Does your Tebow hatred know no bounds?

Thank God that the Broncos lost on Sunday. And we better hope they keep losing if only to save us from the horrors of Tim Tebow Derangement Syndrome. Rabbi Joshua Hammerman wrote a piece so bigoted against Christians that Jewish Week pulled it. Here was a favorite portion:

If Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants. While America has become more inclusive since Jerry Falwell’s first political forays, a Tebow triumph could set those efforts back considerably.

The piece also referred to Tom Brady and Bill Belichick as “moral exemplars in their home communities” and Denver as the “Oberammergau of the Rockies”! Tom Brady. Bill Belichick. If they’re moral exemplars, the Northeast is even worse off than I thought! Just kidding. I knew the Northeast was a God-forsaken wasteland. OK, seriously, just Boston is.

Anyway, Jewish Week apologized for the piece, reminding people that forgiveness is a virtue. And Hammerman himself apologized to Tebow and his family, football fans and anyone else he may have offended. Like, I don’t know, Christians, perhaps?

OK, so that’s the sort of tone with which some corners of the internet are discussing Tim Tebow. And by that standard, this feature about how the media should cover Tebow’s religion by Charles P. Pierce in Grantland is better! What other nice things can I say about it? Well, it only has a few errors. I read the whole thing, which is more than I can say for many other things I start at Grantland. What else? Pierce is a funny writer. The descriptions of his favorite no-gain and one-yard gain plays he’s seen are just great.

Onto the problems.

But, of course, that was not what the past week was about, either. Tim Tebow became “compelling” because he became a character in the great national dumbshow that is our culture war. And we should be very clear about one thing — he wasn’t dragooned into this. Nobody drafted him. He walked into this role with his eyes open. Before he ever took a snap in the NFL, he appeared in an anti-choice television ad with his mother that was sponsored by Focus on the Family, an influential anti-choice, anti-gay-rights organization founded by the Rev. James Dobson. He knew what he was doing.

(Added historical curiosity: Dobson was playing in the pickup basketball game during which Pistol Pete Maravich was stricken and died. Strike two.)

No, Focus on the Family was not founded by the Rev. James Dobson, though I’m sure such a reverend exists. It was founded by James Dobson, a psychologist. Not a reverend. And to speak of walking into a role of culture warrior with your eyes wide open, excellent choice of language on describing pro-lifers as “anti-choice”! Glad you got the memo. Twice, too! And I really like how the emotional phobia of Dobson comes shining through.

Which made a lot of the chin-stroking about Tebow’s religion over the past weeks pretty much beside the point. It has been argued paradoxically that his faith is both vital to his success and off-limits to criticism. This is, of course, nonsense. He put his business in the street that way, and he did so by allying himself with the softer side of a movement that contains other organizations that the Southern Poverty Law Center, which knows about this stuff, recently designated as hate groups. There was considerable thumb-sucking about the propriety of criticizing — or, gloriosky, perhaps even mocking — Tebow’s conspicuous religiosity. This was an ironical moment in that it came in the week that journalist Christopher Hitchens died, and it was Hitchens whom I first heard say, although he may have been quoting someone else, that the only proper answer a journalist can give to the question “Is nothing sacred?” is “Yes.”

Gloriosky it is. But as for the Southern Poverty Law Center … in their recent zeal to make it easier to bully opponents by labeling them “haters,” they sort of nuked the fridge. They decided that quite a few groups that have moral opposition to homosexuality are hate groups (Well, not all groups that are morally or religiously opposed. It was noted at the time that the list featured Christian and conservative groups but not Islamic ones). You might be more familiar with the term “hate group” when it’s used to refer to groups that incite violence. That’s not what SPLC means, but isn’t it easy how we can now just marginalize a group by saying “the Southern Poverty Law Center, which knows about this stuff, designated them as hate groups so you do not need to listen to their arguments at all, OK? And if you do, I will beat you up after gym class.” Speaking of violence, you might recall that the SPLC president was on national media the day of the tragic Rep. Gabby Giffords shooting blaming conservative ideology for the massacre. Because, you know, it “knows about this stuff.”

Anyway, Pierce goes on to point out that it’s a free country and many a people have made a lot of money mocking public religiosity. This is true. It’s a time-honored path.

