When Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow kneels after a big win or thanks God in an interview, some fans love it and some, well, they don’t.
But are Tebow’s open expressions of faith crossing a line? In his weekly video discussion about ethical issues in the news, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield addressed that and other Tebow-related questions submitted by readers.
Hirschfield’s take: Imposing your faith into a conversation or event (like a touchdown celebration or an interview with a sideline reporter) can be okay. To repeat: It can be.
“If by ‘impose,’ you mean using the influence or position we have to give voice to something we feel or think deeply, that’s one of the privileges that comes with success, leadership or accomplishment,” Hirschfield said, “as long as it’s accompanied by a significant dose of humility, one that says, ‘When my imposing my faith into the conversation starts to feel in any way coercive to those around me or distracting to those around me, I will rein it in.’ But so far [with Tebow] that doesn’t seem to be the case.
“There’s no reason to be repulsed by it. Unless and until it becomes not just an expression of faith but a demand that others share in that faith -- at that point we should not just be repulsed by it, we should actually stop it.”
Hirschfield also said Tebow’s propensity to thank God publicly may make him more valuable to the Broncos.
After a touchdown or a victory, Tebow says, he thanks God, then his teammates, then his family.
“It turns out for many people that expressing gratitude to God is a gateway to expressing gratitude to people,” Hirschfield said. And when a quarterback freely thanks his teammates, acknowledging he could not succeed without them -- it “may make him a better teammate.”
And Hirschfield reacted to recent comments by former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner -- who, like Tebow, is a devout Christian. Warner said Tebow should consider toning down his references to religion.
Hirschfield agreed, saying that it’s not what you say, but what you do that counts.
“Live in a way that those who don’t share your faith look at you with a measure of admiration and respect [and] can appreciate how your own faith makes you a more ethical, decent loving kind hard-working effective human being -- without demanding share in your own faith -- and people will in fact honor your faith even if they continue to disagree with it.
“Living your faith will always mean more than speaking your faith, and saying less can be more.”
Watch the entire Q&A -- which also addressed the latest allegations faced by Herman Cain and whether public figures face too much scrutiny of their private lives -- here.
The League: The man behind Tim Tebow
On Leadership: Putting faith in Tim Tebow