If Tim Tebow Were a Muslim

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

With another stunning come from behind victory against the Bears last Sunday, the Tim Tebow train keeps rolling. The Denver Broncos’ quarterback has become a cultural phenomenon. But his on-field exploits only make up one part of the Tebow mystique. Tebow’s public displays of faith play a major role in the star athlete’s public persona and the narrative surrounding him.

Tebow is a Christian and has been an icon of the evangelical community since his college days at the University of Florida. However, his public faith draws a wide range of emotional response. But what if Tim Tebow — a conservative Christian — were instead, a staunchly conservative Muslim? What would America make of him?

Takeaway sports contributor Ibrahim Abdul-Matin talks more about the Tebow paradox.

Comments [25]

Ibrahim from Brooklyn NY

This is in response to g1973, the Fox story did not actually talk about the issues, it only furthered the narrative that Christianity is under attack.

Dec. 23 2011 09:09 AM

Gee...I love all of these so called "reporters" coming out with this great idea of "what if Tim Tebow was muslim" this past week. Jen Engle beat you to it by about 2 weeks - but she's just a girl - so heaven forbid you give her credit for having the brains to come up with it before you did.


Dec. 19 2011 02:25 PM

how about if tebow were mexican-american,and played for a team called the ny jets.would he be mindlessly booed as he ran onto the field. let's take a hypothetical cross between tim tebow and mark sanchez......a devout christian,with a spanish surname, and a less pale complexion...... would the media and public, embrace him the same way? i don't think so. in fact, i know they would not.

Dec. 18 2011 08:29 AM

Same cringe factor would exist if Tebow gave "Thanks" while speaking in "Tongues" as if a "Muslim" does it speaking in "Arabic".

Of course can I ask if there are any majority Muslim nations where an athlete would feel safe publicly proclaiming a faith in anything that was not "islam"?

Dec. 16 2011 10:31 AM
Alan Nakamura from Denver, CO

I think Tim Tebow should be able to manifest his belief in God in whatever fashion that works for him. Who are we to say how someone practices their religion?

Accept people for who they are. Diversity is what makes the USA such a great place; don't profile or denigrate someone because of their beliefs.

C'mon, you guys... you can do better than this! I'm sure there are more pressing and interesting issues you folks can report on!

Dec. 16 2011 01:12 AM
Kathryn Rose from Where you are, America

If he were a Muslim, the advertisers sponsoring his games might pull their ads, just like LOWES did with TLCs "All American Muslim" show. Did any of you hear about that? Defending an American value of religious tolerance is indeed patriotic.

Dec. 15 2011 02:54 PM

"If Tim Tebow were a conservative Muslim..."

If Tim Tebow were actually a conservative Muslim, he might favor Shariya law, the subjugation of women, a ban on Western art and cluture, and he'd likely be on the side of the destruction of Israel, although that is hardly a religious issue.

That's what "conservative" Muslims would likely think.

Naturally, the prejudice on public radio is that Muslims need protection in American society from Christian conservatives. And that is why programs like The Takeaway spend the better part of a week on stories like the Lowe's sponsorship story.

If Tim Tebow were a Muslim, we can be assured that left-leaning American media would go out of its way, to protect him and praise him. Since Tebow is a Christian and politically conservative, he is under greater, not lesser, media scrutiny.

And at the heart of the matter, Tim Tebow is popular because he is winning games. He was popular in college because he won games. He would not be popular if he did not win games. And he is a phenomenon because he is winning games in the NFL when many NFL pundits thought that he had been overrated in college and that he was a waste of a draft pick. And moreover, the thinking was that Tebow was overrated precisely because of his Christian/All-American persona.

Being a Christian hasn't done Tebow any favors on the football field certainly and it hasn't done him any favors in the media.

Tebow really would be in a protected class (much like the television program "All-American Muslim") if he had been a Muslim. As a Christian, he is subject to a unique level of scrutiny from a mostly secular and left-leaning media; he'd be less scrutinized if he were an agnostic, and he'd be actively protected if he were a Muslim.

Dec. 15 2011 11:09 AM
Ann Lindsey from Boston

Would the dialogue change if Mr. Tebow was a Mormon?

Dec. 15 2011 09:21 AM
Suzanne Somers from Salt Lake City, UT

Time to revive Bobby Bare's song "Drop kick me Jesus through the goalposts of life" .

Dec. 15 2011 09:12 AM
Maria D from Morris County, NJ

If Tebow were Muslim he would still be interesting but it would be coupled with fear.

Dec. 15 2011 08:52 AM
Mike from Seattle

To those who point to athletes such as Cassius Clay or Lew Alcindor, I have two words: September Eleventh.

Before Cassius Clay & Lew Alcindor become Muhammad Ali or Kareem Abdul Jabbar they were VERY accomplished athletes. After they changed their names, their accomplishments and abilities remained. Since their respective sports - boxing and basketball are more about winning than about preferences that they and ANY american are endowed with within the bill of rights, their being muslim probably would've followed them into and past September 11th without much fanfare as long as the owners and fans remained mindful of the simple fact that their being muslim or any other legal preference was secondary to the skills they brought to the sport.

Which in no way should preclude them from being muslim anymore than Tebow is precluded from being evangelical.

It's not something we're always good at or mindful of, but, it's something we should continually be reminded of. We tend to forget.

Remember, "We are not at war with Islam."
"President Bush" the President who took us into war with Afghanistan and Iraq after "September 11th".

Dec. 15 2011 08:32 AM
Jamie from Blue Ridge, Georgia

If he wants to pray in public that is his choice and his right. May I offer a verse from the Bible.
Matthew 6.6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Why so many want to make a public spectacle of their faith has always puzzled me.

