If Tim Tebow Were Muslim…

… would the country still love him? Would the still be the most popular athlete (according to an ESPN poll)? Would he still get away with putting messages on his uniform if they read “Insha’Allah”?

Tebow and Jesus on Saturday Night Live

Salon’s Marcus Cederstrom says the odds are against it:

So I ask, what if Tim Tebow were Muslim? How would our society react if during every interview, Tebow said “Insha’Allah” or “Allāhu Akbar” rather than thank his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? Or instead of falling to one knee and praying, Tebow pulled out a prayer rug and faced Mecca? A recent study by the Pew Research Center suggests it would not be well received. While American Muslims in general tend be satisfied with their lives and communities in the United States, 55 percent report that being Muslim in the U.S. has become more difficult since Sept. 11. Twenty-eight percent report that people have viewed them with suspicion and 22 percent report having been called offensive names. The TLC show “All-American Muslim” has lost advertisers who were pressured by groups claiming that the show was Islamic propaganda. Yet Pat Robertson claims that the United States is a breeding ground for anti-Christian bigotry.

… as Tebowmania makes its way into politics, sports, religion and the everyday life of the mainstream United States, it is important to think about how we approach religion in this country. How we approach religious freedom in this country. Do we accept freedom of religion, any religion? Or do we accept freedom of Christianity?

I would argue a Muslim athlete would still fare better in the public’s opinion than an atheist athlete: Better Christianity than Islam; better Islam than nothing at all.

(Thanks to Garrison for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Greathouse/100003343289222 Andrew Greathouse

    Religion is a means of weeding out the stupid and gathering them in big buildings so you know who they are >.>. They wonder why we get quite upset …

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

      Ah yes, the all religious are stupid comments. And yet you get upset when they fire back and say all atheists are immoral. You’re clearly one of those “the world should be tolerant of my beliefs, but I shouldn’t have to be tolerant of your beliefs” And then you call the religious people hypocritical? I find it hard to take you seriously.

      • Brennan

        Right on 

      • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

        Look, lady. You sound like someone who wouldn’t take atheists seriously regardless of what any of us say. Personally, I don’t give a flying fuck if you tolerate my beliefs because I already know a Christian will NOT just as they don’t tolerate Islam or any other religion. Therefore, I don’t see why I have to kiss Christian ass and pretend it’s anything more than mass delusion.

  • Holly

    What about Lance Armstrong? Sure, he’s just one example, but he does get generally positive media coverage. 

    • novabeatnik

      Armstrong doesn’t wave his belief(or lack of) in everyone’s face. plus cycling isn’t even close to football in popularity.

    • Anonymous

      Maybe the fact that he’s agnostic and not atheist doesn’t incite a fundie’s internal “threat” meter?  It sounds like he doesn’t make a big deal of it either.

      • Anonymous

        he’s agnostic and not atheist

        Armstrong’s been quoted saying: “If there was a god, I would still have both nuts.”

        Sounds like an atheist to me.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

          Sounds like someone is bitter to me.

          • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

            If you had cancer and people tell you that you’re BLESSED to be alive even if you don’t believe in the “blessing”, I’d be bitter too…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G4SXYF4CJJLMDL4EKRNQJKPDCU Smokey Bear

    Love is an archaic term used to describe biochemical synaptic activity. Highest degree of

    maturity of the human organism  can be attianed by discarding primitive notions such as

    religion, and social conventions such as “love, hate, dreams, desires” because that too is

    archaic terminology for brain chemical activity.

    “heart, soul” is imaginary. Its only chemicals. To call it anything more is ludicrous,

    unntelligent, primitive. It limits the potential of the human brain into a mould constructed

    for the purpose of social control that curtails further evolution of the human species. To

    eradicate this control is to experience the higher potential of the human brain. “Mind” is an

    archaic term used to identify Collective Synaptic Activity of the brain. Therefore, one should

    refer to this collective activity as CAS. Precision in measurement of the synaptic activity

    level”what archic people call levels” may be addressed using alphnumerical designations.

    “Love” equates to the modern SA (synaptic activity) 145, etc.

        “morality” is an archaic concept, used to CONTROL and LIMIT the growth potential of the

    human organism. In the absence of other human organisms, morality is unecesary. Survival of

    the Fitest is what evolution of a species is about. “morality” occupies a high percentage of

    brain space, space which can be used for other, more desirable neuropatterns. The foolish

    stories, fairy tales, fables, and even disciplary lessons from parents severly inhibit maximal

    use of CSA.

    Morality does not exist. It is not empircal nor visible.

