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SNL Tim Tebow controversy continues debate over quarterback's faith
A "Saturday Night Live" sketch imagined a meeting between Tim Tebow and Jesus.
December 21st, 2011
11:23 AM ET

SNL Tim Tebow controversy continues debate over quarterback's faith

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – When “Saturday Night Live” parodied Tim Tebow’s relationship with Jesus last weekend, not everyone was laughing.

Televangelist Pat Robertson called the sketch, in which the Denver Broncos quarterback is met in a locker room by Jason Sudeikis playing Jesus, an example of “anti-Christian bigotry that is just disgusting.”

Speaking on the Christian Broadcast Network on Monday, Robertson wondered aloud about how other religions would have reacted to a similar parody.

“If this had been a Muslim country and they had done that and had Mohammed doing that stuff, you would have found bombs being thrown off and bodies on the street,” Robertson said.

The SNL sketch had Jesus meeting Tebow after the Broncos come-from-behind win against the Chicago Bears the previous Sunday. In it,
Sudeikis jokes that instead of reading the Bible, Tebow might want to read the playbook so that he (Jesus) doesn’t have to intervene in the 4th quarter.

“First of all, you are welcome – yes, I, Jesus Christ, are the reason you have won your past 6 football games,” says Sudeikis.

The skit and the controversy continues a narrative that combines religion, sport, and seemingly miraculous come-from-behind victories and that is turning Heisman-trophy-winning Tebow into a cultural icon.

From Rick Perry comparing himself to Tebow in a recent Republican presidential debate to Sarah Palin describing herself as “pro-Tebow” in an interview on Sunday, Tebow is gaining public admiration far outside of the world of football.

“I am so pro-Tebow,” Palin, the former vice presidential nominee, said on Fox News. “He is so unashamed of his savior, Jesus of Nazareth. He knows that Jesus is going to rock your world when you give it all over to him. He knows that the son of God should be honored a praised and Tebow does that and I respect it.”

Tebow’s on-field calling card has become his habit of getting down on one knee to pray while everyone else on the team celebrates, an act known as “Tebowing.” The gesture had been mocked by Tebow opponents and has led to high school students being suspended but has also spurred a Tebowing website and has been adopted by some other NFLers.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger Tebowed during a Monday night game.

Tebow has remained mostly silent about all the drama around him and his faith. An avid Twitter user with over 700,000 followers, Tebow hasn’t commented on the SNL skit or Roberterson’s or Palin’s recent comments.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Christianity • Sports • TV

soundoff (553 Responses)
  1. Beachbumhelen

    I would like to see all Christians crucified on the road leading to the promised land of New York.

    March 5, 2013 at 1:23 am |
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    April 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  6. Luis

    SNL is a creature of our times. I cannot talk for the cast of SNL or their viewers, which includes myself once in a while. I can only say that I am a Christian believer. That I firmly believe in Christ and that He is my savior. My faith tells me that my God is a God of power, of immense resources, and that He and only He will judge me, the SNL cast, and the rest of the viewers along with this nation. Today, I bow to Him, Creator of Heaven and Earth, I hope, as He promised, that He will come soon, that every eye will see Him in all His glory and, as my faith tells me, that He will justly judge everyone according to their deeds. I pray for me, the cast of SNL, their viewers, this nation, and this world, to seek faith in this humble child, born of humble origins, who claimed no to have even a pillow to lay his head, who died in the most horrible way in the Cross, and left this story, the greates story ever told, a story of immensurable love and compassion by God, creator of the micro and the macro cosmos, for us humans, miserable ants that inhabit this vast miracle called Creation.

    May every knee bow to Him one day, may every eye see His glory!!!! Amen.

    January 17, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Chad

      very well said, thanks.

      January 17, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • Jen

      Well said!!

      January 17, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • bigdakine

      You are welcome to your imarginary sky-daddy who is concenred with who wins what football game.. But don't ply the rest of us with your delusions, OK?

