On CNN a few weeks ago I was asked whether I agree with the sentiment that Tim Tebow’s religious displays in football games are overdone and out-of-place. “Oh yes,” I replied, “it certainly is. Faith should have no place in sport. Indeed, I believe that the only thing that should be allowed at football games are truly dignified displays like women jumping up and down in lycra with pompoms and cleavage, and bare-chested, pot-bellied men with their teams written across their stomachs, and people wearing cheese hats on their heads. But faith? G-d forbid.”
Yes, I’m a Tim Tebow fan. And not only because he’s the underdog who pulls off miraculous victories, the scrappy boyish quarterback who always snatches victory from the jaws of defeat. Nor because he is openly religious and celebrates the fact that amid his love for football there are things in life infinitely more important than sport. No, I’m a Tim Tebow fan because frankly my dear, he just doesn’t give a damn. Here is a guy who has decided who he is, what his convictions and principles are, and will stick with it whatever the criticism, whatever the price. And in age where people have such wobbly identities, that kind of enthusiasm for one’s core beliefs is positively infectious.
The attacks on Tebow are bizarre, the hatred shown to him by critics strange. People seem to loathe his missionary work more than Ben Roethlisberger’s treatment of women (Ben’s repented, so let’s move on). They seem more offended by his morality than by Kobe Bryant’s infidelity. Tebow is touching some real nerve.
I believe it is this. America is a religious country, and sincerely so. Ninety-two percent of the population believes in G-d, who is even on our money. It is a Church-going, Synagogue-supporting nation. But it loves compartmentalizing religion. Keep it in the Church, but not in the schools. Put G-d in Presidential campaigns, but never in the popular culture. Aside from those who pay for their air time, like Joel Osteen, notice that you never see religion on TV. There are a thousand different reality TV shows on the cable networks about everything under the sun. That is, except faith.
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