Susan Brown's column is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at email@example.com.
Despite the fact that in America, 60 to 70 percent of people identify themselves as "Christian" to one degree or another, Christian-bashing seems to be just about as popular a pastime as watching football these days.
And when a national football player commits the unpardonable sins of being both pro-life and vociferously, pro-Jesus, you end up with Monday morning pundits who cast ridiculous judgments from on top of their lofty thrones, much like the old Muppet Show characters, Statler and Waldorf.
The persecution of Christians has been going on since the days of the Roman Empire; it continues today in many third world countries, brutally, and here in America, more subtly. Tolerant of most other religions, pre-fall Rome viewed Christianity as a fanatical Jewish sect which was so easy to hate they made a sport out of it.
Sure, it's a stretch to make an absolute correlation between 21st Century America and first Century Rome. Nonetheless, replace sticks with diatribes and stones with denigrations for similar results. One kills the body; the other slays the spirit.
Enter Denver Broncos' quarterback Tim Tebow.
Tebow is the first college-level sophomore to receive the Heisman trophy and carried more awards into his professional career than most college players could dream of. His leadership and running game converted the Broncos' losing streak into a winning one, effectively moving them into a first-place tie for the AFC West position.
Tebow has a better first-eight starting record than John Elway. An ESPN commentator recently wrote that Tebow is not only winning, but also accomplishing "historic quarterback feats" like having the most rushing attempts by a quarterback in any game since 1970, and owning the "longest game-winning touchdown run by a quarterback in the final minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history." Dare I mention he's a virgin?
Under normal circumstances, Tebow would be praised for his accomplishments, talent and leadership from around the Monday morning water cooler, but in these days of pseudo political correctness (PC), the words "normal" and "Christian" cannot run together in the same sentence.
Those who praise their maker for their talent are not considered talented; they are just creepy.
You'd think with all the PC legalese injected into our lives at every turn, there would be a bit more tolerance. Think again.
Consider these choice samplings from the peanut gallery: "Maybe he can cure leprosy." "He'd be a better passer if he'd give in and sleep around town." "Where's your Messiah?" "I don't want to hear about his faith every other sentence." "Okay, here we go, the Jesus Gates are open now." "His deeds should speak for him, not his praising Jesus after every snap of the ball." "Even Jesus is telling Tim he has had enough." "God wants you to be a back-up."
According to NFL Crime Watch, the National Football League employs quite a share of malcontents. Americans loudly worship these tights-adorned gods despite their delinquencies including: drunken driving, torturing and killing animals, drug possession, DUI, manslaughter, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, battery on a person 65 years and older, domestic violence, and cocaine possession to name a few.
With that kind of lineup, you'd think this son of missionaries and walking miracle would be welcomed into the fold in hopes that some of this saint's goodness would rub off on the sinners.
For the unaware, Tebow is a "walking miracle" because his mother refused her doctors' life-saving advice to abort her presumed-to-be stillborn son while still in her womb. They both lived. And Tebow's been beating the odds and his critics ever since.
What is it about Tebow that brings out such nastiness in so many of us? Why does the Jesus in Tebow bring out the Devil in us? Why is Tebow a lightning rod to those who haven't seen the same light? Might it be that we can't sit back to enjoy the game and appreciate Tebow's talent because Tebow's goodness makes us uncomfortable with our own not-so-goodness?
If that's the case, Heaven help us.
Susan Brown's weekly column is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. E-mail Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.