Fox News is once again dredging up a controversy where none exists. They have been in a hysterical frenzy over the supposed outrage of critics of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and his gridiron genuflections.
Personally, I find it absurd, and even insulting, when a sports figure thanks God for their victory. It implies that the players on the opposite team are somehow allied with Satan or otherwise out of God’s favor. It further implies that God cares about the outcome of a ballgame as much as he does about the welfare of the world and the eternal souls of his children. But how people express their own spiritual beliefs is up to them and doesn’t rank very high on my outrage meter.
Fox News, on the other hand, is very disturbed by what appears to be an imaginary outcry in opposition to Tebow’s expression of faith. They have broadcast numerous stories vilifying Tebow’s critics, but have yet to identify a single one. They call Tebow “God’s Quarterback,” and lament his treatment by the secular press. Both Fox & Friends co-host Gretchen Carlson and America Live host Megyn Kelly have anchored recent segments speculating on what would occur if Tebow were Muslim instead of Christian. And both concluded that the reaction would be far more tolerant of Islamic expressions of faith.
Where on God’s green Earth did they get that idea? Coming from a network that has invented a War on Christmas and brazenly incited hateful opposition to a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, calling it the “ground zero mosque,” this approach to their non-story is decidedly delusional. An even worse example is the recent controversy over the Learning Channel’s program about ordinary Muslim-American families in Dearborn, Michigan.
TLC’s All American Muslim has been the victim of rabid acrimony from anti-Islam organizations and individuals. These bigots have succeeded in getting some advertisers (notably Lowe’s Home Improvement Center) to remove their ads from the show. Their complaint is that the program is deceptive in that it shows only peaceful, patriotic, families that are just like every other American household, rather than sneering terrorists bent on slaughtering their infidel neighbors.
The evidence is clear that if Tebow were a practicing Muslim who praised Allah after every touchdown pass, the same bigots who protested TLC and Lowe’s would show up to blitz Tebow with racist slurs and insults. And Fox News would lead the parade with story after story about how disrespectful it is to shove in the face of American sports fans what Fox would characterize as the religious perversions of a people who want to destroy the country.
Fox was adamant about what they portrayed as the immorality of allowing an Islamic community center to be built two blocks from the former site of the World Trade Center. Why would they behave any differently if a celebrity sports figure openly displayed his reverence for Islam? And why would the Fox audience suddenly acquire a tolerance of religious diversity that they have never demonstrated before?
As I noted above, it doesn’t matter to me how Tebow celebrates his victories on the field. And to his credit, he has said that he doesn’t believe that God cares who wins or loses these games. But it is disturbing that a major, mainstream news enterprise overtly professes to spiritualize a game by anointing a player as “God’s Quarterback” and then fabricates a campaign against him in order to whip up an evangelical firestorm, all in the pursuit of controversy and, ultimately, ratings.