Dec. 15 2011 08:23 AM
Astrid afKlinteberg from Gloucester, MA

If Tebow were Muslim (and as open about his religion) he wouldn't have even be in the NFL. To those who point to athletes such as Cassius Clay or Lew Alcindor, I have two words: September Eleventh.

Dec. 15 2011 07:05 AM

I can not believe you guys asked this question! Are you serious? "Thank God" Ibrahim Abdul-Matin didn't fall for this foolishness. I look forward to hearing more from him. I loved his comment about folk feeling gulity for not practicing....I'm one of those people.

Dec. 15 2011 12:32 AM
Mike from Seattle

I don't watch football. Don't care who wins.

If Tebow wasn't winning, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't much matter if he prayed to God, Buddha, Mohammed, or any other deity.

When I hire a plumber, if they fix my problem, doesn't matter what faith or creed. If they don't, doesn't matter either.

I would imagine most people watch football because they like the game. Even more watch if their team is winning or looks like they're playoffs / superbowl bound.

On the very rare occasions that I have watched, I've never once asked myself of the religion of the person on the field, court, diamond. Neither have I been dissuaded or influenced otherwise from knowing their faith.

I know, if he starts losing more games than he's winning for all the interest in his faith, there won't be much left of his football career.

Dec. 14 2011 04:27 PM
Lou McElroy from Golden, Colorado

You can follow this link to a story concerning former Denver Nuggets player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf. Tebow is not the first pro athlete to cause a stir in Denver, and probably won't be the last.


Dec. 14 2011 01:05 PM
Jeremy from Presently...Washington DC

Unlike the some of the other comments to this conversation, I think the original question is neither silly or cheesy. The reality is that Tim Tebow's faith on display is creating significant waves and whether or not the effects would be the same if his beliefs were different is a very good question...simply because there is no easy answer. There is much to discuss...for instance is the question really about the content of his faith (what he believes) or is it about the public display of faith in general regardless of the content. At the heart of this question and others like it are principles that are substantially relevant in all societies. The only trivial component to this conversation, as even Tim Tebow has commented, is the context of sports (football in this case) for him it is a merely means to an end. I agree with Ibrahim, it is refreshing to see a public persona characterized primarily by humility...which I believe is true success.

Dec. 14 2011 11:11 AM
Mike from Seattle

"The Denver Broncos’ quarterback has become a cultural phenomenon."


Dec. 14 2011 11:09 AM
Richard from NY, NY

I called in with this comment, but it was not aired. Ms. Headlee, in what I consider to be an inappropriate and flip manner, used the term "Jewish guilt," in a response to Ibrahim Abdul Matin's statement that perhaps some Christians criticize Tebow because they "feel guilty" that they are less vocal about their faith. Jewishness had nothing to do with the story, and I caution Ms. Headlee to be more measured and conscious, and less flip with her comments, which I find to be her general style.

Dec. 14 2011 10:51 AM

The popularity and hero worship of Muhammad Ali and his relationship with the Nation of Islam makes this whole discussion ridiculous.
Clearly the only ones cringing and intolerant are progressives who hypocritically celebrate Ali as an icon.
If it is freedom of speech to illegally "occupy" and disrupt part of a city then it is freedom of speech to express a religious viewpoint.

Dec. 14 2011 10:48 AM
Woosh from D.C.

Once again the absurdity of attributing ones athletic or any other success to ones imagined personal deity is held harmless from scrutiny.

Ms. Headlee, why have you suspended reason and logic during this discussion, or do you actual believe it likely that an imagined personal or universal deity intervene as presumed and claimed ?!?

Dec. 14 2011 10:34 AM

Why even posit this? The assumption by you here is that Americans would be intolerant if he were a conservative practicing Muslim. How do you know this? This is absurb. Please direct your assumptions of intolerance to the Muslim world where it is abundantly evident. It's easy to pick on Americans (generous and tolerant) and Christians (lambs). Isn't it? Not so easy to do the same with Muslims. I wonder why?
It's amazing now that the media wants to portray Muslims in this country as a "hip" and discriminated against people.

Dec. 14 2011 10:11 AM
James H. McCann from Central Massachusetts

The story was infotainment of the cheesiest sort and as [so - called] professionals you ought to be embarrassed by it. Who even cares about any possible answer to your Mohammedan vs Christianist half - smart inquiry?, And if they do, where do they belong in our body politic? I'd now have more respect for you if you'd asked, say, what if the fellow studied videotape of Tom Brady?

Talking about religion is a lot like talking about sex.Some people find such conversation much enjoyable and others don't ---the truth remains that talking about sex is a profoundly different experience than sex. The same is true about the honest practice of religion
Look in the mirror, would you?

Dec. 14 2011 10:08 AM
Frederick Moehn from NYC

I'm sorry, but that was a silly discussion: the question of whether or not a vocal Muslim quarterback would be embraced in the US is a rhetorical non-starter. Of course not, at least not in any facile way. (After initial controversy, however, it might be possible, especially as a kind of political statement, but certainly a different kind from that of an Evangelical.)
More important in this discussion, however, is the implication that Jesus is responsible for (or somehow pleased with) Tebow's performance (and, by extension, that non-believers can expect not to have as blessed a career). This issue wasn't raised. I find it offensive that athletes thank God or Jesus for success in sports -- what a trivialization of religion. This is quite common in soccer too, as if the "hand of God" was behind every goal.

Dec. 14 2011 09:41 AM
Will Walton from Miami Beach, Fl

Christian bashing, including Muslim bashing, does our country no good.
Your focus on this rigged sport seems like your team can't focus on issues that hit ALL Americans. Try obesity for longer than two minutes for starters!

Dec. 14 2011 09:28 AM

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