THE TEBOW PHENOMENON: WHEN DID RELIGIOUS EXPRESSSION BECOME ‘SECOND-CLASS’ SPEECH?

The Shad loves the Tim Tebow story. Not only because he is succeeding despite every football expert and analyst saying he can’t, but because his “Tebowing” (kneeling on one knee in prayer) and postgame interviews upset many who don’t want his faith “thrown in their faces.”

There are some things that need explaining by those who don’t like the Denver Broncos quarterback who in addition to Tebowing, starts every interview by thanking “my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ…”

1. If he started every interview with thanking his coach, would anyone care?
2. If you don’t like Tebow’s interviews, why do you continue to watch them?
3. How exactly does Tebow’s comments offend you?
All of this leads to the bigger question: When did religious expression become second-class speech? Everyone seems to be ok with freedom of speech except when the speech is of a religious nature. The Constitution also contains the Free Exercise Clause—“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” (Shad emphasis). Tebow is simply exercising his free speech and free exercise rights. And for that, people criticize.

It’s quite compelling in that by all appearances, Tebow walks the walk. His was born the Philippines in Baptist missionaries (so don’t worry haters, he can’t become president). There are no doubt many, many people—journalists and general muckrakers—are hard at work trying to get something on Tebow. So far, all they can find is that Tebow might be dating champion skier Lindsay Vonn (Tebow says he is still a virgin and will be until marriage). Personally, I don’t think that’s unusual at all. Have you seen Lindsay Vonn?

The best part of the Tim Tebow story is that when the religion-haters attack, Tebow responds with matter-of-fact, “They have a right to their opinion” comments; just what the haters don’t want.

I hope Tebow wins every games from here on out. Well, except for this Sunday when he plays the Patriots.