      January 17, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Susyn

      There is medication to help you. God delusions are a treatable, non-life threatening disease and if these medications would have been available to Jesus of Nazareth, we might not have all the fighting in the world today. Live a moral code because it is the RIGHT thing to do, not because you are afraid of some fictious thing in the sky.

      January 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Beachbumhelen

      Your a half-wit.

      March 5, 2013 at 1:20 am |
    • Beachbumhelen

      Your also mentally ill.

      March 5, 2013 at 1:21 am |
  7. ProgressiveMike

    Not surprising that Robertson responded this way. After all, SNL took a bedrock belief of Christianity, a personal relationship between JC and a (very famous) follower, and portrayed it in a humorous way, and ALSO, portrayed it in a way that Christians actually think of it – a prayer conversation between their lord and one of the flock. Christians are also more than ready to ascribe Tebow's recent success to his religious faith, and to the belief that God/JC "answers prayers" and is interested in bringing about favorable outcomes for the praying supplicant ("please lord help me play to my full capabilities so we can win this game, and I will glorify you.") In other words, what's portrayed was PRECISELY what Robertson and his ilk encourage millions to do every day, and it was PRECISELY how Robertson thinks life ought to be lived. Now he's crying foul, because it's accurate, if humorous? Please.

    January 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  8. Mike Buck

    Tim seems like a good and sincere person and I'm sure he has a sense of humor. I can't say the same for Palin and Robertson. I'm just glad the God didn't tell them to run for President again, as he did with Michelle and the Ricks!

    January 15, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  9. al from orlando

    a great deal of effort has been spent on our beginning and little on our end. Many joke about the religious end. Maybe the end
    is near. I have my date set. Do you? Many will be selected for a new future while others can only view that precious moment.

    January 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • a guy

      uh, wut?

      January 12, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • RaptureNot

      Do you have any idea how many people have wasted their lives waiting for the "end times" that never came? in colloquial terms "no man knows the hour of my coming" would read "don't hold your breath". You will never see the rapture, you are deluding yourself and throwing away your life in the process.

      January 13, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • authorsnote

      When an earthquake hits Los Angeles all the religious (who have been waiting for two millenia) run around screaming, "See, we told you. Then the Hindus shout that Kali has arrived. Good tenet to follow: Keep your religion, just keep it to yourself.

      January 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • kflanigan

      Can I have your car after the rapture.

      January 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  10. Red Dawg

    Pat, if this parody had been done on Muhammad, you would have seen certain radicals make bizarre threats to the creators while the rest of the civilized world yawned, some people might have died. Since it was done here to Christianity, the American version of Islam, both cults, we have our own radicals calling for decapitations and bloodshed: you.

    January 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Darci Stengle

      BRAVO Red Dawg.

      January 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  11. Eric

    To prove their lack of bias and their lack of fear, I challenge SNL to do a sketch like this featuring a devout Muslim and the prophet Mohammed.

    January 11, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • frisk80

      The reason America is supposed to be great, is that you can make these types of expression and not worry about being persecuted. That goes for Tebow and SNL. Pat Robertson asking what would happen if this were a Muslim country and this happened is a ridiculous question. You are not in a Muslim country, this is supposed to be what make America great, does he wish that someone would take a stand and show SNL the error in their ways? What a fool.

      January 11, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  12. angel

    this is just silly- why is this called a controversy!!!!!-he is a believer-why are people making such a big deal out of this!!! he is allowed to believe whatever he wants–geesh people get a grip-leave the poor guy alone–he is an amazing athlete, stop getting yourselves all in a twist because he shows his faith in public-how petty can you get!!! this is so a non issue -a waste of space writing about this. yes it interests me because there are so many other things going on in our world that are sooooo bad that this is just, like i said, silly!

    January 11, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • ChrisS

      The controversy isn't about whether or not Tebow believes. I don't think anyone cares what he believes. But when you imply that God helped you win a FOOTBALL game, which would mean God helped the other team lose, is RIDICULOUS. The controversy here is about the parody, which you are right, shouldn't be a controversy. We are AMERICANS and we can say what we want for the most part. No harm was intended in this skit, and no harm was done. Chrisitans – GET OVER YOURSELVES!!

      January 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.