Is “Tebowing” an attack on Christianity?

posted at 7:00 pm on December 4, 2011 by Howard Portnoy

The question that forms the title of this post has been getting a good bit of play in conservative circles of late. It was hinted at in a segment of FOX and Friends on Friday that featured NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton. And it is the main focus of a column by National Review Online news editor Daniel Foster that appeared on Saturday.

“Tebowing,” should the term be unfamiliar, takes its name from another quarterback, current Denver Broncos play caller Tim Tebow. More specifically, the term designates the now-viral mockery of his habit of kneeling down and bowing his head after a touchdown to commune with his God.

As Foster writes with more than a hint of indignation, Tebowing his become an Internet phenomenon, with its own website, a Twitter account, and most recently a YouTube video titled “Tebowing for Dummies.” At such sites, Foster continues:

[Y]ou can see an act of communion with one’s creator rendered as a bit of pop-cultural ephemera, [complete with] pictures of folks striking the pose everywhere from Oxford to Istanbul, with that muddle of irony and enthusiasm that has become my generation’s trademark.

Foster’s obvious pique at these send-ups derives in part from the fact of Tebow’s wholesomeness (he is in Foster’s words “squeaky clean, in a sport that notoriously is not”). Wherein, Foster insists, lies the origins of Tebowing. It is, in short, “the power of Tebow’s evangelical-Christian faith, and the earnestness with which he professes it [that] seems to annoy so many people.”

I’m going to have toss out my red challenge flag here. Foster may be right that for some people, the problem isn’t Tebow’s religiosity but the fact that professional sports are “so filled with clichéd Jesus praise that” fans doubt his sincerity. But I submit that for many who prefer to spend their Sundays watching the exquisite choreography of a perfectly executed screen pass, the problem is Tebow’s self-absorption.

Tebow is free to give “mad respect” to his lord, but I’d rather he do it on his own time. A number of players cross themselves on every play, but they do it discreetly — and expeditiously. Tebow’s prayer timeouts, by contrast, are as gratuitously in-your-face as the most flagrant end zone dance. And they last as long. Yet, according to his supporters, all of footballdom is supposed to give him a pass because his purpose is holy. Isn’t that what churches are for?

Another, subtler, ingredient in the widespread antipathy toward Tebow is that he is an anomaly. His success as an NFL quarterback (he is 4 and 1 since replacing Kyle Orton at the helm of the Broncos offense) doesn’t make sense to diehard football fans. His passing numbers — he has a 45% completion rate — are awful. His team is winning through a combination of razzle-dazzle and offensive schemes that haven’t been used by college, let alone NFL, coaches in two decades.

I am predicting that “this too shall pass” (to cite a proverb that Tebow should appreciate because of its religious roots). Sooner or later all 31 remaining teams in the league will develop defensive strategies to counter Denver’s pre-Knute Rockne offense, and Tebow — and Tebowing — will be gone.

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I’ve said before -I take issue with belief itslef. The thread subject was Tim Tebow. He’s a Christian. I began by saying essentially that Jesus – assuming he exists as the son of God, of course – doesn’t care about Tebow’s football playing, and if he does, his priorities are out of order.

You didn’t essentially say anything of the kind. You started your involement on the thread with this taunt.

Jesus loves and cares about Tebow’s Denver Broncos. All those Christian football players on other teams can suck it.

Meanwhile, in North Korea…

Good Lt on December 4, 2011 at 9:09 PM

hawkdriver on December 6, 2011 at 7:36 PM

GL, you started this. I pointed that out yesterday and you conceded as much. On any thread you get involved with, with Christians, your own behavior is no better than the trolls. And nothing you’re doing here has any honor to it.

When you treat one Christian to the words you offer here, you’re saying it about all of us. You would intestinally deliver earthen building blocks if anyone spoke about gays like you’re speaking about Christians. Do you think we’re all worthy of the condemnations you keeps posting here?

hawkdriver on December 6, 2011 at 7:32 PM

And when you read any thread where atheists are a featured topic, the Christians rush in and dump on them. And that’s not “because of Good Lt.’s comments on one of those religion threads.”

That’s been the norm for years. It’s no big deal – we give what we get.

This griping about tone is a bit beneath you, hd. Many of you give as good as you get, and there are far more of you than us. You’re not an aggrieved minority.