    “morality” is unscientific and primitive. reminiscient of bronze aged cultures. Utilizing the

    same conditioning principles of Pavlov’s dog. It severly restricts the biochemical neural

    activity in the brain, thus reducing the Collective Synaptic Activity of the brain. In the

    language of the less evolved human organsim, “it shrinks your mind.”

    Instilling optimal neural patterns in the brain to ensure growth and evolution of the human

    organism: In modern society, which still restricted to the archaic concepts of “mind, heart,

    soul” it is simply not possible for a superior organism to utilize those traits to the degree

    required in the survival of the fittest. For the fittest to survive, they must not be

    contaminated with archaic social controls of “morality.”, which again, is a primitive

    designation for a superfluos biochemical process which detracts from the more important brain

    functions. The objective of a truelly intelligent and highly evolved human organism is to

    survive and to dominate. Indeed, if the human race is to be evolved to the fullest extent, the

    human organism espceially of greater physical and brain capacity must dominate and overide

    these conventions during interactions with other human organisms.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G4SXYF4CJJLMDL4EKRNQJKPDCU Smokey Bear

    Love is an archaic term used to describe a particular biochemical synaptic activity within the limbic system of the brain. Highest degree of  maturity of the human organism  can be attained by discarding primitive notions such as religion, and social conventions such as “love, hate, dreams, desires” because that too is archaic terminology for brain chemical activity.

    There is no such thing as a “heart”. It is not located in the chest. It is another term used to affect control by primitive societies, a superstitious way to to access and control the limbic system. It is therefore imaginary. 

    These collections of imaginations tend to occupy and deplete the brain of  valuable neuro-chemical resources that can better be use for something more useful.

    “heart, soul” is imaginary. Its only chemicals. To call it anything more is ludicrous,
    unintelligent, primitive. It limits the potential of the human brain into a mold constructed for the purpose of social control that curtails further evolution of the human species. To eradicate this control is to experience the higher potential of the human brain. “Mind” is an archaic term used to identify Collective Synaptic Activity of the brain. Therefore, one should refer to this collective activity as CAS. Precision in measurement of the synaptic activity level”what archic people call levels” may be addressed using alphnumerical designations. “Love” equates to the modern SA (synaptic activity) 145, etc.

        “morality” is an archaic concept, used to CONTROL and LIMIT the growth potential of the human organism. In the absence of other human organisms, morality is unecesary. Survival of the Fitest is what evolution of a species is about. “morality” occupies a high percentage of brain space, space which can be used for other, more desirable neuropatterns. The foolish stories, fairy tales, fables, and even disciplary lessons from parents severly inhibit maximal use of CSA.

    Morality does not exist. It is not empircal nor visible. “Morality” is unscientific and primitive. reminiscient of bronze aged cultures. Utilizing the same conditioning principles of Pavlov’s dog. It severly restricts the biochemical neural activity in the brain, thus reducing the Collective Synaptic Activity of the brain. In the
    language of the less evolved human organism, “it shrinks your mind.”

    Instilling optimal neural patterns in the brain to ensure growth and evolution of the human organism: In modern society, which still restricted to the archaic concepts of “mind, heart, soul” it is simply not possible for a superior organism to utilize those traits to the degree required in the survival of the fittest. For the fittest to survive, they must not be contaminated with archaic social controls of “morality.”, which again, is a primitive designation for a superfluos biochemical process which detracts from the more important brain functions. The objective of a truelly intelligent and highly evolved human organism is to survive and to dominate. Indeed, if the human race is to be evolved to the fullest extent, the human organism espceially of greater physical and brain capacity must dominate and over-ride these conventions during interactions with other human organisms.

    Attempts to implement this has been successfully attempted on a national scale. Examples are China and USSR. Their suitability to lead and to develop the human race in evolution is proven via superior intelligence, superior strength, etc. demonstrated by their scientific and physical accomplishments in academia and sports. Strict controls are maintained to prevent contamination of the minds of the weaker organisms within those societies. Those countries are currently at the leading edge of human evolution.  Eradication of antiquated methods of accessing and or controlling the limbic system is imperative for maximal performance of the human organism. This is accomplished by accepting the FACTS.

    Those failing to accept those facts in the more evolved societies must be controlled, segregated, incarcerated, or otherwise classified as not only weak, but a BURDEN TO SOCIETY and dealt with accordingly, via psychiatric drugs, psycho-surgery, etc. On a national scale,  every effort must be made to subject, and if necessary physically combat, any entity propagating those poisons to the human race.

    • http://churchofthecasualchristian.blogspot.com Pryopizm

      Umm…what?

    • http://www.facebook.com/angus.bohanon Angus Bohanon

      There’s no such thing as a heart?

