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Mares: Faith After Tebow

01/24/12 5:55PM By Bill Mares
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(Host) Commentator Bill Mares has been reflecting on religion in public life, in the post-Tebow age.
 
(Mares) Now that Tebow-mania has died down, after a crushing Denver  Broncos loss to the NE Patriots, rabid secularists can exhale. Tim Tebow, the Denver star whom the New York Times called "a Quarterback, a Winner, a TV Draw, and a Verb" became famous more for his PDR's - Public Displays of Religion - than for his razzle-dazzle play. His kneeling in prayer at game's end was modeled and mocked across the country. He wore Biblical verses on the blacking below his eyes. John 3:16 and Phillipians 4:13 were among his favorites.  But Tim Tebow's expressions of public faith seem harmless to me, when compared with the politicians and religious leaders who stir a collective witch's brew of fundamentalist beliefs and political intolerance.

This is not limited to Christianity, of course. In my high school history classes I showed a fascinating Frontline film called GOD FIGHTS BACK which compared the rise of the religious right in American politics to the Ayatollah's Shia' revolution in Iran - both during the 1970's.
           
As a member of one Protestant denomination, I'm offended that some fundamentalists have hijacked the very word Christian to imply that they have some special relationship with God. Candidates make pilgrimages to fundamentalist assemblies to pass their religious litmus tests.  So how refreshing it is to read what Catholic candidate John F. Kennedy told Baptist ministers who worried he would be overly beholden to the Pope. He said: "Whatever issue may come before me as president - on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject - I will make my decision... in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise."
       
Andrew Bacevic, a professor at Boston University, is critical of many fundamentalists for clothing our national purpose with divine will, and for creating, as he puts it: "a new chosen people serving as God's instrument of salvation, leading humankind onward to the promised land."
            
Even after four agonizing years of civil war, Abraham Lincoln saw the peril and  pretense of invoking the Almighty for our puny human ends.  In his second inaugural speech he said: "Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered - that of neither has been answered fully."
       
And now a confession.  Once, before running a marathon, I wrote "2 Timothy 4:7" on my chest, thinking I would strip off my shirt at the finish line to reveal my Biblical boost: I have fought a good fight, I have finished my race, I have kept the faith." But when I crossed the line I was so exhausted that I completely forgot.   Thank the Lord!


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