Okay, no He doesn’t or else the Colts would have brought home another Super Bowl trophy. He couldn’t even throw me a bone and give me an Eagles/Steelers Bowl. Now, right before the Super Bowl, Mike Pereira, the N.F.L.’s outgoing head of officials , came out with a ruling related to end zone demonstrations:

The whole issue is, you can’t go to the ground on your knees or with your hand or anything. There’s only one time that you’re going to be allowed to go on your knee after you score like this, and that’s when you want to praise the Lord. If you do that, then I’m going to allow that, because I do not want to be struck by lightning, I promise you that. We will allow that.

Santonio Holmes’ use of the football as a prop after his spectacular catch aside, one can’t help but think of how many players point to the sky or drop to their knee after scoring a touchdown or making a spectacular play. For some reason, it always brings to mind hip hop artists who thank God when they win an award. It’s the cynical me: I wonder how much of that praise is more about the praiser rather than the praisee, giving lip service to image-control rather than a profession of faith.

I think part of our natural jadedness with such professions comes from the stench of hypocrisy that usually accompanies them. After all, it’s easy to wear a cross necklass, sport a bumper sticker, of have a catchy T-shirt … none of which matters when you’re caught drunk at a strip club. With Kurt Warner and Tim Tebow, we have the tale of two football players who are professing Christians. Both of whom have come under some fire under the auspices of what’s appropriate for declarations of faith while at work.

Kurt Warner, embraced by Evangelicals, celebrates his faith by helping others through charities. He gives freely of his time, started the Sunshine Foundation which serves the seriously ill and physically challenged and abused children. Interestingly enough, even he’s aware of how he comes across, as he’s been known to say “you know it’s coming” right before he thanks God.
Our other case study is Tim Tebow, the son of Christian missionaries. He drew tons of criticism for putting Bible verse references in his eye black (although, part of me suspects that some people were mad they didn’t think of how to sell that space as advertising first). Proselytizing is part of the faith tradition, the interpretation of what it means to “go forth and make disciples”. Tony Dungy, another man of faith, as been very conscious about using the NFL to build a bigger pulpit from which to spread his message and better do God’s kingdom work.

Sure, we could have the discussion about what constitutes appropriate displays of faith at your workplace. [Sometimes I think people expect some sort of bait and switch out of my stories (sample plot: imperiled teens are cornered by a serial killer. Luckily, one teen stops and prays and leads the killer to salvation.)] I’m more interested in the way they choose to go about their brands of proclaiming the faith. Personally, I’ve always leaned toward the non-intrusive, least-offensive (because, let’s face it, the gospel message alone is offensive to some) and, most importantly, develops from the natural course of the relationship brand of evangelism.

Regardless, I believe the true offense is when folks are being inauthentic and hypocritical about their faith. If it’s an extension of who they are, honestly, I have no problem with it. I just keep in mind this quote from the movie The Big Kahuna:

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling Jesus or Buddha or civil rights or ‘How to Make Money in Real Estate With No Money Down.’ That doesn’t make you a human being; it makes you a marketing rep. If you want to talk to somebody honestly, as a human being, ask him about his kids. Find out what his dreams are – just to find out, for no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it, it’s not a conversation anymore; it’s a pitch. And you’re not a human being; you’re a marketing rep. “

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