jeremy lin

Why the War on Christian Athletes Gesturing to God?

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Tim Tebow practicing with the New York Jets last month. Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Why should religious leaders, of all people, turn their fire on celebrities who use their popularity for public proclamations of the Almighty's power?

In an age when media icons flaunt every sort of indulgence and depravity, prominent members of clergy should find more appropriate targets to scold than athletic achievers like football's Tim Tebow, basketball's Jeremy Lin or baseball's Josh Hamilton, who choose to flaunt their devout Christian commitment.

Widespread discomfort toward well-publicized professions of faith highlights a significant rift in outlook — not just between believers and skeptics, but between religious people who want to limit theological affirmations to church or synagogue settings and those who announce their ardent belief at every opportunity.

Jeremy Lin and Jesus: A Round Up

Jeremy Lin drives to the basket against the Toronto Raptors, Feb. 14, 2012. Phot

Jeremy Lin drives to the basket against the Toronto Raptors, Feb. 14, 2012. Photo via GETTY IMAGES .

Jeremy Lin has been all the hype this week, but in case you’re still not familiar with him, or are still navigating the waters, we’ve rounded up some of the best coverage of Lin and his faith from the past week. But before diving in, you can read a bit of Lin’s background story and see how he compares to the popular Christian athlete Tim Tebow, in Sojourners’ assistant’s Joshua Witchger and James Colten’s article “The Lin-carnation of Tim Tebow?” And for a little exploration on crafting our own heroes, see God’s Politics contributor Christian Piatt’s “Jeremy Lin and Messiah Formula.” 


Jeremy Lin and the 'Messiah Formula'

Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Fans show their support for Jeremy Lin during the game against the Timberwolves 2/11/12.By David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

No, he doesn't go down on one knee every time he nails a dunk or a perimeter shot. And as far as I know, he’s not building any hospitals in far-off countries. But the 23-year-old point guard for the New York Knicks suddenly finds himself in a spotlight familiar enough to Tebow that the pair should consider a face-to-face lunch to compare notes.

Like Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin “rode the pine” as a bench-warmer for years. Unlike the star quarterback, Lin was cut by two other NBA teams before landing a supporting role on the Knicks bench.

So why do we know about him all of a sudden? Although Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni would love to claim credit, he admits the only reason the American-born player of Taiwanese parents got his shot was because so many players ahead of him were injured.

Then, as if storing up his energy for months in anticipation of his big break, Lin lit up scoreboards, followed by sports talk shows and endorsement deals. Eleven days ago, he was a relative nobody. But it seems all it takes is leading your team to a six-game winning streak, posting 38 points against Kobe Bryant and snagging a buzzer-beater three-pointer against the Raptors to get the public’s attention.

So long Tebowmania; enter “Linsanity.”

Afternoon News Bytes: Feb.15, 2012

You've Heard Of Evangelicals, But Who Are They?; Radical Solutions To Economic Inequality; Playing Fair In Love And Climate Change; Jeremy Lin Says Faith In God Triggered 'Lin-Sanity'; 800,000 Americans Tell Senate: Stop The Keystone XL Pipeline; 5 Things You Might Have Missed In Obama's Proposed 2013 Budget; 'Plug In Better': A Manifesto; Render Unto Caesar; Are You A Real Christian?; Hundreds Rally Against Alabama Immigration Law.

The Lin-carnation of Tim Tebow?

Jeremy Lin林书豪. Image via Wylio,

Jeremy Lin林书豪. Image via Wylio,

Tim Tebow references were a dime a dozen as the 2011-2012 NFL season drew to a close. News media, op-eds, fans, Bill Maher — everyone was talking about the Broncos QB's accomplishments, his unabashed Christian faith, the way he would pray when he scored a touchdown. (See: Tebowing.)

And plenty of people questioned whether or not God was really on Tim's side.

Football season is over, and the lull in “Tebow fever” is forcing more than a few of us to look for similar athletic incarnations of the John 3:16-face painted footballer. So when word got around that the New York Knick’s (until recently) virtually unknown point guard Jeremy Lin is scoring some big points at the start of his professional career AND that he is a committed Christian, the masses have found their new fixation.

But are the comparisons between Tebow and Lin really valid?