Consider this, America. Before you label me as everything from a bigot to a hater to a lowlife for denouncing Tim Tebow, just ask yourself a few simple questions: If Tebow were Jewish or Muslim, would the “religion on my sleeve” routine still be so compelling?
Since Jews, Muslims, and less-vocal Christians aren’t as public about their faith, would you even respect a non Bible-beater for doing the right thing and allowing his actions to speak for themselves?
Jewish icon Sandy Koufax was not deeply religious. He never openly discussed his faith or utilized his status as a minority role model to build his personal brand. But in 1965, Koufax sat out of game one of the World Series because it was played on Yom Kippur, the most holy Jewish holiday.
For that reason alone, Koufax became a historical role model for all Jewish kids to look up to and follow. He didn’t have to flaunt his persona by clipping a yarmulke on his ball cap or painting a Star of David in his eye black. Heck, he didn’t even have to thank Abraham after every dominant start.
All Koufax had to do was show us his devotion by example. While Jewish fans lauded Koufax for respecting his heritage, non-Jewish fans berated him for allowing a moral obligation to outweigh his responsibility as the Dodgers ace.
This is the true moral failure of “Tebowmania.” We are heaping praise on an athlete who’s the anti-Koufax, an athlete who preaches what he practices harder than he actually practices it.
There’s nothing wrong with Tebow’s love for and devotion to God and Jesus. Lead your post-game prayer circles. Point to the heavens after you score a touchdown. Turn the “thinker” pose into your personal copyright.
As long as Tebow practices what he preaches, his persona is authentic and no one can question his motives.
Don’t get me wrong. To a point, Tebow does practice what he preaches. He builds schools in the Philippines. He feeds starving Third World children. He even treats his elders and superiors with divine respect. But do we have to hear about all this every time he steps off a football field and in front of a camera?
If your faith is that deep, you should understand that God probably has better things to worry about than your record as a starter.
Tebow isn’t a zealot. He doesn’t, at least consciously, try to convert people to Christianity. But as a Jewish sports fan, I find it downright offensive when an athlete damns me to an “eternity in Hell” for not sharing his faith in Jesus, or living the same religious life he leads.
By constantly referring to his faith and looking down on his detractors from a proverbial high horse, Tebow draws an unnecessary line in the sand between the faith-driven Christian majority he represents, and the minorities who are sick of what has become an Evangelical circus.
The sad part is, those same minorities simply want to appreciate Tebow as a good, clean role model in a cesspool of greedy thugs and sex abusers.
But he constantly feels a need to remind us how deep his abstract faith actually runs. This makes it impossible for us in the minority to appreciate any concrete contributions he’s making to society.
According to a recent USA Today article about Tebow’s public displays of faith, 88 percent of Americans identify themselves with some form of Christianity. A significantly fair share of that percentage also supports the separation of church and state that Tebow fails to acknowledge.
"When he accepts the fact that we know he loves Jesus Christ, then I think I’ll like him a little bit better. Bringing it up after a football game trivializes the importance of a spiritual relationship of that sort," said former Broncos starting quarterback Jake Plummer in a late November interview with Denver’s 102.3 FM The Ticket.
Tebow’s arrogant response to Plummer echoed his continued ignorance toward both the less vocal Christians and the other 12 percent.
"If you're married, and you have a wife, and you really love your wife, is it good enough to only say to your wife 'I love her' the day you get married? Or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and every opportunity? That's how I feel about my relationship with Jesus Christ," Tebow told ESPN’s First Take.
The issue with Tebow’s mindset is that he’s making a judgmental indictment on people who do prioritize real relationships, like a marital one, over their day-to-day practice of religion. Isn’t that the purpose of believing in God in the first place?
God put us all in the position, as a human beings, to build lasting and meaningful relationships with other people. Sure, faith is valuable because it inspires belief in this essential purpose. But does religion really matter when the object of your faith is faith itself?
Whether he intends to or not, Tebow is sending the message that everyone should be like him. For him to not be cognizant of that fact is downright ignorant. I'm not against Tebow because he’s a devout Christian. I'm not even against his public displays of faith. If that were the case, Sandy Koufax would be just as much at fault.
No, what bothers me about Tebow is he turns religion into the basis for every little thing that happens in his life. When someone criticizes his antics, they’re a tortured soul because they haven’t embraced Jesus to the same extent. When someone criticizes his throwing motion, they’re a hater because they allow his strong-willed personality to cloud their judgment.
As a society, we overlook this ignorance because it’s deeply rooted in the morally righteous connotations that define religion and faith.
Let’s flip the script for a second.
Ryan Braun just won the 2011 National League MVP. Braun is also openly Jewish. Now how would the general public react if he opened his MVP press conference by thanking Moses for parting the Red Sea? Everyone would laugh in his face and denounce him as a crackpot.
In 1967, everyone did denounce Muhammed Ali as a crackpot after he refused to honor his mandatory entry into the US Army because it was against the teachings of the Holy Qur’an.
Muslims, Jews, and less vocal Christians aren’t entitled to the same controversial displays of faith because they don’t bleed, sweat, and cry religion like Tebow and his fellow Bible-beaters. Instead, they let the practice do the preaching.
For some reason, our backward society has a problem with that.
Follow me on twitter @JarradSaff
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