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The Tim Tebow Thing

Don't know much about football.

I do know a little about religion in America, and these days a young man named Tim Tebow is center stage.  For those of you not in the U.S. or who have "irritation induced amnesia" from 2006, Tim Tebow is a quarterback who plays (American) football for the Denver Broncos.

He's very good. And he prays. Like, all the time.

They call it "the Tebow."  Tim will silently kneel on one knee at various points in the game and pray for a favorable outcome.  He prays when he's winning as well as when things aren't going well. He talks to God a lot.  Which is, let's admit, most Americans find sort of creepy.

I'm not phased in the least by Tim Tebow's praying because Muslims pray, like, all the time.  Technically, five times a day, but way more if you count little prayers.

If I see a Muslim friend, I say, "May the Peace of God be upon you." A prayer.

Than that Muslim friend says, "May the Peace of God be upon you as well as his mercy and his blessings." Another prayer.

When I ask that friend how they're doing they reply, "All praise is due to God" and continue with their sentence.  I mean, it hasn't been two minutes and we've already prayed three times.

Oops, I sneezed, so I say "Praise God." We're up to four times.

So the person I'm talking to says, "And may his Mercy be upon you." Five.

My friend gives me a tissue and I say, "May God reward you with goodness." Six.

They tell me they just god a new job and, I say, "As God Wills." Seven gets you to heaven, baby.

And before I do most anything, get in the car, start writing something, lose my temper, start cooking, I say, "I seek refuge from Satan and his evil, and begin in the name of God."  I don't know, that happens anywhere from ten to fifteen times a day?  And I will not even begin to count how many times I ask for forgiveness.

So, I pray a lot.  Which means I don't think Tim Tebow is off putting for praying. And before you go, "Well, you're not kneeling on the floor and..."  Yes.  Yes, I am, for at least five of those thirty or more times times, I am kneeling.

You know who is off putting these days?

Bill Maher.

Many of you know, Bill Maher does not pray because he's an atheist.  WHICH IS FINE. Great.  And good for him!

That's not the annoying part.  The annoying thing is that Bill Maher thinks ridiculing Tim Tebow and other religious people is some sort of activist thing. I know he has a right to say what he likes, but I have a right to dislike him for what he says and take his methodology to task, too.

I'm not even remotely suggesting laws be passed or boycotts or anything of the like.

Bill Maher is just oblivious to the fact that he employs the same kind of "blinders on" thinking that he suggests are the source of all of our problems in the first place. News flash, Mr. Maher, you can be a fundamentalist and not believe in God. god.  Whatever. Ridiculing Tim Tebow makes him look good.  In fact, the third most googled term last week was "Tim Tebow 3:16."

Maher and other people who think this is all so very hilarious actually take the focus off of a very important fact: Tim Tebow ascribes to a paradigm that promotes the meshing of public policy and conservative Christian values that seek to limit the civil rights of American citizens to marry and women's reproductive rights. Furthermore, his popularity is either rooted in implicit support for this paradigm or is aimed at garnering support for it.

Now that would be a cause for concern for me  if I weren't so annoyed with Bill Maher making fun of the fact the the kid prays so much.

Last week on on Hey! That's My Hummus!, Mike and I discussed Tim Tebow as well as how Jamaican nationalism is affecting a recent translation of the Bible. You can download from iTunes or listen at the main site.  We're on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Reader Comments (41)

All things being equal, in my faith tradition making a big show of your faith is a way of saying :look at me" and not about honoring God or praying. Saying "God bless you" when someone sneezes or "feets don't fail me now" (oh wait, that's not a prayer... is it?) is one thing. Making a big show of one's faith is another. Ostentatious display like Tebow's is suspect, amongst Quakers. But then so is my buying football squares, which would also be frowned upon so who am I to talk? Maher, on the other hand, is a comedian. And comedians get to do stuff like that I suppose. I would have to say that Tebow's showboating his religion is worthy of a barb here and there. His affiliation with angry white evangelicals is worthy of more light, as you've suggested.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRW

The thing is, Timmy has done this all his life. He didn't "just" start Tebowing when he arrived in the NFL, he's done it since he was a child. It was how he was raised. It was how he was in college. If he had just started doing it once he got on the national stage, then I'd be more disapproving of it. Still, with all the attention he has gathered, I don't think it's really going to do anything to further the causes his religion supports. Besides, there's plenty of praying going on during football games already without Timmy's example. "Oh dear God... let my team make the spread!"

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBlondefabulous

RW has kind of summed up my feelings on the whole thing. Every time I see Tebow Tebowing, I have to question whether it is Glory be unto God or Glory be unto Tebow. Perhaps I would feel differently if I knew he Tebowed all the time... like at McDonald's when he saves his McMuffin from falling on the floor... or at the car wash when he gets a second coat of wax at no charge... or does he only do it when there's an audience? It just seems so "LOOK AT ME!"

