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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. Guster

    I love the comments about "pretty wingie thingie", so intelectually boring. Instead, let's believe the complex universe and all the amazing balance of life just "poof" arrived from a random explosion. Now that takes faith...

    December 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • What IF

      How about "We don't know (yet)"? What does that take? Honesty.

      Quit making things up and acting as if they are true. The default position is *not* that they are true until proven otherwise.

      December 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • wayne317

      "let's believe the complex universe and all the amazing balance of life just "poof" arrived from a random explosion. Now that takes faith..."

      It wasn't an explosion. Life begin on earth at least until 11 billion years after the big bang, so much for poof.

      So, what is your explantion? I know it's God did it, but how?

      December 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • rick

      Guster: How do you make the leap from (the possibility of) a creator to the certainty of a being that judges "sin"?

      December 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • John Richardson

      If all complex ent-ities require a creator, then god requires a creator. And as someone else pointed out,, a creator posited to explain the origin of the universe in no way implies the sort of petty, personal god the religious in general and Christians in particular tend to believe in.

      December 21, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  2. Portland tony

    If Mr Tebow had played any other position like kicker or center no one outside the NFL would have even cared if he looked like he was praying or passing gas on the sideline. Tim Tebow is a professional quarterback and a self styled Christian. Pat Robertson is a professional Christian and self styled commentator.

    December 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  3. Guster

    I have a lot of respect for Tebow, not afraid to live his faith. SNL is doing what they do...spoofing current events...not a big deal...

    December 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  4. OrthodoxGuy

    I have to ask... Why do you all hate christianity so much? If you don't want to believe in it, that's one thing, but- it seems like you purposfully come on here every day just to throw insults.

    December 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Wolf Blitzer

      I've always wondered the same thing. Funny how the Bible is right about those not of the light, hate the light. They prefer to use other reasons such as "religion being pushed in their face," or "all the world atrocities are relgions fault," etc.........But we know their real reason deep down. Jesus = Love & Forgiveness 🙂 Cheers and Merry Christmas to all!

      December 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Leucadia Bob

      Just to be the Devil's Advocate here(pun intended), I would say that Love and Forgiveness can be achieved through other means. A dogmatic system of belief where everyone believes in a Myth will so limit your world. Just think of what can be achieved in a world that knows no bounds. When you follow a religion (Like Christianity), you limit your boundaries of existence. Mainly this is because you have a finite truth to the universe. You die and you go to Heaven? That is so weak. Why not leave it up in the air? Honestly, nobody knows for sure what happens. You have to die first. And so while you are here on Earth, take advantage of that, instead of living for a myth. For the record. I don't think they are really bashing your religion. I think they are bashing you for not opening up your eyes to the possibilities. The possibilities are limitless, and for the most part unknown.

      December 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • rick

      i do not hate Christianity. I find people who claim to know what "god" likes or dislikes to be pompous asses. I also fear their aligning american government to agree with their religious text. I used to be an Orthodox guy, too

      December 21, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • boocat

      I don't hate christianity. I hate the hypocrites who call themselves christians and then proceed to say hateful things about gays, Muslims, atheists....the list goes on and on. When a person calls themself a christian in my presence I usually run the other way. These are the same people so quick to criticize. They disgust me.

      December 21, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • boocat

      Wolf Blitzer – you are a perfect example of the type of "christian" I despise. Ever hear "judge not lest ye be judged?" It's apparent by your comment you have not. To me you are nothing but an arrogant hypocrite.

      December 21, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • ozzy

      You know I see allot of people that post they don't believe in a creator or believe differently than I do. I am ok with this. I don't bash them about their beliefs. If they question me about my faith I share what I believe. If I am wrong I have lived a good life not based on selfish desire but on a higher calling. I know for me there is a place where I could never start to imagine or comprehend the Love my GOD that will be shower on me for eternity. You may say fable or myth, I say," GOD's love. HIs love drove the desire to create and to save. Although you may not believe in him, He believes in you. Although you may not see him, he sees you and although you may not Love him, he loves you. My hope is that you will one day have the eyes of your heart open to the message of peace and love in Christ Jesus.

