Tim Tebow down on one knee, praying in the Broncos' locker room.
Is Tebowing a caricature of faith? (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Tebow's Eye Black)

After unleashing yet another barrage of errant passes and lumbering into seven sacks courtesy of the Detroit Lions’ defense on Oct. 30 during a 45-10 loss, Tim Tebow proved what even the most faithful Denver Broncos fans knew but refused to admit – that he is not an NFL-ready quarterback. Strangely, the quarterback controversy in Denver has less to do with Tebow’s play and more to do with his displays of religious faith while on the field, a bended-knee prayer posture now known as “Tebowing.”

Religion caricature ‘out of bounds’

While it can easily be argued that Tim Tebow going down dramatically on one knee in the middle of an NFL game to pray amounts to a caricature of Christian faith, sports scribes like ESPN.com’s Jemele Hill say the actions of several Detroit Lions players who caricatured Tebowing during the Broncos loss was the true travesty. She asserts that they attacked Tim Tebow’s faith, rather than the ostentatious nature of Tebow’s very public displays of prayer.

Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch struck a prayer pose after he sacked Tebow in the second quarter. He explained in a tweet after the game that he was just having fun and intended no offense.

“Football is a form of entertainment,” Tulloch tweeted. “Have a sense of humor. I wasn’t mocking GOD!”

‘What if Tebow were Muslim or Jewish?’ asks Hill

By playing the obvious card that Tulloch and Scheffler would be crucified in the media if Tebow were Muslim or Jewish and they mocked his displays of faith, Hill gets one thing right and misses a more important point. Judaism and and Islam in particular are treated with kid gloves in the media in comparison with other religious faiths, and hence there would have been more public outrage if Tebow were Muslim or Jewish.

Surrendering the mind

While Hill makes no attempt to define why such institutionalized inequity of faith exists in the U.S., she unintentionally stumbles into a more important point. As secularists have maintained for centuries, no religion should hold primacy over another. Taking it a step farther, no religion should be valued above other non-religious forms of philosophical discourse. As biologist, lecturer and author Sir Richard Dawkins wonders, why should religion be given a free pass?

Speaking of faith during the May 23, 2005, Showtime cable broadcast of the skeptical inquiry entertainment program “Penn & Teller: Bulls**t!”, Dawkins said

“Faith is the surrender of the mind; it’s the surrender of reason, it’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals.”

If we cease to think, we cease to be. Or, as 17th century French philosopher René Descartes once wrote in Latin, “Cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am.”) Giving up what makes us human is not an action worthy of respect, and hence religion, like any other form of human inquiry, is fair game for all the ridicule it can handle. Just as Americans have the right to practice (or not practice) their religion of choice, skeptical individuals have the right to question faith – and Tebowing – which offers no concrete proof as to its legitimacy.

Larry David on displays of religious faith


ESPN: http://es.pn/rLha3e

Positive Atheism: http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/dawkins.htm

Stephen Tulloch Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/#%21/stephentulloch/status/131052803522183169

Yahoo! Sports: http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?slug=dw-wetzel_tebow_supporters_lighten_up_103111

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