Then Pierce conveys the shocking news — I gasped, when I read it — that Tim Tebow and his family are evangelical Protestants. I knew you could go to Grantland for essays, but breaking news, too?

Let us be quite clear — Tim Tebow adheres to a particular form of American Protestantism. He belongs to — and proselytizes for — a splinter of a splinter, no more or less than Mitt Romney once did. This particular splinter has a long record in America of fostering anti-Enlightenment thought, retrograde social policies, and, more discreetly, religious bigotry. To call Tim Tebow a “Christian,” and to leave it at that — as though there were one definition of what a “Christian” is — is to say nothing and everything at once. Roman Catholics are Christians. So are Lutherans, Episcopalians, Melkites, Maronites, and members of the Greek and Russian Orthodox faiths. You can see how insidious this is when discussion turns to the missionary work that Tebow’s family has done in the Philippines. This is from the Five Priorities of the Bob Tebow ministries, regarding its work overseas:

It is the goal of the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association to preach the gospel to every person who has never had an opportunity to hear the good news of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Most of the world’s population has never once had the opportunity to hear the only true message of forgiveness of sins by faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone.

And why is this so horrible?

It so happens that 95 percent of the population of the Philippines is Roman Catholic. Catholic doctrine just happens to be in conflict with what Bob Tebow and his son preach in regard to personal salvation. (To devout Catholics, for example, sins are not forgiven “by faith alone,” but through the sacrament of reconciliation as administered by a priest.) Bob Tebow’s goal is not to convert unbelievers. It is to supplant an existing form of Christianity. So who’s the actual Christian here? This is not an idle point to be made. Down through history, millions of people have died in conflicts over what a “Christian” really is, which is what so exercised Madison, and also what brought down a lot of Hitchens’ wrath upon religion in general. History says that as soon as you start talking about “the only true message” in this regard, you guarantee that, eventually, people will get slaughtered in the town square.

I’m just glad we finally got to the part where Christians are killing people! It’s not an authentic Tebow Derangement Syndrome column if Christians aren’t publicly slaughtering people in the town square, you know?

Anyway, by “95 percent,” he means “80 percent.” But yes, it is true that Catholics and Protestants have different views on the Doctrine of Justification. You can read more about it by visiting the 16th century.

OK, I’d love to end there but one more thing:

Earlier this week, some kids were suspended at a high school on Long Island for “Tebowing” — dropping to one knee in prayerful contemplation — in the hallways. Asked for his reaction, Tebow replied, “You have to respect the position of authority and people that God has put in authority over you, so that’s part of it. But I think it does show courage from the kids, standing out and doing that, and some boldness.”

First of all, God is involving Himself in how they select principals to run the high schools on Long Island? That’s a bear of an interview process right there. And you will note the obvious passive-aggressiveness in the second part of the answer. Obey your principal because God got him the job, but, damn, these kids are brave in their faith to defy the principal’s authority and, by extension of the first point, God’s. This is childish. It is silly. And it also makes my head hurt.

Wow, what an idiot Tim Tebow is. Where in the world did he get that crazy idea that Christians believe God puts people in authority? I am glad that Pierce is able to set him straight. I also love that Tebow, trying to thread the needle of not trashing some of his ardent fans by finding something good to say about their act and he’s thereby called “childish, silly,” etc. Maybe I watched too many John Hughes films in the 1980s, but it does show some boldness to risk detention through the time-honored practice of high school pranks.

Now, Pierce’s whole point is in his final paragraph:

If we’re going to have a real discussion about the place of public religion in our public spectacles, then let’s have one instead of some mushy, Wonder Bread platitudes about how great it is that Tim Tebow talks about Jesus and doesn’t get caught doing strippers two at a time in the hot tub. If religion comes into the public square, it is as vulnerable as any other human institution to be pelted with produce. Ignorance does not become wisdom just because you gussy it up with the Gospels. If we keep faith with those American values, then we might just let him off the hook enough to see if he simply can become a better quarterback than Andy Dalton.

Sure, excellent point. I myself would like to write a piece soon critiquing the Theology of Glory that surrounds some Tebow cultists. But the best possible thing I could say about this piece is that it pelted produce, completely missed its target, engaged in bigotry and was far less substantive than the Wonder Bread platitudes being derided. But other than that, it was a pretty good read.