That being said, he seems like a genuinely nice guy who happens to have deep religious convictions and wants everybody to know it. So good for him! That's what being an American is all about!

And THAT being said... can you imagine the reaction if Tebow were a Muslim and being that demonstrative of his faith? If after ever touchdown he pulled out a prayer mat and prayed toward Mecca to give his thanks? Americans would lose their minds. THIS is what bothers me about the situation more than anything else. Make a big display of being a Christian and you're a hero to be celebrated. Make a big display of being some other non-Christian religion and you're somehow attacking Christianity. The whole "Tim Tebow Thing" is just a reminder to me that it's not a level playing field when it comes to religion in this country... even one as meticulously maintained as an NFL football field.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave2

I think the part of it that makes me uncomfortable is that it is a very obvious display of his "agenda". The fact that he is praying isn't really my issue with him. Being an atheist I obviously don't pray, but there are times when I wish I could believe in a higher power and I certainly wish for certain outcomes many times a day. I also see where RW is coming from. My family's religious tradition would find issue with his making a big deal of his faith as well.
Maher is an ass, plain and simple. He's already shown he hates women and just about anyone else he can pick on. I've never seen him as funny, just "lacking" and trying to constantly make up for it.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmelia Sprout

I love Bill Maher, but I don't care for his views on religion. He makes a good point on the subject once in a while, but I think he's as stuck in his thinking about it as he assumes people of faith are.

Like you, what concerns me most is that his popularity will help further an social agenda that I cannot abide.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMegan

Bill Maher annoys me, but Tim Tebow annoys me more. Maybe they can become nemeses and fight each other to death over Reichenbach Falls.

I never pray, unless asking God to damn stupid drivers counts.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAvitable

I've always liked Bill Maher, but his views on anyone religious at all are so incredibly sanctimonious that it's off -putting altogether. I pray, all day long. I do not get on my knees to do it, but I would, if I felt like it.
As far as Tim Tebow - I just don't care. His praying has no effect on me whatsoever. It's weird that anyone thinks that a guy who prays is a target for any reason. Really? Why? Aren't there more important people doing WAY WORSE things for you to pick on?

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSybil Law

I remember the first time I went away for the weekend with a boyfriend. We had a crazy sex life and had done all kinds things with each other. When it came time to go to sleep, we suddenly realized that we both had bedtime prayers we did and we were kind of embarrassed to do them in front of each other. Wild sex, no problem. Praying on your knees? Blushing. It cracks me up to remember.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuebob

"Tim Tebow ascribes to a paradigm that promotes the meshing of public policy and conservative Christian values that seek to limit the civil rights of American citizens to marry and women’s reproductive rights."

Really? This is news to me and I'm a little concerned to see a statement like that made without a link. Maybe you assumed Tebow's specific beliefs were common knowledge, but they apparently aren't. Could you link to where he's pushing to limit civil rights and what-not?

(Without more info, the assumption could be made that you're saying the paradigm that is all for limiting civil rights is Christianity, but knowing you, I don't think that's the case.)

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt

My issue with Tebow is not that he prays, or even that he makes a big ostentatious display of praying. It's that when he's making that display, he's not praying to feed starving children or for a cure to, I don't know, Lou Gehrig's disease. He's praying for the outcome of a football game. Dude, you've got the ear of the creator of the universe and the subject you address is not getting sacked a sixth time? Selfish.

My issues with Bill Maher are legion.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterevilisgood

I'm glad you weren't dissing Tebow. I don't think Zia could take you putting down Tebow AND the Adam Sandler/Elmo video on the same day! (Although, he is also a Bill Maher fan too).

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTraci

Tim Tebow appeared in a widely publicized superbowl ad for an organization known as "Focus on the Family" that holds these principles. It was a pretty big deal and received a high volume of press. Furthermore, his refusal to participate in "It gets better" ads has also recieved notable coverage and has been linked to his lack of acceptance for "alternative lifestyles."

Also, Tebow's affiliation with evangelicals is widely known and almost always discussed in any story (religious based or otherwise) about him. The story of his mother's decision not to terminate her pregnancy despite its life threatening nature is an often cited anecdote within the pro-life camp.

I chose not to link to "Focus on the Family" as I often choose not to link to sites of that ilk, and did not link to news articles on the subject because I feel that these stories have had enough coverage to warrant an assumption that people are well versed on this topic. I watched ESPN last week for five minutes and they brought it up.

As with the word "fundamentalist" in front of Muslim, the term "conservative" in front of Christian bears enough of a social understanding that I don't think my sentence can be accurately construed as an indictment of all Christians.

