Tebow 3:16

Here's what athletes (and other religious folk) ruined for us lately.

Since there’s a good chance this will be the last chance until next season he’ll be a viable topic: We need to talk about (fucking) Tim Tebow now.

Last weekend I made the decision to head to a sports bar, drop a wad of cash on cheap beer and artery-clogging delicacies, and view a football game in which I didn’t have a rooting interest. This is a rare occurrence for me. The whole point was to witness Tebow’s sure-to-be-reckoning with a stout Steelers defense, in the midst of actual Broncos fans, so I could savor their inevitable tears and cries to the deity above.

Of course, none of that happened. Tebow came through once again, one might say miraculously, in the greatest performance of his career. But while I didn’t get to satisfy my craving to view his fall from grace, I still left the bar in a state of contentment. I was actually happy he was going to be around one more week. To me, he’s become the equivalent of a WWE heel: you want them there to root against.

And I wasn’t alone. Not a single person in that bar was on the fence about Tebow—he was either loved (predominantly by Broncos fans) or despised (by most everyone else). Which is shocking because, by all accounts, he’s the most boring motherfucker ever to strap on a helmet.

His post-game press conferences are predictable to the point where you can simply copy-and-paste old transcripts and swap in new teams/players. His athleticism is so pedestrian that there’s a high percentage of half-drunk armchair quarterbacks who think they can play better than him (they can’t, obviously, but still). He’s never been part of a sex scandal, due to the fact he’s never had sex (he’s “saving himself for marriage”). He’s never been arrested for fighting dogs, or accused of rape (unlike, say, the quarterback I was rooting for against Tebow). He tries hard in practice, proverbially “leaves it all on the field,” and exudes a refreshing level of humility that’s rare in professional sports. In a vacuum, he’d be the most beloved figure in the game today.

But he’s not. Thus is the inherent divisiveness of religious beliefs. 

It’s not that Tebow’s simply a believer—with the various pre-game group prayers, instinctual points towards the sky, and “shout-outs” to The Jesus at the top of every victory speech, it’s safe to say athletes are a pro-religious bunch. It’s that he uses his celebrity to promote his religious beliefs; i.e., to tell other people what to do.

Star in a Super Bowl commercial for Focus on the Family, the social conservative group that spends their time hating gays and getting all up in the business of what ladies do with their bodies, and it doesn’t matter how pleasant you are, your skill set, or what charitable work you do in the offseason. All of that’s tainted because you’ve aligned yourself with a bigoted and sexist organization. Stick Bible passages in your eye black for national TV cameras to pick up (as he did while at Florida), and that might just seem like a benign way to promote your fandom, the same as wearing your friend’s band’s T-shirt or signing an online petition to bring back Community. But it’s really in the same shit-stirring realm as burning the American flag or sticking an anti-Occupy bumper sticker on your Jaguar. You can do so, sure. Free speech and all. But it makes you a dick. It’s an act of aggression that ultimately leads to more accumulated hate than love in the world, which seems antithetical to that whole WWJD way of life. Hence, why people root against him. 

With that off my chest (and: whew!), let’s go for another worldwide roundup of Dogma Gone Wild:

- Rick Santorum, who will no doubt continue being a central figure in these roll calls until he finally drops out of the race, reiterated his stance that states should have the right to outlaw birth control. And, oh yeah, he and his wife once had an abortion awhile back, whoopsie-daisy. In better news, fine citizens in New Hampshire booed him off-stage when he started running his mouth about how gay marriage will lead to cats and dogs, living together, etc.

- In Santorum’s defense, he’s really just taking his talking points from the man on high, Mr. Pope, who said this week that same-sex marriage is going to be the end of human existence

- As is His wont to do, God went ahead and spoiled who’s going to be our next President by leaning down and whispering into Pat Robertson’s ear. Let’s just cancel this election and force Marion Gordon (Robertson’s real name!) to spill.

- If you’re reading this on Friday, then right now, a pastor and his wife are holding a 24-hour long “bed-in,”—just like John and Yoko!—where they’ll discuss with internet folk how married couples can have quality sex lives. Head over to TheSexperiment.com and ask them if it’s OK to bang your immediate relatives, like a whole lot of the Bible says.

- Just for fun: Here’s some photos of old-timey snake handlers and faith healers from the 1940s, courtesy Life magazine.

- In Florida, where things like this tend to happen, a 25-year-old with a terrible beard was arrested by the F.B.I. for not being the “chilled-out-stoner” bearded type and more the “trying-to-blow-up-nightclubs-and-bridges-in-the-name-of-the-Nation-of-Islam” bearded type.

- In non-Big Three Religions news: Sweden officially recognized The Church of Kopimism as an official religion. What do Kopimists believe? That “information is holy and copying is a sacrament.” Or, more blatantly, sharing files on the Internet is A-OK. Also, The International Church of Jediism is a religion too, apparently. Like other religions, members of this group have also taken a vow of chastity. It’s highly likely it’s not by choice.

- Katy Perry’s father, an evangelical preacher, is not particularly fond of Jewish people.

- In somewhat positive news, a federal court of appeals overturned Oklahoma’s extremely racist attempt to ban Sharia Law. Not so positive is that fact that the ban was approved in the first place, by 70% of the voters.

- Nigeria continues to be a hotbed of religious warfare as Islamist militants continue attacking Christian churches leading to hundreds fleeing the region.

- China continues to repress Tibetan Buddhists; Tibetan Buddhists continue to light themselves on fire.

- Here’s a fun juxtaposition of a classic fire-and-brimstone damnation warning billboard right next to “the greatest liquor store in the world!”

- And finally, while this isn’t particularly current, one of my rules is that any time I stumble upon a group of creepy animals from the 1950s performing a nightmare-inducing rendition of “Jesus Loves Me,” I have to mention it:

Sweet dreams tonight, everyone.

Previously - Welcome to 2012 A.D.

Notice any religious-based news that might be right for the column? Why not send it along to rickpaulas at gmail dot com, already?