During the first centuries of Christianity, Christians were thrown to lions in arenas to be jeered by mocking crowds. Today, Christian athletes face the taunts of a media strongly opposed to their faith.
No Christian athlete draws more media catcalls than New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. CBSChicago.com writer Dan Bernstein dismissed Tebow as “little more than an affable simpleton” and slammed his fans as “lunatic-fringe cultists.” Columnist Rabbi Joshua Hammerman of The Jewish Week expressed his desire that Tebow’s Broncos would lose a playoff game because a Broncos victory would “buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants.” Radio host Craig Carton was the latest to jump on the anti-Tebow bandwagon, calling him a “fraud” and complaining that he “clearly thinks he is Jesus” on his August 14 radio show.
Many journalists recognize that Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has become a lightning rod for religious conflict in America. What some columnists seem less willing to recognize is the intense hatred that he has engendered among those offended by his Christianity.
A Dec. 6 USA Today article by Reid Cherner, "Why Tebow Stirs Debate," acknowledged that Tebow's very public expressions of faith have caused intense religious controversy, and made some people uncomfortable. Cherner also quoted former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer criticizing Tebow for excessively preaching his outspoken religious faith.
Outspoken Christian athlete Tim Tebow, now the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, has been widely criticized by many in the media. NFL analysts are starting to admit that criticism, in large part, has been because of his faith.
''Inside the NFL'' analyst and former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Cris Collinsworth concluded that much of the hatred against Tebow was based on his religious beliefs. Responding to a question from fellow host James 'JB' Brown, Collinsworth showed his disgust for Tebow's treatment: ''It's unbelievable, though, JB, that one of the best kids - just pure kids that's ever come into the NFL - is hated because of his faith, because of his mission work, because of the fact that he wears it on his sleeve, because of the fact that he lives his life that he talks about.''