    • Anonymous

      OK, that’s all well and good, but given that’s not a reply to the article at hand, it’s basically spam.

      • Anonymous

        I think his was parroting what theists imagine atheists think… thanks to the prejudices spread by their indoctrinators, no doubt.  I suspect he (she?) is such a theist, in fact.

    • Anonymous

      Is this your straw man version of what atheism is?

      Perhaps you ought to start questioning those who lead you to believe such things. Or ask actual atheists.

      http://www.atheismresource.com/2012/pro-womens-basketball-player-comes-out-as-an-atheist

    • http://twitter.com/m_ethaniel Mistletoe Ethaniel

      Um, OK, I can see how you might be speaking out against psychiatric drugs here, but…

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

      I’m a bit confused. You’re saying morality limits the potential growth of a (single) human organism” (parenthesis = my addition), yet “survival of the fitest (sp)is what evolution of a species is about. 

      I’m thinking without morality there would be no evolution of this species. If everyone was looking out for #1 we would have killed each other off a long time ago. If I had no morals, then I would want to be the King of Earth. I would attempt to take power of the world for my benefit. Only a moral being would care what happens in future generations. Without morality, why would I care about having offspring. Offspring would just be seen as a drain on my resources. (time, food, shelter, clothing, water, etc.) 

      And I’m pretty sure the communist experiment didn’t go to well. The USSR doesn’t exist anymore and I don’t see China as being superior to anyone in baseball and they sure as heck couldn’t can’t hold a candle to our basketball teams now that we let professionals play. And Chinese or Russian football?!?! Not like soccer football, but REAL American football? I don’t see too many inside linebacker’s who are Chinese in the NFL!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

      I’m a bit confused. You’re saying morality limits the potential growth of a (single) human organism” (parenthesis = my addition), yet “survival of the fitest (sp)is what evolution of a species is about. 

      I’m thinking without morality there would be no evolution of this species. If everyone was looking out for #1 we would have killed each other off a long time ago. If I had no morals, then I would want to be the King of Earth. I would attempt to take power of the world for my benefit. Only a moral being would care what happens in future generations. Without morality, why would I care about having offspring. Offspring would just be seen as a drain on my resources. (time, food, shelter, clothing, water, etc.) 

      And I’m pretty sure the communist experiment didn’t go to well. The USSR doesn’t exist anymore and I don’t see China as being superior to anyone in baseball and they sure as heck couldn’t can’t hold a candle to our basketball teams now that we let professionals play. And Chinese or Russian football?!?! Not like soccer football, but REAL American football? I don’t see too many inside linebacker’s who are Chinese in the NFL!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

      I’m a bit confused. You’re saying morality limits the potential growth of a (single) human organism” (parenthesis = my addition), yet “survival of the fitest (sp)is what evolution of a species is about. 

      I’m thinking without morality there would be no evolution of this species. If everyone was looking out for #1 we would have killed each other off a long time ago. If I had no morals, then I would want to be the King of Earth. I would attempt to take power of the world for my benefit. Only a moral being would care what happens in future generations. Without morality, why would I care about having offspring. Offspring would just be seen as a drain on my resources. (time, food, shelter, clothing, water, etc.) 

      And I’m pretty sure the communist experiment didn’t go to well. The USSR doesn’t exist anymore and I don’t see China as being superior to anyone in baseball and they sure as heck couldn’t can’t hold a candle to our basketball teams now that we let professionals play. And Chinese or Russian football?!?! Not like soccer football, but REAL American football? I don’t see too many inside linebacker’s who are Chinese in the NFL!

      • svix

        Not like soccer football, but REAL American football
        WTF?

  • mkb

    Rafa Nadal also is treated well despite his non-belief.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to see Onion report on photos taken of Tebow meeting with David Silverman discussing what else Tebow can do to make Xians look even more silly.

  • Leon

    American society celebrates a christian who constantly reminds us of his faith. We suspect a mixed reaction for an islamic proselytizer. And we can be certain of a rain of hate towards an athlete who never failed to mention, “I’m happy we won, and I’m still glad there’s no god!” 

    So, what does our ideal world look like? The islamic fanatic and the christian fanatic ought to be regarded as equally deranged and dangerous. Tim Tebow reminds us with every chance that he considers us evil, that he accepts the bible as truth–and therefore he wishes death and suffering for us. Every one of his disgusting displays ought to be met with condemnation.

    If you think there’s a difference between Tebow and a Taliban witchdoctor preaching jihad, is it because of the content of his character or the color of his skin?  