Picture of typical Tebow loather via Shutterstock.

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  • Mark Baddeley

    When Charles Pierce writes an editorial like this and refers to America’s ‘culture war’ as ‘the great national dumbshow’, do you think there is any chance he gets the irony?

    This is a classic example of ‘culture war’, and it’s neither witty, informed, or smart. It’s something to stoke the righteous indignation of the true believers on one side and to justify their antipathy towards those on the other side. It serves no other purpose, and serves no other group than the partisans on one side.

    Dumbshow it is.

  • Jay DiNitto

    One of the other posts on here was about disregarding secular Christmases. Can we disregard the religion of sports, too? Or is it okay for the church to indulge in the crass consumerism of sports and not the crass consumerism of Santa Claus?

  • David Rupert

    I’m from Denver and yes, I hear both sides of this arguement.

    All of this stems from a kid — he’s just 23 — who love His Lord. He plays with enthusiasm and lives life with enthusiasm and a genuine energy.

    I just don’t get the vitrol. And thank goodness the article got pulled, but a 100 others brimming with hatred have not.

    David, What Tim Tebow Taught Me About Leadership

  • R9

    Tim Tebow… does he play hoopball or something? Anyway I take it we’re all supposed to form our usual cultural battle lines on this one.

  • Will

    Er, “dumbshow” means mime. How is this insulting to one and only one side in the conflict?

  • Richard Keefe

    A few facts about the SPLC and “hate groups.”

    1. There is no legal definition for “hate group,” which is why even the FBI does not, can not, track “hate groups.”

    As noted in the article, the SPLC uses the deliberately meaningless smear “hate group” because it allows them to denigrate those with whom it disagrees without having to accuse them of any actual crimes.

    2. According to the SPLC’s 147,000 donor-dollar-a-year public relations guru, Mark Potok:

    …a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality… [or] potential for violence…” Rather, as Potok put it, “It’s all about ideology.”

    No crime, no violence… just “wrong thinking.”

    3. Mr. Potok claims he has identified 1002 “hate groups” in 2010, but he can’t seem to locate 262 of them on his own “Hate Map” fund-raising tool. That’s 26% right off the top.

    Every state on the “Hate Map” has these phantom groups that exist only in Mr. Potok’s mind and serve only to pad out the fund-raising numbers. In many states, the number of homeless “hate group” runs to 60%, 80% and, yes, even 100% of the total!!

    4. This past October, Mr. Potok admitted on camera that his “Hate Map” was “anecdotal,” “a rough estimate” and a “flawed process.” In short, it’s meaningless.

    Fortunately for Mr. Potok, the media has never bothered to vet even one of his spurious claims. They simply regurgitate his numbers on command.

    One final “irony,” (read: “hypocrisy’), the Boy Scouts of America have proclaimed publicly for decades that gay men “lack the moral values” to be Scout Leaders and that “…duty to God… is an obligation!,” and yet you won’t find a single word about the BSA on the SPLC’s web site.

    So when is a “conservative Christian hate group” NOT a “conservative Christian hate group”?

    The answer is simple: Many of the SPLC’s mostly elderly donors were scouts or the parents/grandparents of scouts, and linking the almighty donors to a “hate group” is bad for business.

    “Fighting hate” is all well and good, until it cuts into the bottom line…

  • Julia

    And then there was the SNL skit this past Saturday where Jesus visits the Broncos locker room. Is SNL a hate group?

  • carl jacobs

    This sentence is the key to understanding the animosity against Tim Tebow.

    History says that as soon as you start talking about “the only true message” in this regard, you guarantee that, eventually, people will get slaughtered in the town square.

    Tebow represents revealed religion. The modern world locates the origin of Truth within the individual. Since each individual is a limited finite creature, no individual can presume to establish Truth on his own authority. Truth therefore becomes a matter of human speculation. Truth can only be sought after. It can never actually be attained. The critical implication is that no man can speak with binding authority. The modern mind presumes that there is no authority above man that can reliably establish a knowable truth to which man is always and everywhere accountable. To say otherwise is to commit the heresy of ‘fundamentalism.’

