Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid
December 23, 2011
A friend of mine asked me recently when I was going to chime in on the whole Tim Tebow thing. At the time, I said I had no plans to, but evidently I lied because I’m about to throw my two cents out there. I’ll admit, however, that this column will probably have little to do with Tebow himself and more to do with people’s reactions to him.
On a strictly football level, I’ve found Tebow’s success this season to be more amusing than inspiring. In my view of things, the Broncos’ victories are clearly the result of poor opponents, a good defense and a great kicker. Seriously, if anyone in a Denver uniform is a miracle worker, it’s Matt Prater rather than Tebow, but I’ll give the quarterback a little credit. He seems to do just enough when he has to after sucking for 55 minutes each game.
Obviously, though, the Tebow story goes much deeper than what has been happening on the gridiron. Tebow has become a hugely polarizing figure in American society not for his lack of passing ability but for his outspoken Christian beliefs. (This is where things get a little sticky and I put on my kiddie gloves in an attempt not to tick off too many people.)
Faith and belief, to me, are – or at least should be – private matters. Everyone should believe what they take to be the truth, and everyone should allow everyone else the opportunity to believe what they wish without hassling them about it. I would consider that to be at the very heart of the American way of life. In short, if putting your faith in Jesus works for you, that’s great, but don’t assume everyone wants to hear about it or be told it’s what they need to do, too.
The issue with Tebow is that he has chosen to make his faith a very public matter by essentially proselytizing whenever he gets the chance. As someone who doesn’t share Tebow’s beliefs, I find this a little obnoxious, but as an American, I wholeheartedly stand behind his right to do it. Tebow has to understand, though, that if he’s so vocal about his Christianity, he’s going to open himself up to ridicule.
Such was the case recently when “Saturday Night Live” did a skit where Tebow and the Broncos were visited in the locker room by Jesus after their Dec. 11 overtime win versus the Bears. The skit, which I saw, was lighthearted and moderately funny, but it wasn’t the sort of thing that most people would think too much about after having seen it. It wasn’t really that good, basically.
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However, since Tebow was portrayed as a fawning sycophant hanging on Jesus’ every word (let’s face it: If he met Jesus that’s exactly how he would act), Christian leaders were outraged over the audacity of the skit. Well-known evangelist Pat Robertson was among the most vocal, calling the bit “disgusting” and opining that if this had happened in a Muslim country there would have been “bodies in the street.”
A couple of weeks prior to that, Fox News ran a column by a woman named Jen Engel that featured the headline “What if Tim Tebow were a Muslim?” The gist of the column was that if Tebow were a Muslim and were being ridiculed, all hell would break loose. Engel, who I’m guessing considers herself a Christian, thought people were wrong to mock a “man who chooses to honor God.”
Engel and Robertson, in case you haven’t guessed by now, are just about the biggest hypocrites on the face of the Earth.
Do you know what would happen if Tebow were, indeed, a Muslim and praised Allah and bowed to Mecca after touchdowns? Robertson and Engel would be among the loudest voices calling his actions reprehensible and asking the NFL to step in and do something to stop him.
And what if all this were happening in a Muslim country, as Robertson wondered? Well, I’ll tell you. First of all, Tebow would be playing soccer because Muslim nations don’t have football, and old Reverend Pat would probably have been executed as a heretic years ago.
Fortunately, none of this is happening in a Muslim country. It’s happening in America, where Tebow is free to express his beliefs and others are free to express their feelings about Tebow. That’s what makes this country great. If Robertson and Engel have a problem with that, maybe they should try living in Iran for a while.