  • http://twitter.com/m_ethaniel Mistletoe Ethaniel

    One time Richard Wade was giving advice to an atheist who was invited to a religious group function.  He advised the person who wrote in to recognize different types of questions, and in particular, the types of questions that were really statements disguised as questions.

    Come on.  Every question “asked” in this post is one to which every one of us knows the answer.  You know as well as I do how things would be different if Tebow were Muslim, let’s not pretend to wonder.

  • mysciencecanbeatupyourgod

    If Tebow were Muslim, he’d have to be an even better player and he still wouldn’t be as popular; still having active haters hurling invectives at ever game and on every internet chat thread.

    A high profile, successful Muslim sports hero would go a long way to open certain minds and make other heads explode. Muhammad Ali would be almost as controversial a figure today as he was in his prime.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RPPWVLMFKJ7QCHLEVQAR5GSL5M momma J

      In today’s p.c. climate though, he would NEVER have received this much press (negative or positive). Why? Because people simply don’t make fun of other religions, except Christianity. Can anyone explain why?

      Simply scroll around the cartoons on this site. No one makes fun of Buddhists, Hindu, Muslims or any there religious sect. IF one gets singled out it always seems to be Christianity. If Tebow was any other religion besides Christian, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be getting this much press coverage (positive or negative). If he got anything in this scenario, I bet it would be only positive and how its good to have a role model of another religion and that it helps promote “tolerance” But since he’s a Christian, look out! He becomes a lightning rode for all sorts of things. Why is that do you suppose?

      Try to look past the obvious “if you make fun of Mohammed and the Muslim’s will threaten to kill you” idea as in the infamous European comic incident a few years back (Norway I think).

      • kaileyverse

        In America, the religion most people are regularly exposed to is Christianity. I didn’t meet a person who was NOT Christian until I was in high school.  To this day I don’t know many Buddhists, Hindus or Muslims – and the ones I do know, aren’t asses about their religion (To be fair – many of the Christians I know are also fine people who don’t rub their religion in people’s faces). On the other hand – I have never had a Jewish person come to my house and try to convert me, I haven’t had a  Muslim person yell at me when I go to my job at a gynecology office that provides abortion services (or try to Bomb it).  Certainly people of whatever faith can be assholes, and atheists can be as well – but my exposure to Christian Jerks is a lot higher.

      • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

        You obviously haven’t been a member of this site long enough. We all participated in the Draw Muhammed Day, so have college atheist groups across the country, so saying only Christians get criticized is a lie. I’m pretty sure if Tebow was Muslim, he would be driven out of the league by now

  • http://www.facebook.com/angus.bohanon Angus Bohanon

    For what it’s worth, there are a LOT of prominent rappers that identify as Muslim (Jurassic Five, Wu-Tang) and they’re treated well.  On the other hand, Islam may be better-suited to them, as it fits with the sort of counter-cultural image that rappers often cultivate.

  • snowballs

    I saw a comment elsewhere that probably one of the reasons he’s getting so much press is because he does controversial things, and Christians eat that up.  That is, he catches flack from people sometimes (like from officials when he, well, breaks the rules), and so Christians see it as an opportunity to come to his rescue.  They LOOOOVE a martyr and they will jump at the chance to indulge their persecution complex and proclaim that evil godless liberals are waging war on Christianity.

  • Andrew Pang

    who the hell cares?

  • http://twitter.com/davelucas Dave Lucas

    Maybe it’s more like this: Like Good versus Evil?
    http://dave-lucas.blogspot.com/2012/01/rihanna-vs-tebow.html

  • Anonymous

    i would love for a popular player to convert. a player who used to do the whole “touchdown jeebus” routine, but has now switched to “bow to mecca touchdown.” that would blow some nfl watching minds. 

  • http://twitter.com/KevinSagui Kevin Sagui

    Sadly, most people don’t know Pat Tillman was an atheist.

  • Beans210

    Strong point. All points valid and much agreed. I suppose I am fortunate to exist in a place where I feel no personal condesenscion/condemnation for my belief. However, I realize the larger picture and the present discrimination we are subjected to as a unified whole, whether or not I experience immediate and direct affects of the resistances ploys. I do not go out of my way to announce my “faith” but I certainly do not hide it. I avoid and minimize religious conversations with those that define themselves as christians because they were led that direction yet have no idea what paramounts the concept of “their” christianity stands upon. I will debate with an educated theist…they seem to be a rare breed where I come from. So…in shory I smile and nod alot ;)

  • Anonymous

    If Tim Tebow were a Muslim, then a lot more people would be acting like internet atheists are acting now.

  • Anonymous
  • Dpcvine

    Most atheist wouldn’t bring their religion into the spotlight.


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