      Merry Christmas

      December 25, 2011 at 10:06 am |
  5. Leucadia Bob

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9E3eY94Gu0k

    December 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  6. Reality

    Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:

    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals like Robertson and atonement theology,

    December 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • ozzy

      Many people have taken what is good and pure and used it for selfish gain. The Word of God even states that there will be wolves that will fleece the flock. Do not confuse sinful man with the savior. In the Word these are condemned and faced stricter judgment that the rest. Best to see yourself in light of the claims of the Bible and not the actions of men. Man is sinful beyond measure.

      December 25, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  7. Jonathan

    You know, I can respect Tim Tebow if for no other reason then that he isn't letting any of this criticism bug him.

    December 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  8. hippypoet

    right, first things first – that post wasn't me.. this is however and i think that this snl skit is frigging awesome – it had me rolling with laughs. second, i hope this kills the clearly retarded fad that has creeped up tebows @ss and infected many. Too much of anything is always a bad thing, and this wasn't good from the start!

    December 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  9. T. R.

    “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

    I'm sure that this is Pat Robertson's secret desire. Religion is disgusting, but thankfully, religion is dying.

    December 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Except it's not.

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/19/christianity-goes-global-as-worlds-largest-religion/

      December 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  10. Chuckles

    This is the biggest confusion I have whenever I see a believer, whether on this forum as quoted like Pat Robertson is when they talk about if this was Islam there would be bombings and death and what not.

    Is it Fatwa envy? Do these people wish that christians would be as up in arms as muslims are about muhammed when they see people poke fun at Jesus? I don't think it really helps a christians case to say, "you hateful bigoted person for poking fun at jesus, be glad I follow that guy or else I'd kill you...."

    December 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • HellBent

      "Is it Fatwa envy? Do these people wish that christians would be as up in arms as muslims are about muhammed when they see people poke fun at Jesus? "

      I think that describes a number of posters in this forum. @George and @hesalive come immediately to mind. Fortunately, I think that describes the tiniest minority of actual xtians – at least in my experience.

      December 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • DamianKnight

      Ummm...yeah. Anyone who claims to follow the words of Christ should know Luke 6:27-28 "But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."

      This is exactly what Jesus meant when He said to turn the other cheek.

      December 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  11. DamianKnight

    I am looking forward to the Superbowl. I am so done hearing about football.

    December 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • Chuckles

      AMEN TO THAT,

      I feel this football season has been the longest one ever.

      December 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  12. WOT

    Thank you Tebow, for what you have done to the Young(open their eyes to God)!

    December 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • rick

      Opened their eyes to god? Are you serious? If a QB praying on the sideline can open anyone's eyes to god, their belief seems kind of shallow

      December 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • T. R.

      The only young people who are influenced by Tim Tebow's actions are already brainwashed by religion. The rest of us really don't care.

      December 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • chrism

      One need look no further than these comment sections to understand just how brave and awesome Tim Tebow is. Look at the "lives" some people are living – built around tearing others down. I hope more role models like pro athletes realize how much it means to have the courage to praise God publicly. "Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels." Mark 8:38 It means so much to young people getting bullied in school by just the same kind of bitter, confused angry people as come to these message boards. And when Kurt Warner or Brad Lidge speaks up I hope it just puts to shame their classmates who in their own blindness spew forth all kinds of insults no doubt like only the weak or losers believe. What a shame that children, that anyone endures such injustice. Yet their reward is great. God sees every single solitary one of our actions. He will indeed bless all those who endure persecutions for His sake. "The glory of the young is their strength" Proverbs 20:29. Tebow is just letting the glory go to God instead of to his own head. Praise our Lord Jesus Christ for giving us such great gifts.