    Then along comes Tebow parading himself into the public square with protestations of exactly that heresy. He declares that there is such an authority. He declares that there is a knowable Truth to which men will be held to account. And the modern world responds by saying “Who the hell are you to tell me how to live?” It enjoys the fact that it has been liberated from all those restrictions on its behavior that previously existed because of broad cultural consensus. It fears the return of that consensus and wants to preempt its possible resurrection. So it demonizes as hate that which it hates. The irony should not be lost.

    Tebow himself is only a cat’s paw for a much wider attack that centers on the allowable answer to the rhetorical question asked of Christ by Pilate – “What is truth?” The Christian has an answer. The modern mind has a different answer. Those answers are wholly incompatible. The modern world would very much prefer that Tebow and his co-religionists be silenced. It would set a pagan standard for participation in the Public Square – that each man acknowledge the legitimacy of every other man’s god. This a Christian can never do, and that is the vortex around which the culture war turns.


  • Jeff the Baptist

    I was going to say something, but I’m utterly flabbergasted by Tebow’s rushing yards in that Tebow/Brady comparison graphic.

  • Jeffrey

    The companion to TDS has to be Hyper Tebow Defensiveness Disease where any crItcism of Tebow is met with allegations of hate and ChristIan persecution. It’s as rampant as the War on Christmas alarmism.

  • Bobby

    Awesome photo! :-)

  • John M

    15 years ago, arguing for a smaller government any more vigorously than the Republican Party establishment got you brandished as a “hate group” by the SPLC. They just tarred you with the “Timothy McVeigh” brush and moved on.


  • R9

    I feel the term hate is overused myself, but I suppose “ridiculous group” or “wrongness group” wouldn’t go down any better.

  • Stan

    Love how Mollie smears and bullies SPLC while claiming that SPLC is bullying Focus on the Family. The bullying that I have seen, sometimes with horrible consequences, has come from Focus and the Family and their fellow travelers who traffic in the hatred of gay people.

  • Jeffrey

    Columnists get to say what they want. Columnist Pierce has one view on SPLC and columnist Hemingway has another. I’m lost what that ideological disagreement has to do with journalism, assuming this GR is still about journalism. I’m beginning to wonder.

  • Ray Ingles

    I can assure y’all that many, many atheists don’t care in the slightest about Tim Tebow or his faith.

  • Jeffrey Weiss

    With all due respect, nobody who uses the locution “pro-life” has the moral standing to object to someone else using “anti-choice.”

    Out here in Putatively Objective Journalism-land, we like to roll it down the middle as much as possible: “Abortion rights supporters” and “abortion rights opponents.” Those are clunky but relatively accurate and don’t use the preferred phrases from either side.

    And I thought that GR tended *not* to focus on columns? But of course, it’s your car and you can drive it where you want…

    (Oh and the spit-storm about Tebow and his faith? Yup. Any number of good examples out there of people going so far over the top that they achieve escape velocity. The example by the rabbi is an utter shanda, as my people would put it… I’d suggest that over-the-top phenomenon is not uncommon about sports figures and *various* themes. But religion has something to do with this one, absolutely…)

  • Mike Hickerson

    I didn’t know much about Bob Tebow or his beliefs, but from perusing his website, it’s hard to classify him as anything other than a mainstream American evangelical. The About Us page name-checks Campus Crusade, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Dallas Theological Seminary, and a couple of Southern Baptist churches and colleges. If Charley Pierces considers Bob Tebow to represent a “splinter of a splinter” of American Christianity, he needs to get out more.

    BTW, I emailed Grantland to suggest a correction to James Dobson’s title. I read regularly, and typos, factual errors, and style problems appear regularly, sometimes corrected and sometimes not. For a blog, that’s no big problem. Grantland, however, has literary aspirations, so the lack of good copy-editing is disappointing. (It took them several months to correct a misquotation in their own masthead.) Their articles often feel like they are rushed online before they are finished. Again, not a problem for a blog, but Grantland was started specifically to give a home to long-form sportswriting.

