Attacking Gabby Douglas’s Faith? Really?

It’s a sad commentary on modern life when I heard an exuberant 16-year-old thank God for the greatest success she might ever attain and immediately thought, “Someone’s going to attack her.”  As surely as the night follows day, here comes

As a Christian myself (albeit one of those really freaky papist kinds), I’ve often wondered what it is about Christians like Douglas that unnerves me so. The closest I’ve been able to figure it is that Douglas and her ilk seem to espouse a faith based on what is commonly referred to as “The God of Parking Spaces.” It’s the deity that grants wishes to those who ask nicely. Douglas is a girl who has described God as the figure who’s “waking me up every morning and keeping me safe in the gym every day.”She told People Thursday, “I was on the bus and it was raining and I thought, ‘It’s going to be a great day.’ My mom used to tell me when I was little, ‘When it rains, it’s God’s manifestation, a big day’s waiting to happen.’ I texted my mom, ‘It’s raining. You know what that means.’” It means that Russian girl is going down, I guess.

Thank you, Salon, for that oh-so-snarky takedown of a triumphant teenager.  What makes it even worse, of course, is that Gabby’s life has hardly been full of sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns before this moment.  She’s known more fear and heartbreak than the average teenager.  Her father’s an NCO in the Air Force, and her parents are divorcing under the strain of multiple deployments:

The pressure to perform to the best of her abilities without her father by her side was at times too much for ‘The Flying Squirrel.’

While living with her coach in Iowa, Gabby would often wake up with anxiety about her father at war.

She would rush to her computer and try to contact him on Skype.

‘[I] Just had bad days in the gym, thinking about my dad,’ she said to NBC before the Olympics.

‘I’m just like “Whoa, what if he doesn’t come back (from Iraq)?” I was just horrified. I prayed every night.’

While Gabby gave most Americans a moment of joy last week, her family has been sacrificing in deep and profound ways far, far from the spotlight and far from Salon’s condescending “tolerance.”  Had Salon done its homework, it would have seen that Gabby does not in fact simply pray to the “God of Parking Spaces” but instead to the God who watches over a father at war, to a God who provides comfort in the midst of family heartbreak, and yes to a God who gives good gifts to His Children including — very rarely — an Olympic Gold Medal.

If the writers at Salon can’t watch a child thank her Lord and Creator for a great day — maybe even her greatest day — without sniping at her faith, perhaps they are the ones who need to grow up.

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  • Dierdra

    Thanks for hitting points.

  • Josh Brewer

    It could be worse. She could be a troll.

    • hitchin1234

      Could be worse…you could be an idiot. Oh wait…with a comment like yours…YOU ARE an idiot.

  • Galen Dalrymple

    Well put!!!!

    • Ron Elkins

      I’m not casting my pearls to the swine, M’t 7:6. 10-to the idiot comments.

  • gina

    Well said Mr. French.

  • Molly

    Mr. French,
    On a day when people who have done nothing more than peaceably assemble in order to pray together in their own place of worship have been sniped at with real bullets, are you really calling a single paragraph in an on-line news magazine an attack? Really?

    Oh right, those who were killed and possibly maimed for life today in Wisconsin were not Christians, so I suppose something else happened to them.

    All snark aside, in that Salon article I see a person expressing a point of view. Is it a snarky point of view? Yes. This person clearly does not understand Gabby Douglas’s faith, has done a very poor job of researching her background and what may have contributed to that faith and has created a ridiculous name for what s/he hears, but I would hardly categorize those statements as an attack.

    Rhetoric like this, not to mention the odd persecution complex that fuels it, does not help anyone. Particularly on a day like today.

    • Robert Waters

      Yeah, Molly. It’s an attack, an your attempt to wigggle around that word is really rather pathetic.

      The illiberal Left’s anti-Christian bigotry will remain bigotry even if its (verbal) gymnastics rival Gabby’s. And by trying to excuse it, you’re simply contributing to the reign of snark that has buried our culture from both sides of the political fence.

  • Molly

    Edited to add: And as I read, I realize I am also guilty of inflammatory rhetoric in the second sentence of my comment. I apologize. I stand by the rest of the comment, but that statement was completely uncalled for.

    • Robert Waters

      Yes, your statement was completely uncalled for, Molly.

  • GM Roper

    I had the same thought you did, at exactly the same time. I’m so sorry we were both correct.

    • David French

      Correct about what?

  • CC

    I can’t help but think of the lyrics to a song that tells how, as believers we will praise Him ALWAYS…not just in the good times. Let them snipe. This young lady praised the One she should be praising and the only reason they’re sniping is because of something deep within that makes them lash out at things they don’t understand.