Nothing personal.

Good Lt on December 6, 2011 at 7:41 PM

Jesus loves and cares about Tebow’s Denver Broncos. All those Christian football players on other teams can suck it.

Meanwhile, in North Korea…

Good Lt on December 4, 2011 at 9:09 PM


That was a comment on the silliness of thinking he or God cares about what happens to the Broncos, Tebow or the NFL, and how there are other things God, Jesus or whatever should probably be concerned about if they in fact exist at all.

You’re just taking issue with the manner in which the point was made.

Good Lt on December 6, 2011 at 7:44 PM

I would point out that it is the qualifier at the end that is not only unnecessary, but ultimately misleading. I would state it as thus: For anything to exist, there cannot be a time when nothing existed.

VekTor on December 6, 2011 at 7:00 PM

I’ve wondered about this for quite some time, that is, the logic of it all or lack thereof. If there was nothing at one time, and the Creator created something out of nothing, that is not possible because the Creator Himself had to exist previously…so is the Creator part of “nothingness”? If so, then what does “nothing” really mean? Sounds rather along the lines of the ‘dark matter’ argument which infers to me that there really isn’t any such thing as nothing and is (maybe like the idea of infinity itself) a manmade idea.

Be that as it may, if there is a Creator then the question still remains (that only the pompous would claim to know) is why He created the universe?

The idea of multiverses and thus the possibility of multiple Creators is certainly out of question for most adhering to Christianity. But, in the larger context religious beliefs ultimately come down to a combination of what makes one feel good about themselves, or better yet, superior to nonbelievers. The need for religious belief and the trappings that go along with it certainly existed way back into prehistory.

For most religion is part of our ego identity along with our names, nationalities, genders, social status, and so on. Of course, a healthy dose of guilt and the self-flagellation that goes along with that is also present, among some sects more than others.

Religious beliefs also seem to rarely evolve. Once set, most are loathe to change those beliefs…in fact, their egos demand that they change others to their point of view-by the sword if necessary. Some atheists act the same way; a non-religion with religious overtones.

I don’t think true Christians nor true Humanist-atheists would engage in some of the viciousness we see here and elsewhere.

Hypocrisy is truly a universal constant.

Dr. ZhivBlago on December 6, 2011 at 7:45 PM

Again, attempting to characterize me as a troll is a losing proposition for you – just like all your other arguments on this thread.

blink on December 6, 2011 at 7:46 PM

I’m not paying the rent to live in your head, bro. I was here first. Sorry.

Good Lt on December 6, 2011 at 7:48 PM

This griping about tone is a bit beneath you, hd.

Defending my faith is griping now? You, GL, now get to decide who and how they may contest something like you’re doing. I read your many exchanges here and just wonder that you can say any of my words are beneath anything.

Many of you give as good as you get, and there are far more of you than us. You’re not an aggrieved minority.

You lump us all together. Glad to know it’s okay now to launch invectives against whole groups based on your opinion that some offer words that are over the top. Wow, people want to defend their faith.

Nothing personal.

Good Lt on December 6, 2011 at 7:41 PM

hawkdriver on December 6, 2011 at 7:49 PM

Nothing personal.

Good Lt on December 6, 2011 at 7:41 PM

hawkdriver on December 6, 2011 at 7:49 PM

BS. You couldn’t make it any more personal.

hawkdriver on December 6, 2011 at 7:50 PM

You’re just taking issue with the manner in which the point was made.

Good Lt on December 6, 2011 at 7:44 PM

Exactly what? That you grossing mischaracterized your comment and the overall tener of the way you treat Christians.

Admit it. You do this because you feel like it’s your way of punishing Christians for your perception of how they act. A little payback?

hawkdriver on December 6, 2011 at 8:01 PM

you “glossly” mischaracterized …

hawkdriver on December 6, 2011 at 8:03 PM


hawkdriver on December 6, 2011 at 8:06 PM

Typing is hard, hawkdriver. Walk it off. Rub some dirt on it. ;)

VekTor on December 6, 2011 at 8:07 PM

VekTor on December 6, 2011 at 8:07 PM

I’ve got clay on my hands too.

hawkdriver on December 6, 2011 at 8:09 PM

Ok then. Rub less dirt on it. =)

VekTor on December 6, 2011 at 8:13 PM

Why do you hate the people God murdered in the flood?