      December 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  13. H-Love

    Pat, you should chill! God has a great sense of humor. He created you. When Christ was on earth, he hung out with the "sinners" and non-believers. He was invited to all their parties. They loved Him, because He was very accepting and non-judgemental to their way of life, comments and I'm sure, sense of humor. And He was chastised by religious leaders.

    December 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • o.k.

      @H-Love...I think your mostly right. You've filled in some details that may or may not be true that aren't in the Bible, but I don't think you've said anything that is per se incorrect. However, you leave the impression that "nonjudgmental" is equal to "approval." While He may have been nonjudgmental, we shouldn't think for a second that that translates into approval of their sinners' "way of life." Jesus made it clear throughout his teachings that we were to hold ourselves out to a holy standard. He didn't judge the woman caught in an adulterous relationship, but he did tell her to stop. I think Jesus gave us the right standard–love each person regardless of who or what they are, but share with them, as gently as possible, that His standards veto ours.

      December 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • claybigsby

      the fact is that you dont know what Jesus actually did or said. Everyone who wrote about the man never saw him, knew him or talked to him. Everything in the bible relating to Jesus is hearsay.

      December 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • o.k.

      @clay...so what. By that standard, much of what we know today about our past is hearsay. I never met my great-grandparents, but my parents have told me about them. Are the stories of my parents therefore to be disregarded? Hearsay does not necessarily translate into unreliable (it can be...but certainly not always).

      December 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  14. grandma spurned by Robertson!

    hence that snide remark by granny 😉

    December 21, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Steve

      That grandma should stick to that love connection she has with the imams!

      December 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  15. J.W

    I personally am glad that Tebow has faith. Hopefully he thanks God for how good his defense has played and kept him in the game so many times.

    December 21, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Yo!

      Go Pats! Heeheeheee....atheists got it right. LOL!

      December 21, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • J.W

      Yeah I am sure every Patriots fan is an atheist.

      December 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  16. hippypoet

    This poem kindve fits the occassion.

    Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Merry Christmas to all
    Feed me your doo doo.

    December 21, 2011 at 11:42 am |
  17. Colin

    Why would anybody want to make fun of a religion that believes that a god impregnated a virgin with himself to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself, to "forgive" and original sin we now all know never happened. That makes perfect sense.

    December 21, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • warmesTghosT

      Christianity – the belief that God created man so he could damn billions of us to Hell in order to make us love His Son, who is Him.

      Makes total sense to me. Off to church I go.

      December 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  18. EnjaySea

    Oh great, a new reason for christians to wail, and gnash their teeth.

    Isn't it just awful that a church which has held dominion over all of western civilization for 2,000 years now has to suffer the indignity of being questioned, examined, and criticized, as they have done to others since the first century.

    December 21, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • purpleperil

      Fourth century ce. They didnt dominate western civ till middle of fourth century. Otherwise spot on.

      January 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  19. J.W

    Only Pat Robertson could have made this controversial. I think that Jesus is probably a fun loving guy who doesn't mind if we joke around a little bit.

    December 21, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  20. tallulah13

    Huh. I thought Pat Robertson was dead. I guess I must have been thinking about one of the other self-serving TV evangelists.

    December 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • rick

      i can see what you mean. there are so many of them. jimmy swaggart his his offspring in the fleece-the-suckers business

      December 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Fred

      It's called prosperity preaching, and God does not have a problem with it, so neither should you.

      December 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • rick

      fred: pretty presumptuous of you claiming to know what god has a problem with. as to what i should have a problem with, it is truly not your call. swaggat, hinn, et al, are fleecing suckers. if you want to call it "prosperity preaching", have at it. they are nothing but high minded carnival barkers

      December 21, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • boocat

      Hey Fred – get real....I get it..."God is all powerful and all knowing but he needs money. He just can't handle money." A quote from my favorite atheist, George Carlin.

      December 21, 2011 at 3:02 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.