Disclaimer: For those of you reading my blog for the first time who are interested in Tebow, Catholicism, the Protestant Church or Christianity in general, please be advised that my opinions are (just that) – mine. Know I am Catholic, though not devout. Know that I use foul language on occasion (and that occasion might occur within the lines of this blog). But, mostly – know that I am human and as such I am very curious and always seeking to learn more about the topic at hand.
Today’s topic at hand – Tebow vs. The Catholic Church
Now, for those of you who follow the Tao of Tim – don’t get your blood pressure up. I am not chastising the young man for dropping to a knee and giving thanks. I am not trying to trivialize a young man of faith. What I AM trying to do is look past this new phenomenon of “Tebowing” to understand the doctrine in which he was raised and to understand whether his father’s supposed dislike of Catholics spills over to his offspring.
Recently I removed a picture from my Facebook page that turned into a bit of a controversy. It was of Tim, on a knee and the caption read something along the lines of thank you for trivializing real needs by praying for touchdowns. The response was quick and loud. It was explained to me that I was in the wrong for putting that up because all this young man was doing was showing his faith, being a role model to younger generations. I heard of his many good deeds both here and abroad. (Of course there were actual football fans, not religious readers who chimed in with their love-hate of the young man). It was polarizing – it was loud – it was interesting. But, because it was getting heated, I removed the picture from my page. The last thing I wanted was a feud among friends (most of which have never met in person). Later that evening I was on the phone with my friend Dan when he informed me that Tebow’s ministries abroad were focused on “my people”. You know, the Catholics. That his father’s ministries were in the Philippines where the VAST majority of the population is Catholic.
So I have been reading up on the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association. The mission is located in the Philippines which is a country in Southeast Asia located in the western Pacific Ocean. Their population tallies close to 94 million and (according to Wikipedia) is the 12th most populous country in the world. Depending on where you pull your numbers, 25% of the population falls below what is considered the poverty level. Another amazing statistic is as of 2005, it is the third largest “Catholic” nation in the world. (Note: For the purposes of this blog – and in the vast majority of conversations that go on around the world – Christianity is the grouping of all Christ-followed religions. Protestant and Catholic churches are parts of Christianity as a whole). In researching the demographics of the Philippines, you will find that 92.4% of their population are Christian. But, more specifically 80.9% of their population are Catholic. Interesting. With a country that is so amazingly Christian, why would one need to go into the masses and profess their faith in a hope of showing the heathens the one true path? That’s just it – Bob Tebow does not see Catholicism as a viable religion. With the statistics being what they are (even if you bend them a few percentage points in either direction) – it is still a Catholic nation that worships Christ at some form of an alter.
On Bob Tebow’s website for BTEA, he stated this:
“The Philippines, a country comprised of over 7,100 islands, has historically been an area of abuse and conquest. Of the 86 million Filipinos, we estimate that over 65 million have never once heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Wow. Not the case. And, before you Catholic-hate-mongers start commenting on how we don’t believe in Christ or we worship statues or we are able to do whatever because we can repent to our clergy…. know this, as the most basic element of our faith we believe the following:
“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, one in being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us men and our salvation He came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary , and became man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered, died, and was buried. On the third day He rose again in fulfillment of the scriptures: He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.”
Now – again, I started this blog with a disclaimer noting that I am not a devout Catholic. However, growing up in the Appalachian Bible Belt where our Church had a good-sized congregation but the Catholic school had a graduating eighth grade class of only eight kids – there were occasions I took heat for my faith. So I know how rough evangelicals can be when confronted with the fact that I, as a Catholic, DO (wholeheartedly) believe in Christ. When I moved to NYC I was in utter awe that there was a Catholic church on nearly every street corner. That, on Ash Wednesday, I rode the train home to Long Island with scores of people who sported ashes on their foreheads. Here in WV, as a kid, it is hard to explain to other kids what those “smudges” represented and why we had to wear them around town on our foreheads. They mocked what they did not know. The adults in this same Bible Belt continue to this day to mock what they do not know. What I noted a few lines ago, what “we” believe in? That is called the Nicene Creed if you care to look it up. It is basis of our faith.
In reading up on the subject, David Gray (an avid Catholic blogger) notes the following scripture: John 17:21-23. (Paraphrasing) it states that we (as Christians) are to come together as one, unified. So, why is it – when the Catholic religion follows Christ (in a more concentrated fashion than a number of Protestant churches) are “we” considered outsiders? Why is it that Bob Tebow feels the need to “poach Catholics” (as David Gray puts it)? Are we all not trying to reach the same goal? Should efforts in nations with under 1% of their population be a better sounding board for the Christian faith – countries like Tunisia, Algeria, Thailand, etc? Or is it easier to score new members to your congregation in a country that already, overwhelmingly, follows a Christ-themed doctrine?
I am curious to hear the feedback that I will receive on this subject and to see which of my southern “Christian friends” truly believe I am going to hell for practicing Catholicism. If you believe it, if it is your true faith to believe it – now is the time to tell me to my Face(book). So friend, do you think I am a heathen because I am Catholic?
Another thought – if Tim threw down a mat and faced Mecca, would we be so gung ho to allow him his religious expressions? Of, if he had the prayer beads of the Tibetan monks around his wrist in the locker room as he prepared for the day’s game, would we be so tolerant? Catholic is my faith. There are many faiths in the world and I am not arrogant enough to belittle you for yours, so why belittle me for mine?
Ok – I am braced, rip me a new one – explain to me why Bob Tebow’s ministry should not offend me.
Things I read while researching Bob Tebow’s mission (and my dislike of Tim Tebow as a player not one of the faithful):
Colorlines (Covers things like the anti abortion ad Tim was in with his mom, and whether he is endorsing a conservative political agenda.). Brought up an interesting subject – In 1996, NBA basketball player Craig Hodges sued the league, claiming that it blackballed him for his political activism. There are some others listed as well from the Vietnam era that displayed black pride and were conveniently and permanently removed from the playing field.
Salon (Covers the thought – what if Tim Tebow were Muslim?)
Gawker (Covers the Non-sports-fan guide to Tim Tebow)
Focus on the Family (The sponsor of the Tebow anti-abortion ad who are also not so fond of the gay community)
CNN Blog titled “Explain it to me John 316”