November 17, 2011
In their own ways, Tim Tebow(notes) and Jesus are each very popular. Some Denver Broncos fans, like the gentleman pictured above, combine their love of Tebow and Jesus into one customized football jersey -- a No. 15 with "Jesus" across the back.
It's a growing trend, it seems. The NFL prevents customers from putting a lot of things on the back of their customized jerseys -- 1,159 things, to be exact (naughty language at that link) -- but "Jesus" isn't one of them. Curiously, "JESUS CHRIST" and "JESUSCHRIST" are on the prohibited list, but at least for now, "Jesus" is in the clear. (Note: The other specific individuals to make the banned list are Rae Carruth, Jeffrey Dahmer, Yellowman and Osama Bin Laden, though the list may have been updated since then.)
It's an issue that's tied to religion, and, as with all such things, opinions are strong and varied. We'll start with the criticism first, since that's what makes it an issue. An article about the Jesus jerseys appeared Tuesday at The Christian Post, quoting a couple people who disapproved. First, a fellow named Jason Homer, a Colorado native currently doing missionary work in Peru:
"I think it is ridiculous that people are creating Jesus jerseys with Tebow´s number. I like Tebow but that is just wrong," Homer told The Christian Post. "I do not agree with the way they are using the name of Jesus."
"It is just disrespectful using his name on a jersey with Tebow's number."
They also quoted another Christian Coloradan named Chris Gaudreau:
"It's making Tebow out to be a god instead of an athlete. I'm happy he's a Christian and isn't afraid to demonstrate that, but for fans to hold him up in such high regard, perhaps comparing him to Jesus, is going too far."
We'll get back to more criticism in a minute, but it also feels like a good idea to get Tim Tebow's opinion, as he's at the center of all this. Mike Klis of The Denver Post asked him for his thoughts on the Jesus jerseys:
"I don't know what to think about that because I don't know where people's hearts are," Tebow said today. "It's important to not judge without knowing their hearts. If their heart is to honor the Lord, then it's a good thing. Only God can judge because only God knows what's truly in a person's heart."
A poll on The Denver Post's website asked fans for their opinion, and 41.24 percent of people said they felt like the Tebow/Jesus jerseys were disrespectful, while 41.97 percent shared a view similar to Tebow's. Only 16.78 percent feel like the jerseys are OK.
Here are a couple more opinions from people in the comments section at The Christian Post. First, Charles Hubbard:
"Tim Tebow should not be profiting from Christianity and profiting by promoting a company named after the evil pagan goddess Nike. You can't honor the name of God and the name of the pagan goddess Nike and expect to be blessed! God wants his whole heart. Jesus served God 100%... TIm Tebow does not."
"That should be "JESUS IS" with the #1 below it."
"I hope Tim comes out with a statement gently deploring this gimmick and/or disavowing any connection to it. It does seem to be an effort to commercially exploit both Christ and Tim, and puts both of them in a rather shabby light."
And Linda Braine:
"I'm not 'ok with it'. It reminds me of the "christian book stores" that slap scripture on pencils and frisbees. Tim needs to slow down, play football and just honor the Lord like he has been."
Nothing religious is non-controversial. In fact, not much about Tim Tebow seems to be non-controversial. These jerseys aren't the first things to pop up that tie Tebow and Jesus together, maybe closer than people would like. You don't have to look far. This will not be the last lightning-rod issue surrounding Tebow and his (or your) faith.
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