Discussion: When Faith Becomes a Punchline


I’m not a huge football fan. The only time you see me watching it is during the Super Bowl, and even then it’s only to catch a glimpse at the commercials. But I’ve come to know the name ‘Tebow’ in the last few months better than I do the game, and what I’ve discovered has disheartened me more than a little.

It seems everywhere I turn someone is ridiculing Tebow, and not just for a bad game. In fact, their venomous jests and retorts seem aimed most of all toward his faith.

From what I can gather, Tebow is not a boastful, prideful man. He doesn’t march with a sign of damnation on street corners, hollering out accusations. In fact, he seems quite the opposite. His faith appears to be a refreshing glimpse of what people who call themselves Christians should be like: humble, courteous, friendly, encouraging, compassionate and giving.

And so I sit here and wonder… what did Tim Tebow do wrong?

Why is he the punchline?

Have we, as people, in our zeal in expanding “tolerance” found ourselves doing the very opposite? Because bullying and persecuting people for their faith, whatever it may be, strikes me as backward.

When we see someone who strives to be a positive influence on others through their service and disposition, is it just to strike them down simply because they attribute their goodliness to a deity?

Already China has dubbed the Dalai Lama as a “terrorist” for his non-violent philosophies and efforts to spread compassion, peace and unity.

Have we, in today’s world, placed ourselves above the likes of religions, spirituality and faith?

This isn’t a soap box proclamation, but the start of a conversation. What are your thoughts?

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9 thoughts on “Discussion: When Faith Becomes a Punchline

  1. I can think of two other men of faith who led their teams to huge victories:

    One was Orel Hershiser, a major league baseball pitcher who led the Dodgers to their 1988 World Series victory and was named Most Valuable Player of that Series.

    The other was Kurt Warner, quarterback of the St. Louis Cardinals, who did bible study with some of his teammates and was the hero of the 2000 SuperBowl. In a Dec. 1, 2011 interview published in the Arizona Republic, Warner said he thought Tebow should tone it down, “and let his actions speak louder than his words.” I agree.

    I find that kind of “in your face piety off-putting, for all kinds of reasons, chief among them, that it seems to verge in the direction of the kind of fundamentalist faith that is the opposite of tolerance.

    • That sounds fair, and I agree that actions should speak louder than words. It’s a very good point.

      I think what struck me the hardest was the vehemence behind people’s reactions toward him. His display has caused a very loud and aggressive backlash to the point where people are just being downright cruel, which seemed very over the top to me.

  2. I totally agree with you….I don’t know much about him but I see all kinds of posts about how God must be on his side, like makin’ fun of him….it’s childish….people should just leave him alone….

  3. I, for one, love the Dalai Lama. He is my personal hero. And sadly enough, he has been exiled from his country for many years now. We can get into the politics, or you can watch a great movie called Kundun 🙂

    But, I really do believe that if Tebow had been Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim or Taoist, he would still be criticized. And it’s wrong, not matter what.

    • Me too! I think he’s a brilliant, humble and honorable man, and the politics behind his exile is a pretty corrupt and disheartening thing indeed. I’ll definitely have to look for that movie, too. 🙂

      As for the criticism, I can see it going both ways, and I say that only because in the past I’ve witnessed many people treat more foreign philosophies and religions with more respect than the ones they grew up around. It typically stems from people around our age, and it makes me shake my head every time I hear them criticize one religion only to scold someone else for expressing they same sort of feelings toward a more foreign rooted faith. I’ve witnessed it on both on college campuses and within the workplace, and it’s always left me confused as to why people feel justified in treating the subjects any differently. When I raised the question of why, I was told it was due to ‘tolerance’.

      But that sort of reasoning doesn’t make sense to me.

      • It doesn’t make sense to me, either. Tolerance means that you “put up” with something, I think. To me, tolerance isn’t a very kind word. Even so, I would imagine that if you understand that everyone has their own views, and are okay with it, you wouldn’t feel the need to tease them about it. And if you tolerate it, you don’t necessarily like it, but you still don’t tease people about it.

  4. my response is going to be a little harsh. not towards you or anyone in particular but i apologize in advance.

    first, i think people criticizing him for his faith and his appreciation to his creator in public is beyond ridiculous and immature. its showing their complete lack of respect for their fellow human beings and really for themselves. if its meant as a joke, however cynical, that is at least understandable. i would maybe make a joke like that towards someone who was outright hypocritical and deserved something like that. from what i see. tebow does not deserve that

    second, most of the people who make these kind of comments are not joking. they genuinely care so much about a game that it consumes their life enough to criticize someone doing well because his faith and ability combined threaten them because they are insecure. if they were not, they would not waste their life away obsessing over something that should be a GAME for ENTERTAINMENT.

    third, i DO have some problems with people who are faithful in public. namely politicians and many “leaders”. My problem is there are a lot of contradictions between a “faith” and what those actual beliefs entail (if taken as orthodox would entail such as christians damning certain people then claiming they dont like that part but chose other and on and on and on, ask if you want tme to detail this). The reason i have a problem with those type of people (including the dalai lama for some of his policies and tactics he endorses see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14th_Dalai_Lama#Controversies, especially endorsing climate change because im not sure he understands the negatives of those policies and the errors in the logic) is because their supposed moral high ground usually translates into moral hypocrisy, which is part of why (in my opinion) people like the tebow critics thinks its actually valid to criticize a football player because of his beliefs and the fact he is unashamed to practice his faith in front of people. I personally wish more people would do this because it would mean people are at least being honest with themselves.

    Tebow is not a leader of people. he seems like a genuinely good role model and nice guy who happens to play a game for entertainment. so to criticize him for that is, again, to me, completely a self indictment of pettiness.

  5. Very well said, Elli. Sadly, faith is the anomaly in today’s culture. It saddens me to think that we live in a world where almost every type of behavior is acceptable, and any belief is tolerated, except for Christianity. We need more people like Tebow, who are willing to stand for their faith in the midst of the criticism.

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