Bill Press is host of a nationally syndicated radio show and author of a new book, "TOXIC TALK: How the Radical Right Has Poisoned America's Airwaves." His website is billpress.com.More ↓Less ↑
Psssst! Don’t tell anybody, but I have a secret. I talk to God every day. And she told me herself: She doesn’t give a fig who wins the Republican primary. But you’d never know that, listening to today’s Christian political charlatans.
No less than four out of eight Republican candidates have said they’re only running for president because God told them to run. Michele Bachmann started it, insisting that God called her to run for president, just like he told her to run for Congress in 2006. Rick Perry told reporters: “God has put me in this place at this time to do his will.” And Mrs. Perry added: “God was speaking to me” that Rick should run.
At the same time, God was also speaking to Mrs. Rick Santorum, who told the Christian Broadcasting Network: “We have prayed a lot about this decision, and we believe with all our hearts that this is what God wants.” But nobody played the God card more shamefully than Herman Cain: “I prayed and prayed and prayed. … And when I finally realized that it was God saying that this is what I needed to do, I was like Moses. ‘You’ve got the wrong man, Lord. Are you sure?’” But, of course, that was before God also told several women to come forward and accuse him of harassment or cheating on his wife.
Now, obviously, if we are to take these candidates seriously, God is either confused, forgetful, senile, or just playing with their heads. If he really cares about who wins the Republican primary, he wouldn’t have told four different candidates to run. And, notice, he didn’t tell any of the four they’d actually win. God’s smarter than that.
The truth is, God doesn’t care who wins the Republican primary. And I’ve got another secret for you: She doesn’t care who wins the Super Bowl, either. But you’d never know that from listening to Tim Tebow.
You’ve heard of religious hypocrites who wear religion on their sleeves? As quarterback for the University of Florida, Tebow first attracted national attention – and 100 million Google hits – by wearing religion on his face. For every game, he referenced a verse of Scripture on his black eye patches. It was his way of saying to the world: “Hey, look at me! I’m a Christian! I read the Bible!”
Today, as quarterback of the Denver Broncos, Tebow takes religion to a new public level, dramatically dropping to one knee in prayer after every touchdown – a pose now officially known as “tebowing” – and crediting Jesus for every success on the field. Last week, after the Broncos’ overtime win against the Chicago Bears, Tebow gushed to reporters: “I guess, first and foremost, I’d like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Oh, yeah, and after that, “I just want to thank my teammates and coaches.”
To which I just want to say: “Shut up!” OK, so Tim Tebow’s a Christian. Good for him. He’s also a mediocre quarterback, is frequently sacked, throws wildly and often misses his target. Which is why, earlier in the season, he was dubbed “the worst starting quarterback in NFL history.” He can’t hold a candle, for example, to the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. And the fact that the Broncos beat the Bears is due more to the game-winning 51-yard field goal by kicker Matt Prater, plus his earlier 59-yarder, than any fancy footwork by Jesus’ pal Tim Tebow.
More to the point, Tebow’s constant praying to and braying about Jesus trivializes Christianity. If religion’s about anything, it’s about more important matters than who wins a bingo game or football game. And I was taught in Sunday school that one’s faith is not something to brag about. In fact, for his next black eye patch, I suggest Tebow sport Matthew 6:5-6: “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners. … When you pray, pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Now, if you’re one of the silly millions who still see nothing wrong with Tebow’s in-your-face brand of religion, consider this: What if Tim Tebow were a devout Muslim who bowed to Mecca after every touchdown while shouting: “Allahu Akbar!” Somehow, I don’t think we’d be celebrating him as a national hero.