Tim Tebow and Freedom of Religion
© 2012, Vicki Hinze
It’s amazing. A man of faith simply expresses it by writing on his face, or by dropping to a knee to express gratitude, and factions of the country lose their principles and their sanity.
Last I checked, every citizen in this nation had rights. Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of Expression among them. So what a football player writes on his face should be up to him.
Now there’s that “No Infringing on the Rights of Others” part of every citizen’s rights to consider also. Way too often it is ignored or exploited. But writing something on your face that violates no laws, is not obscene, and/or dropping on a knee does not infringe on anyone else. Bluntly put, it’s no one else’s business.
That there is such a stir occuring over this astounds me. That anyone objects shocks me. Where are all those supporters of equal rights, equal justice under the law? Those who preached tolerance and—gasp—respect for others? I’m not hearing them. Are you?
That many are all aflutter over one man’s rights raises questions in my writer’s mind about motive. What exactly are they objecting to? And more importantly, why are they objecting at all?
There are many in positions of fame and power who flaunt obscenties and expressions that are disrespectful and intolerant. Where’s the outrage and upset over that? Many do so under the guise of them being infringed upon when they have every opportunity to simply disengage or ignore or walk away or turn off their televisions, visit different sites, or pages within sites. No one is forcing anyone to be involved, to participate, to engage. That seems to escape notice.
To infringe requires the absence of choice on the part of another.
An example. Someone attending a graduation ceremony at a CATHOLIC college objected to symbols of faith being expressed. What did that individual expect at a Catholic college? Who forced that individual to attend? Did someone hold a gun to his/her head and drag him/her to it, insisting that they endure and suffer the presence of those symbols?
If so, surely that person would have been arrested for unlawful detention. So if no one did, then what is the objection? And, frankly, where is the common sense? If you don’t want to go, stay home. But if you attend a Catholic college’s ceremony, it is logical and reasonable to expect to see religious symbols at it and for the ceremony to include religious aspects.
To freely attend and object to those things is evidence of your own lack of respect for the rights of others. The world does not exist to please you. So, pardon the venicular, but get over yourself and act like an adult. If your common sense and logic are engaged, and you find participation objectionable, don’t participate. You also have the Freedom of Choice. Exercise it—respectfully.
Now we see athletes wear branding icons they endorse all the time. Logos and emblems in golf, tennis, and other sports are abundant. In movies, we see products placed—that’s branding logos/emblems. On American Idol the judges drink Coke. On X Factor the judges drink Pepsi. But there’s no outrage or groundswell of objections to that. So why object to Tebow’s dropping to his knee? Why object to his statement of faith painted on his face? To him exercising his right to pray?
Is there really any difference is wearing an emblem on your sleeve, on your racket, on your shoe and writing on your face?
Perhaps the challenge is that those logos and emblems are for products and not symbols of faith. But if we are respectful of logos/emblems, how then dare we not be respectful of symbols of faith? After all, in our endowed rights Religion warrants its own stated right. The Founders didn’t include product placement by name. Which, do you suppose, they considered more significant to citizens?
We see obscene comments on t-shirts all the time. One of the most memorable to me was a young woman in her 20s wearing a t-shirt that read, “In case of rape, this side up.” Explain that to your young child just learning to read. Yet there was no fluttering, no complaining, no outrage over this. When a museum depicted “religious art” caked in human waste, there was upset at the lack of respect. The art won—Freedom of Expression.
The behavior on past incidents and on this one leads to a couple conclusions.
- Many citizens don’t understand the concept of Freedom of Religion and/or Expression, and don’t understand that it carries the responsibility of not infringing on the rights of others (Declaration of Independence, under the pursuit of happiness). They don’t get it and don’t want it. But the truth is you can’t have one without the other. They are an interlinked duo, forever entwined. That said, an expression or exercise of a freedom does not rise to infringement simply because you don’t like what someone is exercising or expressing. Your comfort is your responsibility just as your actions are your responsibility.
- At the core of this is the war on Christianity. If Tim Tebow were Islamic, would anyone dare say a word? Probably not. When our leaders won’t call terrorists trying to kill us, terrorists trying to kill us, and won’t call the Ft. Hood masacrist a radical Islamic terrorist, you have to conclude odds are pretty high against it.
Christianity is under fire around the world. Too few fail to see that war as not a battle for your soul but a battle for power and control over you. That’s what it is. Throughout history, God has to be removed from a society to effectively enslave and control people. Reliance on government, not Diety, is key to total power. Total power is of course total control (and total corruption) and also results in the total loss of individual rights and freedom.
Why people don’t realize that is beyond me. It’s happened again and again in recorded history. Those who do realize it, see and know what is happening. Those who don’t will be ones who wake up one day stunned that they can’t breathe without someone else’s permission, much less buy food, water, medicine or other essentials.
You would think that threat of someone else having total control over you would be important enough to people that they’d review what has happened in history. They’d look it up. It is, after all, up close and personal—their own everyday lives that are and will be impacted so fiercely. Yet some will look it up—the Seers—and some won’t—the Stunners.
- Groups with their own agendas who are typically ignored jump on someone like Tim Tebow to gain momentum and attention for themselves. They’ll protest, they’ll talk to media (who should be covering serious matters they choose to ignore in favor of positons they personally choose to perpetuate) and get the attention they seek—for a moment. The motivation isn’t so much to slam Tebow as it is to elevate their own will or cause or opinions. So they gladly tear his down to lift their own.
The problem is that method doesn’t work. It doesn’t bring about lasting change or elevate anyone. That makes this path an extremely shortsighted one to walk. Life’s lessons will eventually teach the people in these groups the wisdom in an ancient Chinese proverb: Before you dig a grave for less than honorable purposes, dig two. Because when you deliberately and willfully hurt another, the person suffering the most harm is you.
So Tim Tebow wants to pray. He wants to express gratitude and glory to God. He is honestly and openly living his faith, injuring no one, causing no harm. He is exhibiting values, morals and ethics and serving as a role model for those who choose to watch him. He’s not just talking the talk, he’s walking the walk. His walk. His way.
Now whether or not one agrees with him, what exactly in what he is doing is objectionable? Legally wrong? Morally wrong? Harmful or destructive?
Nothing. Actually, there’s a lot to admire in a man conducting himself based on his beliefs, his principles. There’s very little that anyone of character exercising logic or reason should object to, and yet the objections continue. Through our own logic and deductions, we explore why and discover the appearance that those objections are seated in nefarious, self-serving motivations and not in truth. Not in faith. And not in respect.
More’s the pity.
So my point is this: Continue to walk your walk. Remember that ten of the twelve Apostles were martyrs for their faith. They were ridiculed, crucified upsidedown, boiled in oil, isolated in a cave, imprisoned, and suffered other equally horrific fates. Yet they walked on. They lived their convictions. And they knew that…
Life is precious but short. Eternity lasts a lot longer.
And for strength to continue your walk in the face of adversity, remember God’s promises to you. What others intend to harm you, He will turn to good.
Perhaps the greatest fear of opponents is that you’ll succeed in being a role model to others. When some are bent on suppressing and even eradicating faith from our country, you’re their worst nightmare. But you’re also proponents’ hope. A lightbearer that puts faith in the minds of and on the tongues of people who need it, want it, seek it, but are so lost they can’t find it. You’re shining light on a path that, if they so choose, they can follow.
So, the bottom line is to walk on. Keep the faith. And your rights to exercise and express it.