    In darkness, In trial, my soul shall sing
    Of his mercy, and kindness
    Our offering of praise
    Our God never fails
    Our God never fails

    • Janice


  • Margaret Kelly

    Gabby Douglas is a beautiful young woman, inside and out. She has her priorities in order, something may never achieve unfortunately.

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  • Carlos Weinheimer

    Well written response, David. Bet if she was giving thanks to Allah, nothing would be said.

  • Lauren

    Hey Mr. French, while it is encouraging to see you standing up in approval for Gabby’s profession of Christ, let’s not forget that we can’t always take a person’s word at face value. Though I love to see such a young girl seeking Christ, life is hard even before the spotlight shines, and many people have a tendency to make little remarks about God without ever showing any real faith in Christ at all – as it says in Titus, “They profess to know Christ, but by their deeds they deny Him.” Obviously, I don’t know Gabby, so I can’t say whether or not she’s truly a Christian. But let’s be cautious about wholeheartedly agreeing that someone is so definitely for Jesus if we can only see their lips talking.

    • Marcus

      I have been a Christian now for about 40 years. I love the Lord and what He has done for me. I run a Non-profit that serves others. I have also worked with youth and taught them of His love for us. I have lead Bible studies and been known as an all around good man. I also agree with you that we need to be careful. However and it is a HUGE However, If we are to be honest totally and completely honest. Titus can also be written to each and every one of us. I can’t believe some of the things I have done or thought. My thoughts and sometimes actions do not always represent Christ. If someone gives praise to God I am going to say AMEN. Remember Jesus Disciples wanting to go and stop others from talking about God and the Kingdom? What was Jesus response? God check it out for yourself you might just be surprised.

      • Patrick

        Marcus…well said, thank you.

    • Art Clark

      Lauren, that kind of critical thinking is in order after someone proves to be false, not before.

  • Jere

    It’s almost funny. If she had proclaimed her victory to be the blessings of the incumbent “Dear Leader,” like North Korean weightlifter Om Yon Chol recognized Kim Jong Il, Salon would probably be calling for her to give the keynote address at the Democrat National Convention.

    • Pita.O

      Jere says “It’s almost funny. If she had proclaimed her victory to be the blessings of the incumbent “Dear Leader,” like North Korean weightlifter Om Yon Chol recognized Kim Jong Il, Salon would probably be calling for her to give the keynote address at the Democrat National Convention.”

      Jere: I believe you meant to say: Republican National Convention? That is the party whose leader is Mormon: people who (like worshippers of Kim Jon Il) worship Joseph Smith, a “Jesus Christ” other than the one true God in the Bible.

      • Gonzo

        While I understand the anti-Republican bias you’re coming from, Salon is a mouthpiece for the far-left. They aren’t going to denounce Kim Jong Il to their readers by associating him with Republicans. There is also a huge difference between being of another faith, and being subjugated by a system set up by a egocentric madman.

      • Cassandra

        That’s incorrect. No Mormon worships Joseph Smith. We partake communion every Sunday in remembrance of the atonement and death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  • Ronke

    Let’s all join hands and accentuate the positive about Gabby Douglass…and by so doing we all will eliminate the negatives.

  • midwestlady

    I have no idea why people can’t just leave each other alone. And that goes for all sides. Can’t everybody just shut the hell up and let the kid enjoy her medal?

  • jeff

    I am wiccan myself, but it is wrong judge someone for what they believe. Whatever happened to the first amendment?

    • kopernikuz

      The first amendment says nothing about judging someone for what they believe. If anything it gives you the right to voice your judgment, lol. It gives Gabby Douglas the right to espouse her faith and it gives Salon the right to be snarky and judgemental. Built into the first amendment is having to put up with ignorant things being said by people we don’t agree with.

      It also means I can say Salon is hardly a bastion of fair-minded intellectual discussion, lol.

  • Garrett

    How does it feel to be the arbiter of genuine faith, and who dubbed you as such anyway? I’d take her kind of faith over yours any day.

  • Sol Derevin

    David, you are such a loving Christian. The day after 6 Sikh Americans were gunned down in their house of worship, you are obviously so stricken with grief that you are unable to post a word about it. What a wonderfully loving man you are! Fortunately, you have found a way to bury your grief in posts about “attacks” on Christians. Classy! I expect that we will see your continuing concern and care for the Sikh community in the form of posts about the election and your wife’s thoughts on TV shows.

