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Why do we mock Tim Tebow for being religious?

Written:
Monday January 12, 2009

A comment about Tebow left on my facebook wall recently, by a person who shall remain nameless, got me a thinking. The comment in question was essentially mocking Tebow’s Christian faith and his religiousness. This person wasn’t the first to make this sort of remark, I’ve heard it all season long from people who don’t like Tebow or people who just knew that I was a Gator fan and wanted to bring my spirits down. Something about what this particular person wrote on my wall, though, got me thinking about the subject.

I understand that when a guy becomes a media darling because of his athletic prowess it’s natural for us, as inferior athletes – and let’s face facts, we are all inferior athletes to Tim Tebow, I don’t care what you think of him – to mock and scorn them. It’s human nature, it’s what we do. It happened with JJ Reddick, it’s happening with Tyler Hansburough, it happens across the board when there’s a person given the amount of national adoration that a guy like Tim Tebow is getting. That I understand. But what really has me perplexed and maybe even a bit concerned is why people have chosen to mock Tebow for being religious.

I mean, certainly we’ve got to find something to pick at because of our glaring insecurity as mortal beings, but when did being religious become a bad thing or something to be ridiculed for? When did we, as a generation, make the switch from “Maybe organized religion, or the Christian faith in particular, isn’t for me” to “Being a Christian is something stupid, to be mocked and looked down upon”?

I think most of us would say the United States is a Christian nation, and one in which the majority of the people believe in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Bible, so when did it become so unthinkable for someone to be so forthright about their faith? Tebow hasn’t been trying to force religion on anyone or even bad-mouthing other religions, which I think are two of the things that most turn people off to Christianity these days. He’s not being ostentatious about his faith or even acting as if he’s somehow better than anyone because he believes. Tebow has simply been thanking Jesus Christ and extolling the virtues of Christianity when given the opportunity. When did that become a bad thing?

I think the fight of many Atheists in schools has been made because they feel that religion is being forced upon them and their children and they don’t believe that such a thing should happen in a country that is supposed to be founded on the principle of religious freedom, and that makes a lot of sense. I, personally, believe that the fight against mandated organized religion in schools and in the general public sphere has been one of the things that has made this country the great nation that it is today. But when did that sentiment of fighting for your right not to be a part of the mainstream religion turn into persecuting those who do believe? Wasn’t the entire idea of choosing not to be religious supposed to be about freely accepting everyone’s choice and making the point that “to each his own”? Wasn’t that whole thing supposed to be about acceptance?

When did thanking Jesus Christ become something to be maligned for? Have we really come to that point?

I will admit that in our generation, religion seems to be a lost concept and that many of us were even raised in households that did not include religion at all. I truly believe that there may be more of us without religion than with it, and that perhaps the majority mentality has gone to our heads a little bit.

I completely understand Tebow maybe being ostracized from much of our generation a bit and perhaps his zeal for Christianity and the Bible being outré or unusual for people. But what I can’t understand is why anyone would flat-out ridicule him for it. I’ve always believed that choosing religion or choosing not to have a religion was one of the greatest choices that we had as Americans, and now it seems as if – in my generation, at least – choosing the former comes with much more negative social implications than the latter.

But even if religion isn’t what today’s kids are crazy for, why do we view it as such a negative thing? What is it about Tim Tebow writing Bible verses on his eyeblack that appalls or amuses us so? Why are we, the minority, who were once vilified for not being what we were supposed to be by so many dutiful insiders, now turning on those who make the conscious – and now unpopular – choice to believe in a God and a religion? I mean, didn’t having religion use to be a good thing? Wasn’t piety something that was once revered in our peers? Especially in today’s world where so many athletes, professional and amateur alike, are being arrested and kicked out of school and off their teams (Robert Marve, Marcus Thomas, Pacman Jones, Matt Jones, Half of the Florida State and Miami football teams, et al.) for behaving like criminals, why isn’t it refreshing and exciting to hear about a player who’s religious beliefs have shaped him into a positive young man who only wants to enrich the lives of others?

I can understand how in today’s world we can be less than thrilled about a person being a Christian, because we ourselves may not be believers and find it uncomfortable, but why does their belief make them fair game to be lampooned? Sure, we don’t all believe anymore, but has it really become absurd or even comical to do so? Have we really come that far as a generation? And if so, is that really a good thing?

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