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A couple months ago, I had an on-air conversation with veteran liberal commentator Cokie Roberts who spent a great deal of time discussing her belief that then Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney would struggle in early Republican primary states because they are heavy laden with evangelical Christian voters. Those voters, she supposed, would struggle against their inner bigot when it came to voting for a Mormon.
Curious about this sudden liberal concern over anti-religious zealotry, I followed up her analysis with a question: "On the heels of the outrageous leftwing attacks on the Mormon church during the Proposition 8 battle in California, and given some of the recent mockery of the Mormon faith coming from left wing commentators like Bill Maher, suppose Mitt Romney does win the nomination, Ms. Roberts. How much worse do you think the religious bigotry of the left will be in the general election?" Though she eventually acknowledged that yes, "there could be some of that," overall she seemed dumbfounded at the question.
And why wouldn't she be? For well over a generation, the bigot label has been reserved solely for conservatives who disagree with the prevailing societal winds as defined by the left. Liberals, meanwhile, who for years have expressed personal disdain for traditional values and those who espouse them, have proven collectively immune from such a hostile characterization. And this phenomenon extends beyond the world of politics. Just ask Tim Tebow.
Though there may be no other topic more thoroughly exhausted than the Tebow "controversy," the left-wing frenzy surrounding this affable, genial and genuine 24 year old football superstar is quite instructive. Though originally masked by left-wing sportswriters as professional criticism of a quarterback who lacked sufficient skills to win in the NFL, it didn't take long before the real motivation behind the anti-Tebow strains became self-evident. When NBC Sports commentator Jelisa Castrodale observed that, "The NFL's other backup-turned-starters don't generate this type of negativity," CBS analyst Randy Cross explained why: "People, especially the media, root against him because of what he stands for." Vilifying someone simply because of their beliefs...sounds a lot like what the left has called bigotry, doesn't it?
As Tebow's successes on the field accumulated, the bitterness and hatred of the left became uncontrollable, culminating with liberal radio host Bill Press (the same man who ironically just authored a book called "Toxic Talk") mocking Tebow for always thanking, "my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." This before Press went on to spew, "You know what I want to say? S.T.F.U. [shut the f*** up]. I'm tired of hearing Tim Tebow and all this Jesus talk." Press wasn't done, later calling Tebow a "disgrace" and "embarrassment." It's important to understand Press' motivation in coming to such a hateful conclusion. Is it because of Tebow's poor performance on the field? Not a chance. Is it because of Tebow's lavish lifestyle and uncouth mannerisms? Nope. There are plenty of loudmouths in professional sports that love to talk about themselves, their wealth, their skills, their performances - and Press hasn't been moved to tell any of them to S.T.F.U. So what gives?
The only explanation for what can possibly be fueling this hatred and contempt for Tebow is that he thanks Jesus Christ at every opportunity. That reality alone is what is driving these self-defined paragons of tolerance into the realm of derangement. And if that seems like too strong of a descriptor, consider the words of left-wing Rabbi Joshua Hammerman in a recent column: "If Tebow wins the Super Bowl, against all odds, it will buoy his faithful, and emboldened faithful can do insane things, like burning mosques, bashing gays and indiscriminately banishing immigrants. While America has become more inclusive since Jerry Falwell's first political forays, a Tebow triumph could set those efforts back considerably."
For years, liberals have publicly denounced the disagreement and moral disapproval conservatives have articulated towards various belief systems as "irrational hatred." That's why this Tebow situation offers a teachable moment that conservatives should not let pass by. While resisting the urge to condone and embrace destructive beliefs and behavior is not irrational nor hateful, impugning millions of faithful Christians by suggesting that they will torch mosques and exile immigrants just because a football player leads his team to victory is both.
What causes it? Given that Tebow has preached no sermon, written no scathing op-ed blasting the practice of abortion, taken no public stand on the issue of gay marriage nor endorsed the eventual presidential nominee of the Republican Party, the only plausible explanation for such absurdity is that he dares to boldly utter the name of Christ, unreserved and unashamed. If that be not bigotry, the word has no meaning.
If liberals want a real reason to despise Tim Tebow, it should be because his mere presence in the national spotlight has pulled the veil off of their seething and self-evident anti-Christian bigotry.