    • Megan

      As a Jewish woman and a mom, I have to step in here and say to Molly and Sol, it’s inappropriate to EVER mock a child’s faith. Any religion. Any time. And trying to turn this around on the writer and suggest that he doesn’t care about the Sikhs just because he wrote about an Olympic medal winner is a reach. Could you not even once admit that we HAVE been persecuting Christians? That the biases against them are growing, that they are chilling, false more often than true, and shockingly similar to those at the beginning of the Jewish persecution that led to the Holocaust? As a person of Jewish descent, I can only say may this never happen to you.

      • Lj

        Megan- I was thinking the same thing about how the holocaust began and how eirily similar that is to the mindset that many have about Christians nowaday.

    • Alec

      Sol, Never mind that this was posted SUNDAY in response to an article posted on FRIDAY and was likely written on SATURDAY before the shooting in Wisconsin on SUNDAY. But, let’s not let a little factoid and logic interrupt our spewing of vitriol and sarcasm.

      • David French

        Yep, this article was written well before I heard of the shooting, but Alec you’re making the mistake of thinking that Sol’s comment was made in good faith. A prime tactic of comment board trolls is to avoid the substance of a post by saying, “How dare you write on that; you should be writing about this other thing!”

        • Sol Derevin

          Gee, and here it is late Tuesday, and you still haven’t a word to say about 7 Sikhs murdered in their temple here in the USA. Or to use your words to describe the murder of 7 Americans in their house of worship, “this other thing.”

          To repeat: Classy!

          • J Sargent

            Did you know that 3,287 children were forced into human sex trafficking on Sunday
            You pontificating jerk! Where is your decency, blathering on about the importance of your favorite tragedy, which should be foremost on everyone else’s mind too, because…ah… it was on the news? People suffer horrible crimes and injustices every day. People are discriminated against every day. We write about what we know about–what we have time to write about–without trying to please everyone.

            Your contention is hypocritical at its core. Anyone who thinks their tragedy is the most important is either right or a hypocrite. While mine certainly isn’t the most important, it is undoubtedly more important than yours–which makes you a dirty hypocrite for trying to pretend that all writers must write about those 7 Sikhs on Monday or Tuesday or be insensitive. How about the thousands of pre-pubescent girls introduced to heroine yesterday to hook them to a (thankfully short) life worse than death? They don’t even have cameras mourning for them. Where your sympathy there? Where’s your demand for their article, you insensitive prick?

          • Matt Fisher

            Yes, Sol, it’s a shame about the Sikhs who were shot, and that the permissive will of God has once again brought us face to face with the reality of human preference for evil. But if you can pin callous disregard for the lives of American Sikhs on David French — of all people — just hand me a pen, OK? I have to go scratch out that line in Ecclesiastes where the original Sol said there’s nothing new under the sun.

            Are you posting here by the sovereign rather than by the permissive will of God? That would be awesome. All I know is that you’re talking rashly out a part of your anatomy that was designed for soberly filling latrines. Contrary to popular opinion, intelligent design does not require defecating on the author of the manual, or on his friends. Times like these call instead for praying the Asher Yatzar. Have you tried it? I won’t hold you accountable for the wanton murder of any Sikhs, if you happen to coincidentally thank God at the moment of their deaths, for the miracle that you can still pinch your daily loaf. Granted, it’s no Olympic event.

            A little harmless humor, and I’m sure a smart guy like you gets the point. God bless you.

  • nina

    While there are Christians of the blab it and grab it variety, as a “papist” myself, I think the writer was out of line. As Catholics, we are called to charity and to give the benefit of the doubt. Shame on her.

    To explain how she.might possibly have come to Tue conclusion she does, I will say that Catholics generally don’t have the sort of God intervenes in every aspect of our lives to the smallest detail philosophy. So to hear someone give attribution to God for what seems to be minutiae could, quite possibly, just not compute.

    See? That’s how a Catholic does it and remains charitable. :)

    I apologize in advance for any posting weirdness. Blame it on my phone.

    • Mei

      Well, said. I’m a convert to Catholicism and I am ashamed by the article by the Salon writer. She really doesn’t know what she is talking about. God should be in every aspect of our lives. Christians are not suppose to be superstitious (if I do this or say that or see this sign–something will happen) but we can ask God to help us and pray for His intervention. I’ve read that God does hear our prayers and does answer them–often not the way we want (and usually we see nothing happen when His answer is a “no”–at least that is my take on it) :)

  • Pita.O

    Somebody, please send a message to for me:
    Gabby’s God whom you so glibly called the “God of Parking Spaces” said to the likes of me: “Thou shalt not kill”. You may be alive today because somebody took that seriously and believed. If you convince them that all those commandments are just psycho talk, then be afraid.
    He is not only the God that gives a young gold Olympic medallion hope and a thankful, worshipful heart that is submitted to Him. He is also the God who keeps you alive and walking free from the clutches of the likes of me who would not kill you because He tells them not to.

