After the Denver Broncos emerged from another significant win against the Chicago Bears last week, a number of media outlets began to ponder whether Tebow’s faith and constant prayer played a role in his success as a starting quarterback for the Broncos. On Saturday, December 17, Saturday Night Live made fun of the notion that Tebow’s spirituality has anything to do with his victories.
The SNL skit featured Jason Sudeikis as Jesus Christ, who appears to Tim Tebow in the locker room after a Broncos’ win. As Tebow, played by Taran Killam, prayed and thanked “the most important person in my life, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” as Tebow often says during press conferences, Jesus appears.
"First of all, you're welcome. Yes, I Jesus Christ, am indeed the reason you've won your past six football games," He says. "Here's the thing: If we're going to keep doing this, you guys gotta meet me halfway out there. Let's face it: It's not a good week if every week, I have to come in, drop everything, and bail out the Denver Broncos in the fourth quarter. I'm a busy guy."
In the skit, Tebow is awestruck by the presence of his Savior, who offers Tebow a few words of advice, which include stretching before the game, reading the playbook, and taking his displays of faith “down a notch.”
Additionally, Jesus asked the players who they were going to be playing next. When He learned it was the New England Patriots, Jesus replied, “If I’m the son of God, Tom Brady’s gotta’ be the guy’s nephew. The guy’s a miracle worker.”
The entire skit provoked a laugh from the audience, but not everyone found it funny.
Televangelist Pat Robertson blasted Saturday Night Live for what he called a “disgusting” attack on Christianity.
“There’s an anti-Christian bigotry that is just disgusting and I think Saturday Night Live did a parody of that, had Jesus come in,” Robertson said.
Robertson also noted that if the skit had mocked Muslims in the same way, it would have provoked an entirely different response. “If this had been a Muslim country and they had done that, and had Muhammad doing that stuff, you would have found bombs being thrown off!”
“And bodies on the street!” interjected co-anchor Terry Meeuwsen. “And bodies on the street!” Robertson repeated. “And we think it’s okay.”
“Tebow is an example, and I think he is a wonderful human being,” Robertson continued. “We need more religious faith in our society. We’re losing our moral compass in our nation and this man has been placed in a unique position and I applaud him. God bless him.”
Bob Beckel, the liberal contributor to Fox News’ The Five, was strongly offended by the sketch on SNL. He said, “First of all, it’s despicable to display Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, like that on Satuday Night Live and they should be ashamed of themselves. And the fact that this keeps drawing attention to Tebow and Christianity and faith and Jesus and they make it into some sort of commercial operation…there’s nothing funny about that.”
When Beckel blasted SNL for its skit, the other hosts of The Five appeared wholeheartedly surprised by his reaction, but Beckel pointed out that there was no reason to distinguish his liberalism and his religion. The other hosts did not seem to be perturbed by the SNL skit, and some even found it to be humorous.
The SNL sketch is only the most recent attack on Tebow’s faith.
Last month, the Christian Post reported on the taunting of Tim Tebow by fans of the opposing teams which has not just targeted his quarterback abilities, but his faith. The Post wrote, “Oakland Raiders’ fans held signs that read ‘Welcome to Hell,’ directed at Tebow during the pre-game warm-ups before Sunday’s NFL match-up in Oakland. Sunday’s game marks the second week that the evangelical quarterback was targeted by fans for his Christian beliefs.”
The week before the Oakland Raiders game, when the Broncos played the Detroit Lions, Lions’ linebacker Stephen Tullock openly mocked Tebow’s prayer pose, dubbed “Tebowing,” after he sacked Tebow in the second quarter. Later in the game, other Lions’ players followed suit.
Gordon Thiessen, director for training and resources at the Nebraska Fellowship of Christian Athletes, later said of the gestures, “I think the linebacker for the Lions was attempting to not mock God, but to mock Tebow and have fun with it. But it was still in bad taste and inappropriate, at best.”
The attacks on Tebow’s faith prompted ESPN’s Jemele Hill to write:
Ridicule Tim Tebow for his slow release, for missing open receivers, for throwing passes that sail out of bounds, and for sometimes dancing in the pocket like someone put a firecracker in his cleats.
That's fair game.
But mocking Tebow's Christian beliefs is not.
Hill articulated similar statements to that of Robertson: “If Tebow were Muslim or Jewish, would Tulloch and [the other players] have been so quick to execute a prayer parody? Would columnists, such as my friend Dan Wetzel…encourage those who were offended by Tulloch’s Tebowing to just lighten up?”
Tebow has taken the mockery in strides, never once rebuking anyone for their bad behavior. Most could argue that his healthy response to the abuse exemplifies the power of his faith.