In this week's Time magazine -- compiled before the Denver Broncos' stunning overtime win on Sunday -- alleged religion expert and deposed Newsweek editor Jon Meacham brings his liberal Episcopalian sensibilities to the subject of Tim Tebow. Meacham tries to play referee between the warring sides, asking why we can't all get along. "This cultural Passion Play of red-state piety and blue-state scorn is at once familiar and dispiriting."
"If Christians like Tebow are going to bear witness so publicly, then they ought not to be surprised when they are talked about in ways that require them to turn the other cheek," Meacham lectured. "To insist that criticism of Tebow -- even vulgar criticism -- is evidence that American culture is hostile to Christianity is wrong-headed." It's not evidence? It's self-negating?
It depends on how you define "American culture." If it were defined as a culture found in neighborhoods or regions, it might be a red-state vs. blue-state thing. But if it were defined by the mass media in news and entertainment, it's quite obvious there's an anti-Christian hostility at nearly every turn. Bill Maher is widely celebrated in the "news" media -- quoted, cited, and interviewed, and almost never scorned. (Sports writers and TV personalities have been a little more meritocratic toward Tebow and willing to say "to each his own.")
Meacham noted the nasty Bill Maher tweets and the NBC Saturday Night Live skit. "Within moments, the Fox News Channel and the usual conservative suspects fired back, and so on and so on, world without end." The titans of our media culture aren't "liberal," but when the other side responds, they are the usual "conservative suspects." He also noticed:
A self-described virgin, Tebow inspired an Orlando radio station to launch a "Get Tebow Laid" campaign. Between the "I Hate Tim Tebow" Facebook pages and Tebowhaters.com, the hostility toward Tebow's overt religiosity is viral.
But all Meacham can say to the Mahers and the radio shock jocks is "secularists who take shots at believers need to remember that the American tradition of religious liberty protects those who profess a faith as well as those who do not." He doesn't say they are "wrong-headed" to mock Tebow. They're just perhaps a little forgetful of the constitutional particulars.
Meacham concluded: "I sometimes wonder if we are the new Greeks and Trojans, perpetuating a long war more out of habit than necessity." All this feigned neutrality is a bit phony. It seems like marketing, getting on the hot story and trying not to side too obviously with the liberals. Meacham suggested "With Billly Graham on the cool side of the mountain and George W. Bush living quietly in Dallas, Tebow is perhaps the most significant Evangelical Christian in the country. Depending on your point of view, hjis rise is a thoroughly American story of honest conviction or of ostentatious piety, of faith and family or of aggressive sectarianism."
Is there anything funnier than liberals disdaining "ostentatious piety"? In "news" magazines whose piety is normally directed at Barack Obama?