America’s Next Bill Clinton!

Tim Tebow, attacks on Christianity and respect in America

I apologize for the lack of posting. Busy, plus the Internet is pedestrian at best and takes forever to load this site. But I felt I needed to write this morning.

Although I never gave the Broncos a shot at defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Wildcard Playoffs game, that Tim Tebow led his team to a victory over the Steelers wasn’t the biggest surprise for me Monday morning. What surprised me most – although it should have been expected given past conversations – was the reaction to Tebow’s performance. “An illegitimate quarterback,” one friend describes him, only to go on to, rather than focusing on his play, attack his faith. “Let’s see if God likes him more than Brady,” another friend takes a shot. “I am going to throw up,” another friend writes, and then, like the rest, goes on to criticize Tebow for his faith.

I am surprised at all of this not because it is unheard of to bash public figures and athletes, especially those seen as prima donnas, for their behaviors. Rather, I am surprised because I don’t understand the hatred for Tebow – the majority of which comes from the left, and I cannot help – even as an atheist and anti-Broncos fan, but think that the hatred for Tebow is a collective hatred for his faith, and an overall attack on Christianity. I am beginning to understand when Christians say that even in America – whether one believes America is a Christian nation is immaterial (and I don’t believe it is) – that Christians often feel attacked and mocked for their faith.

There are a lot worse athletes NFL fans and America’s left can hone their attacks on. At least Tim Tebow isn’t the one to seek the spotlight each time the camera rolls, as a certain now-retired (then again, maybe not) quarterback did for nearly 20 years; at least he was never accused of sexually assaulting a woman in the bathroom while his bodyguard stood at the doorway; at least he was never involved in murder investigations as a certain Baltimore Ravens linebacker was; at least, unlike Sam Hurd of the Chicago Bears, he was never accused of an elaborate scheme to distribute drugs to Chicago’s most impoverished neighborhoods, making money from it as a result.

It would be clichéd to say Tebow has done nothing but win – and, in fact, it’s not true. Once the NFL figures out his style and limited body-of-work, Tebow will be but another one-hit wonder. But this isn’t about Tebow’s ability. It has never been. From the very beginning, Tebow has had to defend his faith, as if somehow in an America where our freedom of religion is guaranteed, Tebow is not afforded that by virtue of simply being Christian. When he aired the pro-life commercial during the Super Bowl two years ago, the left was up in arms, as if he were somehow directly connected to Scott Roeder and the murder of Dr. George Tiller. In an America where freedom of speech his guaranteed, Tebow would have been muzzled for his pro-life stance. In an America that so bravely (and rightfully so) fought against the hatred directed toward Muslims after the Sept. 11 attacks and during Park 51 controversy two summers ago, people turn a blind eye toward the attacks against the faiths of Christians like Tebow, using cowardly excuses like, “well, you can’t be attacked if you’re the predominate group.” In an America that is so concerned with the bullying of school children based on their sexuality or because they look different, we continue to see the bullying of Christians each day. They’re made fun of for not being smart enough, for believing in silly things, and for being uneducated. It’s no wonder right-of-center politicians have been so successful at exploiting that hatred by promising to stop the attacks on faith as Rick Perry famously did in a political commercial a few weeks ago.

This goes beyond Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. After all, Tebow and the Broncos, and whether Denver can each replace Elway with Tebow’s gimmicks at quarterback, are immaterial to America. What does matter to America is how its people treat one another based on faith. When atheists prevent Christians from displaying the Nativity Scenes during Christmas, it is an attack on their faith. Instead of actually listening to one another and work out our disagreements, we attack one another, citing separation of church and state, when in fact the real reason is that we have no respect for one another. When pro-lifers are silenced or attacked for their views, our nation is no longer the America our founding fathers intended for it to be, because people of faith and those who are pro-life will always exist, and this is their America, too. And, when we judge each other based on the caricatures we’ve painted of one another, we’re no longer in living up to the ideals of the America our founding fathers had envisioned; we’re no longer the melting pot of various faiths and beliefs, colors and sexualities, national origins and the myriad of other characteristics that so many activists have marched for our nation to be. In fact, when we let what’s different between us decide the course of our conversations, rather than finding meaningful dialogue based on mutual respect, we are letting down each of the previous generations that have fought to bring America to where it is.

This is a pro-choice America and it’s a pro-life America. It’s a Christian and Muslim and atheist and Jewish and Hindu America. It’s a Black America and white America and Asian America and Mexican America. It’s an America for immigrants and those whose ancestors trace back to the Mayflower. It’s an America for gays and straights and those who are in between. It is for all of us – even those pesky Broncos fans, and until we actually stop the attacks of one another, and in this case, of the not-so-faithful against those of faith, we are moving farther away from the being the City Upon a Hill and, instead, make ourselves into a warring village. America cannot afford that. Our future must not be like that because we each grew up in the America we actually believed in – and it’s an America that I want my future children to also believe in, not just on the playground and in school, but as they grow up and engage the world.

Those who disagree with us aren’t evil; they aren’t stupid (unless they’re just stupid regardless of whether they agree with us) and they most certain aren’t against us. In fact, they care about America just very deeply as we do. It’s time for us to stop the attacks. Today, listen to someone who’s different than you are; have coffee with someone of a different faith; reach out to a Republican – or a Democrat or someone who doesn’t share the same sexuality as you are. You might just learn something new, and in fact, you might be able to see in them the same humanity you see in yourselves and those who agree with you.

And, for the record: Patriots 38 Broncos 23.