    • Carla

      “He is also the God who keeps you alive and walking free from the clutches of the likes of me who would not kill you because He tells them not to.”

      Does he? Always? Everyone? Or just certain people?

      I have no issue with what Gabby said. I think she’s wonderful and I’m glad her faith has given her strength. I wonder, though, about a gymnast of equal strength who worked just as hard and prayed just as genuinely…. and didn’t win. Did God not think that gymnast deserved it? Did God choose someone else?

      That’s what’s meant by the God of Parking Spaces. Should that article in have been written – no way. It was snarky and uncalled for. Is there some truth in it. Yes.

      I don’t believe God chooses winners or losers. But I understand that Gabby finds strength in the idea and there’s nothing wrong with that.

  • Janice

    Amen! I hope the attitude of not taking this wonderfully talented Christian girl athlete seriously, does not affect her confidence in herself. From what I’ve seen so far, though, I don’t think it will. She’s worked so hard for her success, and it’s not a “pie in the sky” attitude! It’s easy to criticize and be negative (as in the “” comment), but so much more fun and rewarding to be positive, and give people their due and respect. Go, Gabby!

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  • Catholic Christian

    I suspect that this is where Gabby is coming from: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. For this young lady to have learned this and applied it despite the difficulties she has experienced should be an inspiration to all of us.

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  • stella

    Amen! Looking around at everything that’s been going on lately, looks to me like a little religion might do people some good. Lots of angry people in this world!

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  • NotAChristian
  • Happy Yogi

    Many folks misunderstand that when we pray to God for assistance or strength or success – the goal is for us to connect to the infinite power of the Divine. It is for us to magnetize and open that channel to God, from which all joy, love, strength, endurance, focus, peace, etc. come… it is not for God to intercede on our behalf and trip up our competitor for example, or find us the best parking space. (of course that is a nice perk if it happens) Prophets and saints of all religious paths profess that we are made in the image of the Divine. To be our best in any endeavor it behooves us to “phone home” often!

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  • Isabelle

    How very big of you !
    Condescending Smug Pious Judgemental
    Good job …go look in the mirror Lauren
    You need to ask yourself that very question

  • Marc

    All in favor of this girl dropping the Jesus references and instead start burying statues of Mary in her front yard, say “Aye!”

  • eko

    I learned from Gabby to speak the truth of what is on my heart – too often (as an adult) I have bit my lip instead of professing love for and glory to God who HAS saved me – from so much, from myself mostly. ;-) I have seen through Gabby that faith is stepping out in the strength God gives – using the talent He gives us – and letting HIS light shine through us. I saw a determination, a love – and humility from Gabby – that I have not, myself – stepped out in faith ~ to live FULLY in God – through Christ Jesus. I pray Gabby stay strong in her faith – and always turn to Him for the passion He has given her – and may His praise always be on her lips!! This old dog – definitely learned so much from Gabby Douglass!

  • Liz

    Ronke and Meagan I agree with you both. Hugs to the world and let’s not forget how the Jews were vilified and blamed, robbed and massacred by … Oh yeah, our fellow human beings

  • BlueVA

    Gabby proclaimed her faith proudly; that’s fine. But this blog post called out only one part of an opinion piece and called it a “takedown.” That’s a lie. The Salon author discusses her faith versus Gabby’s. As a woman who’s fought cancer and lost at least two friends to the disease, she’s saying that she can’t view God as a being who sizes up one’s faith over another and bestows blessings/gifts accordingly. And I believe she’s right. Christians know that we cannot DO enough to get to Heaven; nothing we are capable of doing is worthy enough. We must accept the gift of the blood of the Lamb, acknowledge that Christ died for our sins. So, if I’m wrong, then I want to know what Gabby did that was so awesome that God saw fit to give her the Olympic gold, so I can follow suit. And I want to know, what did my father-in-law do that was so wrong that his Catholic upbringing couldn’t spare him from the horrors of war, PTSD, and an early death? What more could my Kindergarten classmate have done to avoid dying from leukemia? That’s the point of the Salon article.

  • alan

    From the UK I would say..Gabby is everything that has been in my though about US girls her age…extreemly cute…slightly unworldly but cuter for it…a very nice young lady indeed…be proud of her