Good Lt on December 6, 2011 at 6:35 PM

Don’t hate them. Don’t know them. Can’t even be 100% sure they existed.

Now, will you admit yet that God can’t actually “murder” anybody, or are you going to continue twisting the knife into the poor English language?

Good Solid B-Plus on December 6, 2011 at 9:48 PM

. . .I’ve wondered about this for quite some time, that is, the logic of it all or lack thereof. If there was nothing at one time, and the Creator created something out of nothing, that is not possible because the Creator Himself had to exist previously…so is the Creator part of “nothingness”? If so, then what does “nothing” really mean? . . .

Dr. ZhivBlago on December 6, 2011 at 7:45 PM

The idea of an eternal God, before creation and after the end of the world is hard for us to wrap our minds around.

God wasn’t part of the “nothingness” in the sense that He was nothing. He is infinite and perfect love,always was and always will be.

The nothingness before Creation is about matter, time and space.

God created matter, time and space from no matter, no time and no space. God created time and space for us. He lives outside of time and space. A thousand years is like a second to Him. Actually, not even that. God lives in the past, present and future all at the same time, because He doesn’t live in time.

However, God physically entered our time and space when He became man, Jesus Christ. At a point in time of His choosing, in the fullness of time.

And he created us, forgave us and saved us all because He loves us. And loves us enough not to want us to be His robots, but to have free will and love Him from our own choosing, by accepting his Grace. But we are also free to reject His grace. That we do, is not His fault. He is still perfect love.

Elisa on December 6, 2011 at 11:51 PM

Elisa on December 6, 2011 at 11:51 PM

I just want to be clear that what I said is what I believe, but it is not simply my opinion. It is what the Holy Spirit has revealed through His Church for centuries. So it is from the Word of God. This is my faith; I understand that others have different faiths. But I do not claim to have figured this all out on my own. I believe what I believe is God’s revelation.

Elisa on December 6, 2011 at 11:55 PM


You couldn’t have written a more blatantly misinformed post. The stats you pasted are accurate, the non-use of the read-option in decades is not. It is a rather effective base offense in college football (e.g. Tim Tebow and Vince Young) and has been used by various NFL teams as a change-of-pace wrinkle (e.g. the “Wildcat”).

As far as the self-absorbed-celebratory nature of “Tebowing,” it doesn’t happen in the end-zone, but on the sideline before the offense hits the field and after the game, regardless of outcome (often with players from both teams joining). I’m a lifelong Broncos fan and radically-opposed Tebow as our QB. But, week after week, I’ve watched the kid improve and come to embrace how “razzle-dazzle” exhausts opposing defenses, while keeping ours well rested. I’ve also watched the Broncos return to being the most dominant ground game in the league (on paper and film). It’s helpful to see more than 4th quarter highlights and expert analysis.

The truth about “Tebowing” in pop-culture is simple: Some people do it out of mockery, others do it in support of Tebow, himself, and some do it for the defiant display of Christianity in an era full of holiday trees.

JCred on December 7, 2011 at 12:20 AM

Elisa on December 6, 2011 at 11:55 PM

Nicely put.

Yes, the Bible is fairly clear that time and 3-dimensionality are created whereas God the Father and God the Word are not. It’s hard for someone who exists in 3 or 4 dimensions to think outside of dimensionality, but God is self-existent.

What bothers me is that HotAir would condone and print an article which basically ridicules Tebow for his open display of faith and adds that he’ll fail soon enough.

Any writer who thinks ‘this too shall pass’ is a Christian matter clearly has a knowledge of Christianity comparable to Nancy Pelosi or anyone on MSNBC.

At least Allapundit, a self-described atheist, was always respectful of Christians.

Perhaps HotAir is moving to the center in the same way they suggest that FNC is. I can see it happening now. I doubt this article would have appeared under Michelle.

I’m afraid I’ll have to find a new real-time conservative news site.

flicker on December 7, 2011 at 1:30 AM

Whatever happened to “pray to thy God in secret?” In the words of the late George Carlin “You never hear them say, “Jesus made me drop the ball” or, “The Lord tripped me up behind the line of scrimmage.”

