For a country that was founded based on the principle of religious freedom, religion seems to be under fire or at the very least in question these days. From the concern over football player Tim Tebow, presidential candidates Romney, Huntsman, Santorum and Gingrich, media/political classifications of the religious right as evangelicals and the recent controversies over nativity scenes around the country, it would appear that our nation’s opinion of religion has moved from a nation of believers to one of skeptics.
Tebow is the second year professional quarterback for the Denver Broncos. A Heisman Trophy winner, Tebow was highly criticized for his lack of professional skills, but when given the chance to play this year he remarkably helped his team into the NFL playoffs with a series of last minute heroics. Last week his team beat the heavily favored Pittsburgh Steelers in an overtime game in the first round of the playoffs. Tebow is very vocal about his beliefs and frequently drops to one knee to give thanks to God. His outward visible expression has been copied by many and the pose has been termed “Tebowing.” The media has focused heavily on his strong show of faith and the credit he gives God as part of his success.
Recently, NBA Hall of Fame player and current commentator Charles Barkley termed Tebowmania as a “national disaster.” The Broncos were crushed last week by the New England Patriots, bringing an end to Tebow’s season and removing him from the national spotlight, at least for now.
In the case of presidential candidates Romney and Huntsman, questions about their religious beliefs center more around an overall lack of understanding of the Mormon faith. While Romney and Huntsman attempt to better define their religious beliefs, Gingrich has had to explain his conversion to Catholicism after marrying his third wife. The Catholic Church has taken a very strong stance against divorce, but since Gingrich wasn’t previously married in the church, it doesn’t recognize those marriages. Santorum, also a Catholic, has aligned his faith beliefs with his public life and political positions. Last week a group of Evangelical leaders met in Texas to throw their support behind the conservative Santorum.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org