Skip Bayless Wasn’t Censored and Tim Tebow’s Pose Wasn’t Blasphemy

ESPN loves shows featuring talking heads. They’ll invite columnists with personalities to talk about any sports-related topic and the worst sin they can commit is being boring.

On Friday, one of their regulars, Skip Bayless, was eager to talk about this picture from GQ featuring a Jesus-like Tim Tebow:

Bayless tweeted this in advance of his TV spot:

Religious persecution? Really? I’m sure it might upset some Christians… but it’s not like Tebow was magically photoshopped in the image. He posed for it. How is that persecution?

That appeared to be Stephen A. Smith‘s position, too, when he debated Bayless on the topic on ESPN2′s First Take:

If you watch that video, you may have noticed how Bayless got cut off twice (at 0:58 and 2:43). He made his point very clearly, but commercials interrupted him on two separate occasions.

Now, some are crying censorship on the part of ESPN.

I don’t buy it. ESPN wants that conversation to happen. They love debate. The last thing they’d want to do is cut away from a serious, possibly-substantive argument. Seems like a production error was made somewhere along the line (possibly even locally wherever this YouTube-r lived).

Ultimately, Bayless got to make his (silly) point and Smith rebutted it.

It doesn’t even seem like Bayless noticed he was temporarily off the air since he just tweeted his thoughts later as if nothing happened:

It’s (again) a ridiculous argument to make. There are lots of Christian athletes in the NFL. But Tebow wears his faith on his sleeve (or his wristband) as if he’s more interesting in winning converts than games. That makes it fair game for criticism.

Of course, touting his faith has hardly been a bad thing for him. Christians love him even more for doing it and Tebow’s suffered no real penalties for broadcasting his faith.

If he were Muslim or an atheist and did the same things, I doubt he’d get away with any of this.

(Thanks to Eric 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.

  • Coyotenose

    Let’s not forget, or let the wannabe martyrs forget, that Tebow became infamous not for praying, but for first breaking the rules of his league, then the spirit of those rules, in order to pray. He couldn’t be trusted to act like a grownup at his job.

    • jdm8

      Tim  Tebow: follows Jesus, but forgets about that pesky famous teachings criticizing public prayer.

  • Randomfactor

    I figured that pose was going to draw in the idiots…

  • The Captain

    I think he’s mistaking the word “persecution” for “exploitation”. 

    Tebow is not being persecuted for his religion, he’s being criticized for his exploitation of it.

    • Golfie98

      Or being booted for allowing others to exploit his religiosity for their own religious evangelical agenda.

    • Miss_Beara

       Correct answer! 

      This isn’t “religious persecution” at all. They love to throw around that word.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Religious persecution? Really?

    But it’s not persecution, its “perspecution.” You know, like the “Perspecution of Joe the Plumber,” http://www.podfeed.net/episode/The+Perspecution+of+Joe+The+Plumber/1435387 or Dubya’s “They misunderestimated me.”

    • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

      Perspecution: to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate a class of people to such an extreme that they being profusely sweating.

      • Coyotenose

         GMBO, Felyx!

  • Helenatroy8s

    Dumb article. Waste of time.

    • Coyotenose

       Hard to grasp. Your argument is. Help does grammar.

  • farnsworth

    I didn’t realize Bayless was such a douche bag.

    I find it very very amusing when people refer to things as “blasphemous.”  Also quite silly.  And a little bit disturbing.  Are they going all taliban?

  • Gus Snarp

    Did people who saw this live have a problem with it? Has ESPN’s production gotten this shoddy? Because to me it looks like whoever put it on YouTube edited those commercials in, that’s how bad it is.

  • Janeseo

    Skip is a horrible sports “expert” anyways.  I’m surprised anyone takes anything he says seriously.

    • The Other Weirdo

       That’s like saying that there’s an excellent sports “expert”.  Every time I see these talking heads on TV, I’m reminded of Comicus, a stand-up philosopher in ancient Rome,  explaining to the Vnemployment lady what he does for a living and she summarizes it thusly: “Oh, a bullshit artist! Did you bullshit last week?” “No.” “Did you try to bullshit last week?” “Yes.”

      Thus it is with sports “experts”.

      • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

        My favorite listening to sports talking heads, is when they say something like “Well, they got to win.”,  “They need to score” or “They need to catch those passes.”   As if there is a time when you should not winning or not score, or drop the ball. 

  • Gus Snarp

    Did anybody watch the Olympics? Do they watch football regularly? There are countless athletes constantly pointing to heaven, kneeling, and thanking God for the things they’ve put in hours of sweat and work to achieve. What makes Tebow so important to fundamentalist Christians, when he’s not particularly unusual?

  • http://twitter.com/ftsor ftsor

    This must be some hitherto-unknown definition of “persecution”, because last time I checked, it wasn’t defined as “being payed a shit-ton of money to pose shirtless for a national magazine”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1351473675 Matthew Baker

      True Christian ™ Persecution Complex now with 5o% more Cross and if you call with in the next five minutes we will double the amount of scourges included.  Being part of the vocal majority with a church on almost every corner in a nation of mostly like minded individuals and  having a government willing to codify your privilege into law in direct violation of its Constitution doesn’t mean your not being persecuted.  Matthew 5:10, 5:11. Remember to Call now only 144,000 Complexes remaining get yours before they gone because we won’t be able to make this deal again.

    • The Other Weirdo

      ” Crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentations of their women.”

      Now that’s persecution!

  • http://twitter.com/ylaenna M. Elaine

    Tebow is the new Favre.  He just won’t go away. :

    Reasons I can’t stand Tebow:

    • He’s an attention whore…

    • …who exploits religion.

    • He’s a lousy quarterback who gets 10x more attention than others (i.e. Cam Newton) who
    are much more capable in that position and definitely more deserving of the attention.

    • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

      Bret Favre could at least throw the football.  And really for the first 16 years of his career he wasn’t that much of a diva.  

  • Margaret Whitestone

    Obviously some filthy atheist lured Tim into posing for that indecent photo.  Nobody as pure and holy as him would have done it otherwise.  

  • http://exconvert.blogspot.com/ Kacy

    21 comments already, and I’m the first to notice “Perspecution.”

    What the hell is “perspecution,” anyway?

    And that photo of Tim Tebow is incredibly HOT.  No “perspecution” here.

  • jerry lynch

    This “article” is both bemusing and bizarre: the presumptions are “rabbit-hole” infested. Smith and Bayles are equally absurd. Their exchange has begun to be assumed as news, when its wholly vacuuous quality goes ignored. Entertainment is only meant to distract, not inform, so opinions of every ilk are regrettably welcomed.
    Give me a break!


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