I do appreciate your asking for clarification, though, in case anyone else was wondering the same thing.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

I completely disagree with your second to last paragraph, the one Miss Britt quoted. I am a liberal, staynch pro-choice, atheist who happens o love Tim Tebow (and not just because I am also a rabid Gator fan). His popularity with me is obviously not because of what you stated as fact. His popularity with me is because he is a good person who performs charitable acts, thinks about others more than himself, and has a positive attitude that lifts up hose around him. I choose to disregard his other beliefs... As I would hope he would disregard mine and believe I can be a good, positive person anyway. In a profession filled with criminals, rapists, greed, and general douchebaggery, I am grateful for his popularity and his influence. Do I love his beliefs? Yeah, not so much. But I love his actions.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMama

And OMG with the iPad typos. Dude, sorry. So unacceptable.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMama

ummmm....wait... what??? We have now translated "tebowing" into somehow holding back women and homosexuals?? Because he's a "conservative" Christian? So therefore every time some kid takes a knee and calls it "tebowing" that child is supporting a "conservative" agenda?? Does that mean that if I trade in my van for a horse and buggy I'm supporting the Amish agenda?? Do the Amish even have an agenda??? And really, is there any widely practiced religion out there that doesn't hold somebody down??

Seriously, if Tim Tebow is the worst that the NFL has to offer in "role model" category, I'm good with that. It doesn't mean that I want every Tebow fan to become a "conservative" christian, it just means that this man has some qualities that are worth emulating.

As for the It Get's Better campaign?? I wonder how many other athletes declined to participate and their reasons for doing so. Now THAT would be a discussion. Focus on the Family?? Meh.

Bill Maher? Was funny but hasn't been in years.

And just to make my comment that much longer... Because of my political affiliation I have been subjected to more than a few late night pollings. People like Pew and Rasmussen appear to have my number. Each and every time I'm asked about my religious affiliation. Each and every time I answer "Catholic" and each and every time they answer that with "So you're a Christian conservative" and each and every time I answer "No, I'm an Irish Catholic who has a gay brother and has had an abortion." To which they respond "There's no category for that". Just a reminder to be careful when applying labels....

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNyt

We have a similar concept. The way I've been taught this idea is that God has no need to share, so if you're glorifying him to shoe someone else -- well, you might as well be worshiping them, if that makes sense.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

I agree. Praying is good -- I like praying! I also don't think he's being disingenuous or showing off.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

I think what I was trying to say was that points like "haha he's so insincere/stupid/whatever" are distracting from a very critical point about an undercurrent of intolerance that seems to be sort of just accepted because he can throw a football.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

I used to think he was funny and very clever... but of late he just seems incredibly cruel.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

It also bothers me that even people who are vehemently opposed to that agenda in everyday life just sort of let it slide and spout admiration for his level of faith.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Totally counts.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Sanctimonious. Exactly. Also, thank you for getting this post.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Everyone has a story like that, I think. Theoretically speaking.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

He could be praying for starving children aaaannnd a touchdown. God is quite the multitasker, I hear. Heh.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Oh. I dissed him. I called him "the devil" in the podcast.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

First, let me say "Boo Gators." FSU!!

I assume you meant this sentence:Furthermore, his popularity is either rooted in implicit support for this paradigm or is aimed at garnering support for it.?

I can see where you got the impression that I was saying that you like Tebow because you agree with those politics. But that's not what I meant. What I meant was that I think part of the reason he does it is to garner support. At the same time, I don't doubt his sincerity to God -- I think he truly is sincere in his desire to serve God. In fact in the podcast, I'm way more complimentary of his behavior than I am in this post. This post is more about Bill Maher's reaction and his failure to adequately represent the leftist point of view than it is about Tim Tebow.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Yeah, yeah, now everyone knows you have an iPad. Show off.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Okay, We have now translated “tebowing” into somehow holding back women and homosexuals??

If by "we" you mean me, then the answer is no.

This post is about Bill Maher not Tim Tebow.

What I was trying to convey here was that Bill Maher, in addition to not being a terrific comedian, espouses to be someone who is very left and to be a person who is, to some degree, a promoter of a leftist, secular political agenda. Which it's no secret, I have an affinity with.

This post is about how Bill Maher or other people that have a beef with some of the politics that are affiliated with FoF shouldn't take Tim Tebow to task for praying. The whole reason I went into how Muslims pray all day long was to illustrate that the "Tebow" thing is not a big deal and that a lot of people pray a lot.

I don't have a problem with Tebowing. I don't think Tebowing or being conservative or being Christian means a person hates gay people or is pro-life, either, and I never said that.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Perhaps as much as Maher may be against the political views of FoF, isn't it possible he's even more against religion, and more specifically, the idea that a higher power can be influenced by prayer?