  • carl jacobs

    Jeffrey Weiss

    Out here in Putatively Objective Journalism-land…

    You can’t miss it. Just turn left at the Molasses Swamp, and follow the trail to Foggy Bottom.

    we like to roll it down the middle as much as possible:

    Well, let’s evaluate that claim, shall we?

    “Abortion rights supporters” and “abortion rights opponents.” Those are clunky but relatively accurate and don’t use the preferred phrases from either side.

    No, but it does frame the issue from the point of view of one particular side. It focuses the argument on the mother and her autonomy instead of the child and his life. Far more subtle and far more effective.


  • Martha

    I was amazed, to put it mildly, by the piece in “Jewish Week” because I was totally unaware that you lot were plagued with rampaging bands of Southern Baptists re-enacting the gorier exploits of the Golden Horde every time a football team won a big game.

    Credit to the “Jewish Week”, the comments on that piece were pretty scathing in their dismissal of the prospect of having to cower in their basements for fear of being forcibly dragged to a pool for a dunking by wild-eyed Evangelicals frothing at the mouth.

    If you really want a poisonous stew of sectarian politics and religion mixed in with sport, may I refer you to the rivalry between Glasgow Rangers and Celtic, and the disheartening news that Celtic Football Club were fined for “inappropriate chants” by a section of their travelling support in a recent game against a French side?

  • The_Archer_of_the_Forest

    I have to admit that I, for the life of me, do not understand the rabid hatred and/or fan worship that Tim Tebow seems to evoke in people. Granted, I don’t follow the NFL all that much other than checking scores on a Monday morning, but good grief…he’s a jock football player.

    Having been one myself in days of yore, I can tell you that ain’t nothing to be that worked up about.

  • Roberto

    Okay, I get that both of these opinion pieces were outrageous and Pierce’s contained a few factual errors but I recall Get Religion being about coverage, not opinion.

    I read Pierce’s piece and thought that his few good points, — e.g., about the vast majority of Filipinos already being Christians, and the way that the in USA, “Christian” and “Evangelical” are often regarded as synonymous — were overshadowed by his vitriol. But Pierce, like most Grantland writers, is expressing an opinion, the sort of thing that like elbows and a sort of bodily orifice, everyone has.

    If Get Religion is adding opinion writing to its brief than you might as well quit your day jobs.

  • Mollie

    1) Both the Jewish Week piece and the Grantland feature include opinions but one is about how the media should treat Tebow’s religion. Which makes it of interest to us here.

    2) Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but we are more than happy to point out errors of fact even if they’re in features or essays as opposed to straight news.

    Jeffrey1 — obviously I have no objection to going after Tebowmania even on religious grounds — since I said I’d like to write a piece doing just that.

    Jeffrey Weiss — I have no objection, per se, to the use of the term “anti-abortion” to describe a group of people who support the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death — even though it completely misses a good portion of their arguments. But there’s no way you’ll convince me that using the term that a group uses to identity itself (e.g. pro-life or pro-choice) is the same as using a term its opponents use (anti-life or anti-choice). I will use, in various forms of writing a variety of terms to describe groups on opposing sides of the abortion or euthanasia debates but I won’t use pejorative terms that go out of their way to deligitimize them.

  • Beate

    Good point Mollie. Further, the commercial in question wasn’t anti-choice, since it only highlighted the positive outcome of the particular choice that was made. Calling it pro-life would make semantic sense.

  • Francis Beckwith

    Charlie writes: “History says that as soon as you start talking about “the only true message” in this regard, you guarantee that, eventually, people will get slaughtered in the town square.”

    Charlie, presumably, believes that his message–his account–of the nature of religious beliefs is in fact the only true account of religious belief. (If he didn’t believe it to be such he would not be offering such harsh and categorical judgments). Thus, on his own grounds, his own view is dangerous to the common good.

    Any view worth its salt is exclusivist at some juncture. Charlie believes that prolifers are anti-choice and those that embrace a normative account of conjugal love are “haters.” He excludes such individuals as legitimate players in civil society. Fair enough. But in that case he should be honest about his views and their entailment and admit that is opponents are wrong for holding false beliefs rather than being wrong because they think they are right. For the latter is the position everyone one is in who believes anything about anything.

  • Jeffrey

    But your critique of Pierce’s opinion piece only points to a single factual error and never really challenges his overall critique, instead just nitpicking over his not being politically correct in how he expresses his opinion.

