TIM WILDMON: Unjustifiable criticism hounds Tebow’s public piety

By Tim Wildmon

“If (Tim) Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants. While America has become more inclusive since Jerry Falwell’s first political forays, a Tebow triumph could set those efforts back considerably.”
– Rabbi Joshua Hammerman from “The Jewish Week” website

The above was a real quote from a real rabbi in a real column on a real, legitimate website. It was not satire.
Tim Tebow is a professional football player for the Denver Broncos. He has been the talk of the sports world the last month or so and that talk has spilled over into the mainstream news in large part because Tebow’s public expressions of his Christian faith. A lot of people don’t like it. Some have referred to Tebow as a “polarizing” figure.
The two things that bother some people is Tebow often begins interviews by saying: “First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” The second thing he does is that he occasionally kneels and says a short prayer. That is it. He doesn’t recite the Apostle’s Creed, he doesn’t try and baptize members of the press, and he doesn’t sing “Just As I Am” during an altar call at halftime.
But why the particular disdain for Tebow? My goodness, this kind of thing has been going on for years in sports. Players, coaches and managers express themselves all the time about all manner of ideas, philosophies, religion, etc. Watch Albert Pujols after any double or home run and you will see him take both hands, look upwards, and point towards the sky. Pujols is also a devout, and public, Christian.
Tony LuRussa often takes the opportunity to talk about his Animal Rescue Foundation when doing interviews. Although that topic is not germane to baseball, I’m not bothered by hearing LaRussa talk about something he cares passionately about outside of baseball. I can take it or leave it. And I do think that is the way most Americans, Christian or not, react to Tebow. But there are people out there (enough of them to make it a story), including some in the big media, who just can’t stand Tim Tebow for doing this.
Tebow has been a below average NFL quarterback in the first three quarters of the games he has started. That will have to change if he is to keep his starting job into next season. But the fourth quarter is a different story. The Tebow lead fourth quarter comebacks this season have been, well, almost divine. Like Tebow, I don’t think God cares who wins football games. But even the most hardened atheist would have a hard time explaining the way the Broncos won in overtime against the Chicago Bears after trailing by 10 with under three minutes to go in the game. Some very unusual things happened. I’m just saying …
Tebow came into the season third on the depth chart. But the other two guys ahead of him were not getting it done so with the Broncos record at 1-4, the coaches decided to give him a shot. They have gone 7-1 since and have good chance to win their division and make the playoffs. Which, according to Rabbi Hannerman, would then put Tebow a couple of wins away from making the Super Bowl and thus causing all hell to break lose across America.
Really?
With all the thugs and drugs in professional sports today, somehow I’m just not seeing Tim Tebow’s acknowledgement of God as a big problem Americans should be worried about.
Community columnist Tim Wildmon is a Lee County resident. He is president of the American Family Association, but the column represents his personal opinion unless otherwise noted. Contact him at twildmon@afa.net.