If the problem you have with Maher's comment is that it distracts from what you think should be criticized about Tebow -- which is how I've read your post -- doesn't that discount that Maher may not agree with you on priorities?

I don't know the content of Tebow's prayers. In fact, I'm not sure I've even seen him do this as I didn't watch much football this season. If there is no evidence about the specific content of his prayers, then Maher is assuming he's praying for positive results when he could simply be praying for strength. You know, something along the lines of the classic Serenity Prayer.

There's a huge difference between the prayer, "please let us win this game" and the prayer "please help us to do our best", but I think many non-believers assume the former is what's going on. Anecdotally, I feel that popular culture tends to depict the former, so that could be a contributing factor. However, Tebow's silent prayers should be given the benefit of the doubt. (Note that this presupposes that there's something wrong with the former prayer, which isn't necessarily true, but which I feel is a common belief, particularly among those looking to criticize religion or prayer.)

Did I have a point? Hmm... maybe, but I'm not sure I still have the same point. My point -- now -- is that if Maher considers religion a worse evil than the issues you mention, then that presumably makes his behavior more appropriate. However, I find his criticism hollow as it presupposes facts not in evidence. Thus, it is likely only to resonate with those who feel the same way as Maher. Of course, in the end, that's what most comedians' comments do. Rare is the comedian that can change people's opinions.

Not everyone can be Jon Stewart.

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRen

I don't think conservative is necessarily the same as fundamentalist, whether it's applied to Muslim or Christian, but I do get what you're saying.

Oddly enough, I watch a heck of a lot of sports and haven't heard anything about him being anti-gay. That makes me sad. I do not, however, think being pro-life is necessarily the same as being intolerant. But that's a whole 'nother discussion. :-)

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMiss Britt

i have no problem with tim kneeling during the games or outside of the games. troy (polamalu, steelers #43) crosses himself constantly and no one says anything about it.

i have a problem with people fixating on tim's kneeling. i have a problem with people concentrating on his prayers instead of his completions and scrambles.

the man is paid to play a game. if america can ignore ALLEGED drug deals, shootings, dog fights and rapes, why can't they ignore prayer?

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

how do you know what he is praying about?
most of my prayers are simple prayers of gratitude. considering most of tim's kneeling comes after a great play, perhaps he is offering a simple prayer of thanks?
honestly, i don't know. i'm a steelers fan and only watched him once when my boys sadly lost to his broncos. granted, i don't know what he is praying for so i would like to know how you have such knowledge? (if tebow gives interviews on such things that i don't watch, my apologies.)

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

Good points, both of you. I assume he's praying about football primarily because he's playing football while he's praying. It seems a reasonable assumption, but I do not actually know.

January 21, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterevilisgood

It's a good assumption.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

Wasn't it the mayor of Pittsburgh that lost the bet and had to Tebow in front of the press?

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

It's true -- not everyone can be Jon Stewart. I think I understand what you're saying... did you see Religulous? Maher's movie? My take away from that film is that he definitely has an agenda to "take down" religion, but his reasons for doing so are, he claims, rooted in the fact that a conservative religious agenda is the greatest obstacle to secular humanistic policies. So, it's hard to say which one he prioritizes.
In the end, I just don't like his style.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

If we're being totally honest, I have a problem that he helped UF win a championship. Go 'Noles.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaiqa

I haven't seen it, and I probably won't; my atheism is colored by a good deal of religious apathy. Or areligious apathy. Or something like that.

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRen

it amazed me that i heard so much grumbling about our (douchebag boy) mayor "bowing down" to tebow or "praying to" tebow. it was a stupid joke bet. my steelers sucked it up and lost (thanks for the reminder there, faiqa...wanna pour some salt in the wound next?). ravenstahl was stupid enough to accept the bet so at least he did what he promised to do.
fuck, i am all pissed off at the fact that the steelers lost to the broncos and now i can't concentrate. i don't even know where i was going with this comment. gah!

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

i am a fan of fsu because my favorite cousin, jane (and her sister, and her sister's son) went there. it might make you feel better to know that i was at the game in lexington where kentucky flattened tebow?

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhello haha narf

Hi, Faiqa! We follow each other on Twitter. :) I want to thank you for this post. I'm a Christian and I just returned from India. I have spent a lot of time in college, working on college campuses, and around diversity. I have always thought that American Christians could learn a lot from Muslims because of how much of an importance is placed on prayer. While in India, I had the honor to hear the prayer call every morning (built in alarm clock!) and all of us on the trip also used it as a reminder to pray and turn to God each morning. So I am grateful you are relating Tim Tebow's regular prayer practice to your own. I wish more people did this sort of thing. I probably fall into the "conservative christian" category in some ways, although I am not a member of a conservative political party. I just wanted you to know that I relate to your post and have shared it with my community as well.

June 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiz Barnett

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