    If you are going to make an ideological critique, just be honest and admit that this has nothing to do with journalism and instead is a clash of ideologies.

  • Mollie


    If you think I never challenged his overall critique, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing I can say other than that you might want to reread it.

    But somehow I don’t think that will work, either!



  • Karl

    This is the list of organizations that the SPLC labeled as “anti-gay hate groups:”

    (Note: I’m not a Reconstructionist or theonomist)

    Some observations:

    1. It might be problematic to label groups like American Vision “hate groups” because they don’t go out of their way to “bash gays.” The quotations seem to be taken out of context. Joel McDurmon, in the Gary DeMar Show broadcast cited, criticizes Uganda for not also considering making adultery a capital offense.

    2. Reconstructionists are postmillenialists who oppose using a conspiracy to set up a totalitarian government to impose Old Testament law. In fact, they typically argue that criminal cases must be dealt with on a local level. They teach that, when the vast majority of people are truly regenerate Christians, they will want to have Old Testament law.

    3. Many Reconstructionists do not agree with everything Rushdoony said (including the Chalcedon Foundation is a bit questionable since it’s not an advocacy group and only exists to preserve Rushdoony’s work). Some may support Southern-style slavery and Jim Crow, but others (like Gary North) do not. Many theonomists don’t believe that the “incorrigible son” law applies to young children.

    4. D. James Kennedy may have associated with theonomists or praised their work, but that doesn’t mean he agreed with all of it. Theonomists say that Kennedy was not a theonomist. It seems more likely that, since theonomy was a controversial issue in the PCA, Kennedy actually took time to read them and adopted a nuanced position.

    5. Including Reconstructionists sort of “says without saying” that all anti-homosexual political activists (and groups like the FRC) think that homosexual activity should be a capital offense. Reconstructionists make up a small minority of confessional Protestants and conservative Evangelicals. Probably, Doug Wilson is the only popular religious figure who leans in a Reconstructionist direction, and he’s relatively mild.

    Before criticizing people who accept a certain theological position, it’s a good idea to read them and find out what they actually support.

  • Roberto

    Both the Jewish Week piece and the Grantland feature include opinions but one is about how the media should treat Tebow’s religion. Which makes it of interest to us here.

    Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but we are more than happy to point out errors of fact even if they’re in features or essays as opposed to straight news.

    Not to belabor the point but, at least in Pierce’s case, his factual, as opposed to analytical, errors were minor and immaterial to his larger points. They’re the kind of errors — 80 versus 95 percent — that a person overlooks when they agree with the tenor of the article but jumps out when they disagree.

    As to how to treat religion, I agree that this part is worth talking about. Pierce’s take was silly: a person’s religious beliefs aren’t “sacred” in any meaningful sense of the word. Certainly they aren’t sacred if you mean “immune from scrutiny.”

    Likewise, if “nothing is sacred” then talking about people’s families, even if they have nothing to do with the subject’s public life, is okay. I doubt that Pierce really believes this.

    Pierce’s problems lie in his role models: listing Twain with the likes of Mencken and, in matters relating to religion, Hitchens is an injustice to Twain. Mencken was a misanthropic bigot and anti-Semite who heaped abuse on those he didn’t like. He didn’t satirize them or even mock them — he caricatured and abused them. His tools were invective and vitriol, not wit.

    Twain can and did poke a sharp stick at religious hypocrisy and obscurantism but he nev3er crossed the line into invective and vitriol.

    The one part where Pierce acted more like Twain instead of Mencken and Hitchens was in the part about the Philippines. A lot of Catholics do a double-take when they read language like that quoted by Pierce applied to the Catholic countries. (To be fair, the Tebows are from alone in this respect: president McKinley justified annexing the Philippines by saying that the USA would introduce Christianity to the Island chain.)

    An interesting bit of journalism would explore this issue. The Evangelical-Catholic rapprochement was made possible, in part, because the various parties agreed to disagree about the whole “proselytizing versus evangelism” question. (I know this because I had if not a front-row then second-row seat for the deliberations.)

