What’s the saying? “It’s as American as baseball and apple pie?”
Football gets a lot of the love these days but whenever I go to a live baseball game—anything from little league to major league—I always feel like I’m part of something special, something quintessentially American. It makes me feel happily patriotic.
So this article got under my skin.
It bothered me in more ways than one. First of all, the headline (“Would Baseball Team Have Mocked Tebow’s Religion Had He Been a Muslim?”) is pure clickbait. Which I fell for (shame on me). And the article doesn’t give any context for the question it’s asking and doesn’t really attempt to answer it, which doesn’t matter because it’s the wrong question anyway.
The correct question to ask is: why is it ever OK to mock someone’s religious beliefs?
A person of faith in that cultural context is often treated like a pariah, made to seem less intelligent, less aware, less human.
I don’t know Tim Tebow. I’ve never met him so I have no idea what kind of person he is. But I do know that the way he has consistently professed his faith in spite of a tidal wave of overt and covert hostility heaped on his head for doing so has meant a lot to a lot of good people who might not have had the courage otherwise to be as open about their own beliefs.
We live at a time when the “high priests” teach us that we’re not spiritual beings, that there’s nothing divine about the human experience at all. We are “highly evolved animals, a cosmic accident and totally insignificant in the grand scheme of things.” There’s a disorder for every one of life’s speed bumps and a pill (or 20) to solve every problem, real or imagined. Or at least to numb us to the pain.
A person of faith in that cultural context is often treated like a pariah, made to seem less intelligent, less aware, less human. And it culminates in something as ridiculous as religious bigotry masquerading as the harmless antics minor league baseball is known and loved for.
It’s like some Orwellian, dystopian version of America where even our most time-honored pastimes are fertile ground for violating the very freedoms this nation was founded upon.
That’s not the America I want my son to grow up in. I’m glad the team got called out on social media. I’m glad their fans and the people of Charleston stood up and said, “That’s not what we’re about.” We should all be able to laugh at ourselves and allow ourselves to be the butt of a good-natured joke every now and then. But there’s just nothing funny about making fun of someone’s religious beliefs—ever.
It makes me optimistic that so many people reached the same conclusion in this case.