I would like to be able to simply say Bryan Fischer sh*ts out of his mouth and leave it at that (it’s true, after all), but it would really be insufficient, because when stupid things are said they need to be countered. If you let the other side control the terms of the debate you also let them control its outcome. I’m a Heathen; I don’t do surrender.
So let’s give him a metaphorical punch in the nose instead and take look at Bryan Fischer’s latest verbal bowel movement. We going to the world of professional sports here, to the NFL – the National Football League – which for Bryan Fischer is also the world of Christianity. And there is some justification for this: professional football is full of conservative Christians. You can see them gathering and praying all over stadiums across on America on any given Sunday. That’s fine. It’s their religion; it’s none of my business. I’m there for the football, not the prayers.
Fischer says people hate Tim Tebow. No doubt some do. He’s one of those polarizing athletes that people either love or hate. Some people are just like that; you don’t find much middle ground. He’s not a great thrower, though he runs very well, and he wins but he wins ugly. He has a horrid throwing motion, for example, but so does Vince Young, who is also tough to beat in the fourth quarter of a game when his team is down.
But Fischer says that people hate Tebow not because of his questionable quarterbacking skills but because of his religion. They say people hate Tim Tebow because they hate Jesus.
Watch the video from Right Wing Watch:
“The reason that they hate Tim Tebow is that they hate Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ lives in Tim Tebow; is manifest in Tim Tebow; has demonstrated his life is being manifest in his mortal body and people hate it. They hate Tim Tebow because they hate the Jesus Christ that’s in him and that is being manifest in him. This is clearly to me evidence that this world lies in the grip of the evil one so I think Tim Tebow is a guy I think that we need to continue to pray for.”
Most readers no doubt know by now that I am a Heathen, a polytheist. I think it is equally evident that most football fans are Christians, since most of America’s population continues to be Christian. But I am also a football fan. I play fantasy football. I watch NFL Network – dare I say it? – religiously – during the football season and around draft time. I have played Madden and other computer or console football games and I have played Strat-O-Matic card football games. I used to collect football trading cards. I simply love NFL football. Love it.
And I am a huge Tim Tebow fan. Do I like his anti-choice stance? No, of course not. Do I like hearing about Jesus all the time? No. But what does that have to do with football? The guy is exciting to watch. No matter how boring the game may seem, things happen – unexpectedly. And he wins. The Denver Broncos were 1 and 4 before Tebow took over. They are 5-1 since, evening their season out. Putting them in the race for a playoff berth, perhaps even winning their division. I mean, who expected this? And it’s because of Tim Tebow.
If you watch a lot of football shows like I do, you see a lot of criticism of Tim Tebow by analysts, including former NFL players – quarterbacks included. Jake Plummer is one – a former NFL quarterback. Plummer said, almost seeming to speak to Fischer’s complaint,
“I think he’s a winner, and I respect that about him. I think that when he accepts the fact that we know that he loves Jesus Christ, then I think I’ll like him even better. I don’t hate him because of that. I just would rather not have to hear that every single time he takes a good snap or makes a good handoff. Like, you know, I understand, dude, where you’re coming from. . . . But he is a baller.”
Kurt Warner, a former Super Bowl quarterback and well known conservative Christian, is one of those who have been critical of Tebow. By Bryan Fischer’s logic, Kurt Warner, conservative Christian, must hate Jesus. How does that work, exactly? I have to imagine Warner would take issue with Fischer’s blanket statement. In fact, Kurt Warner, who now says Tebow’s play has won him over, and a class-act if there ever was one, thinks that Tebow should tone the religious rhetoric down a bit, and let his actions speak for him. Warner told the Arizona Republic:
“There’s almost a faith cliche, where (athletes) come out and say, ‘I want to thank my Lord and savior,’ Warner told the Republic. “As soon as you say that, the guard goes up, the walls go up, and I came to realize you have to be more strategic.
“The greatest impact you can have on people is never what you say, but how you live…. You set the standard with your actions. The words can come after.”
This is sound advice for any human being. It is sound advice for a Heathen and advice I have given myself. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t talk about being a Christian or a Heathen: BE a Christian; BE a Heathen.
Which brings us back to being a Heathen and a football fan. I don’t hate Jesus. I have lots of books about Jesus – the historical Jesus. What he said, what he might have said and most importantly, what he might have meant. The word hate is ridiculous: I didn’t know him so I can hardly hate him. He died a long time before I was born. I can no more hate Jesus can I can any other dead Jewish prophet; any more than I can hate Harald Hardrada or Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar. My seven-year-old uses the word “hate” like Bryan Fischer, but he’s seven. What’s Fischer’s excuse?
Does Bryan Fischer really think that other people look at Tim Tebow and see Jesus? I don’t see it. Jesus was a Jewish guy. Tebow isn’t. Tebow plays football; Jesus was an itinerant preacher. When I look at Tim Tebow I see the quarterback, that football player that he is. I am certain that is what most NFL fans see when they watch him. They are not seeing Jesus made manifest. They are seeing completions and touchdowns made manifest. They’re not at all the same thing. And the biggest dig against Tebow is that he is not making those things manifest enough to win a playoff game or a superbowl. He is barely making them manifest enough to win games at all.
The real problem here isn’t people hating Tebow because they hate Jesus. The real problem is Fischer’s hate. There may be people who hate Tebow because they hate his repeated public expressions of belief. It is something you can quickly sour on. I try to ignore it, personally. I don’t care what other people believe as long as they are not forcing it on me. But no more worry about Tebow’s religious beliefs than I do those of any actor or musician. I am not “into” them because of their beliefs or lack thereof, but because of their acting, because of the music they make. It’s the same with athletes.
They can form all the prayer circles they want before or after games, or when players are injured. I’m not in it; I’m not being required to be in it. I can get up and get a snack or go to the bathroom or turn the TV off, or flip open a book until they are done. Yeah, I’d be happier if they skipped it altogether while the cameras are rolling but hey, I’d rather do without Chris Collinsworth too. I still watch football.