  • Bob Smietana

    Charlie Pierce is Catholic and has written pretty openly about his faith, which is very different than the kind of evangelical Protestantism practiced by the Tebows. He’s taking issue with the idea, common among evangelicals, that Catholics aren’t real Christians.

    He’s also a pretty savvy football writer, and in his book about the Patriots, describes Tom Brady, who is Catholic, as searching the football equivalent of the Communion of Saints in the way he plays.

    One error in the column is that Tebow is a Southern Bapist- not exactly the splinter sect that Pierce describes.

    Americans love to fight about football. And we love to fight about Jesus. Which means the controversy about Tebow won’t be going away anytime soon.

  • carl

    Bob Smietana

    Charlie Pierce is Catholic and has written pretty openly about his faith, which is very different than the kind of evangelical Protestantism

    No doubt. Reading the article makes me wonder whether his Catholic faith is also very different than the kind of Catholic faith defined by the Magisterium. There is more to this article than the fundamental Protestant/Catholic divide rooted in the Reformation. Much more. (cough) anti-choice … anti-gay-rights … anti-Enlightenment thought … retrograde social policies … religious bigotry (cough).


  • Nancy Reyes

    Someone doesn’t know much about the Philippines either LINK which is only 80 percent Catholic.

    As a Catholic, could I point out that the Protestants tend to teach a strict morality (while trying to get rid of the more superstitious part of Filipino Catholicism). This “protestantism” is mainly of the middle class, since they teach honesty and hard work as virtues, and is part of the culture changes from feudal to modern, at least here in the provinces.

  • http://!)! Passing By

    Regarding titles, Focus on the Family was founded by Doctor James Dobson.

    I suspect this was the article Bob Smetiana was aiming at (link didn’t work for me). Here’s a key passage:

    Which brings me to the most fundamental rule of my Catholicism – nobody gets to tell me that I’m not a Catholic.

    Those of my fellow Catholics who remain loyal to the institutional structure of the Church don’t get to do so. People who talk glibly of “cafeteria Catholicism” don’t get to do so. People who seek to coin Catholic doctrine into political advantage – be they left or right – don’t get to do so. No priest gets to do so, and no bishop, either, and that especially means the bishop of Rome himself. No pope can tell me I’m not a Catholic.

    So… what carl (#31) said.

  • Bob Smietana

    Yep- that is the one

  • Mollie

    Bob, for some reason I didn’t realize that was the same Pierce! TMatt’s thoughts on the Globe running that essay. And Douglas LeBlanc’s look at Pierce’s ID piece from years ago here.

  • carl jacobs

    So having read his piece, I understand why Charlie Pierce demands the right to self-identify as a Roman Catholic. How else could he possibly receive the title? This is yet one more assertion of the primacy of the human will over boundaries and barriers; one more declaration that there are no fixed limits that cannot be superceded by force of human will. Autonomy Über Alles.

    In essence, he wants the history without the dogma. He wants the continuity without the submission. He wants the form without the substance. He wants the Mass without the Gravity. It’s just just one more version of Catholic Lite.


  • Mark Baddeley

    I think Charles Pierce’s stance towards Tebow in his editorial on how journalism should discuss Tebow’s religion is also explained by that article on his ‘Catholicism’.

    Tebow isn’t just Protestant and Evangelical when Pierce is Catholic, Tebow also stands for almost everything in the Christian tradition that Pierce rejects in the name of his personal Catholicism. Pierce rejects the idea of a personal relationship with God but claims a personal church. He claims a label (Catholic) that no-one may deny him (even God, one suspects). He is a Catholic who has grounded everything on the right of personal conscience – whereas Tebow seeks to have his conscience captured by Scripture.

    Forget his sneers about Tebow not being caught with two strippers, this is just a classic example of a theologically liberal Christian being offended by a Christian of more classical belief and practice.

    What makes it interesting journalistically, is that he’s then gone and (really badly) thematized that as the way in which journalism as a whole should handle Tebow’s faith.

    Seriously, you couldn’t get more culture warish. I’m finding it hard to imagine what the equivalent would be for the other side without it descending into just an absurd parody of Pierce’s essay.

    This is a strongly worded plea for European style journalism self-consciously acting as foot soldiers on behalf of Pierce’s take on the legacy of the Enlightenment.