moral compass.
They take great pride in putting bad boys on superstar pedestals.
At the end of the day, though, which NFL star would you want your little boy idolizing? A dog killer? A guy who beats up his girlfriend? Someone who is communicable? Or a man who loves Jesus, helps orphans and builds hospitals for the needy?
I’ll take Tim Tebow in my huddle any day.
Todd Starnes is the host of FOX News & Commentary, heard daily on radio stations. His website is www.toddstarnes.com.