I think Tebowing is not an insult to Christianity, but rather, mocking people who wear their faith on their sleeve — something the Bible seemed pretty clear about.

bomble on December 7, 2011 at 9:59 AM

I don’t understand why people hate this kid so much. He’s not out forcing starved dogs to fight, shooting himself in a night club, raping women, juicing, doing drugs, or cheating.

Surely one of you atheists can look past your hatred for religion and respect a high profile athlete that is behaving himself. If you can’t, well, you’re a sad individual.

doctordarpa on December 7, 2011 at 12:38 PM


You beat me to it. I think he threatens the pc crowd when he shows that you can live a good life and not be a promiscuous, ill behaved, boorish individual.

expatNI on December 7, 2011 at 3:18 PM

I’m a newcomer on Hot Air, just got registered today. I’ve read Hot Air for years.

This thread in particular drove me nuts. Some people were playing obtuse deliberately, it appeared. I wanted to jump in and post but could not until today.

To answer the original poster (“Is Tebowing an attack on Christianity?”): I think it depends on the motivation of the one doing the “Tebowing.”

Perhaps some of them are doing it to mock Tebow or his faith, but maybe some of them are doing it in solidarity with the guy. One cannot really say unless one knows the motives.

We don’t know what’s in Tebow’s heart, or what his motives are, except based on what he’s said in interviews.

The Bible indicates that God does not only judge actions, He judges motive as well.

I’ve seen several commentators here take Bible verses out of context – the verses that talk about not praying in public are in the context of someone who is doing so purely from a motive of pride.

Such verses are not condemning outward shows of piety and devotion to God in and of themselves.

In other situations, God says in the Bible He does not want believers to hide their faith, even under threat or possibility of death, jailing, or beatings.

In the New Testament, Christ tells His followers if they deny Him before men, He will deny them before His Father.

See also Matthew 5:13, Mark 9:50, and Matthew 5:16.

So quite obviously, God is not opposed to believers acting out their faith in the public arena.

Someone farther up the thread said that Hell was made for man, but the Bible seems to say that that Hell was originally intended for the fallen angels, not for humanity (Matthew 25:41).

If atheists are capable of acting moral despite not believing in God, it is probably due in part to the fact that God endows all humanity with consciences, but some choose to ignore their consciences, and the Bible says some people are so deeply hardened that their consciences are “seared.” (1 Timothy 4:2)

Just because the Bible describes an action or behavior, or mentions that ‘thus- and- so’ a Bible character did something (such as commit murder or adultery), or when the Bible mentions that God dictated behavior limits upon an already established social custom, does not mean God necessarily likes it or condones it – slavery being one huge example. Polygamy being another.

I think all the believers in the thread were saying was not that atheists cannot act morally (obviously some do), but that they have no ultimate, unchanging justification for why they do so.

Also, the guy back several pages who was saying something about God being allowed to destroy the entire planet if He wanted to do so… I think his main point was that God is sovereign (see for example, Romans Chapter 9).

I also saw a lot of silly discourse (I can’t bring myself to even call it argumentation).

It was sad to see the thread devolve into both believers and non-believers essentially saying to each other, “Neener neener, you’re an idiot,” “I know you are but what am I,” “I won the debate you big dummy!,” and “No I won it, you jerk.”

TigerPaw on December 7, 2011 at 10:44 PM

Another point I wanted to mention.

Several people said God could not care less about Tebow winning or losing a football game.

First of all, a lot of people seem to be assuming that Tebow prays for this point specifically, or that when he does his sideline prayer, that is what he’s praying about (praying for victory), but we don’t know this.

A few other people jumped in to clarify (since they’ve read interviews with the guy), that Tebow claims when he does his prayer gesture, he is merely thanking God for giving him the opportunity to play the game, and that kind of thing.

There are more important things in life than football, I would agree with that, but one thing I know about God is that He cares about each of His followers deeply, and if something is of concern to us, it becomes a concern for God too.

It always bothers me when people assume God is only concerned about stuff we consider “big,” such as famine and war.

No issue is too trivial or small to bring to God in prayer.

One example from Scripture is 2 Kings 6:7.

See also Matthew 10: 29-31 (Christ speaking):

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

TigerPaw on December 7, 2011 at 11:00 PM

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