Introduction: The Black Sox Scandal
The 1919 Chicago White Sox were heavily favored to win the 1919 World Series. The White Sox had the very best baseball players of that era: pitcher Ed Cicotte, third baseman George “Buck” Weaver, and fan favorite outfielder “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. During that World Series, the White Sox played poorly and their effort lack luster against the Cincinnati Reds. Rumors started that the White Sox players were on the take, that several if not all of the players had taken money from gamblers who bet against the White Sox to lose. These rumors started to increase when the White Sox did finally lose to the Reds.
Fans and officials called for a hearing to find out if White Sox players did indeed take money from gamblers to throw that World Series. A grand jury hearing was held wherein several of White Sox players testified. Two players Ed Cicotte and Joe Jackson made statements admitting to taking money from gamblers, statements which they would later recant. A subsequent trial in 1921 acquitted all the players from any wrong doing. Despite the trial court’s findings, baseball’s new commissioner Kenesaw “Mountain” Landis banned all the players from playing professional baseball.
Legend has it that after the court hearing, as Joe Jackson was walking out of the courthouse, young fans who idolized Jackson said to him, “Say It Ain’t So Joe” in reference to Jackson’s admission in court to taking money from gamblers in order to throw the World Series. Jackson allegedly responded, “It’s true boys”, then walked away.
Tim Tebow/First Baptist Church Dallas Incident
Heroes. America loves it’s heroes to the point of obsession, and Christians are not exempt from that form of hero worship. We make heroes out of our favorite movie stars and sports figures. We later find out that our heroes are flawed, human, and ultimately sinners. They make mistakes, they don’t meet our high expectations, they sin. Love him or hate him Tim Tebow is one of those heroes especially in the world of evangelical Christianity. Christians admire him not only because of his heroics on the football field at the University of Florida and later the Denver Broncos, but Tebow was seemingly unabashed in his public proclamation of his Christian faith from putting on eye black with Bible verses on them, kneeling and praying in dedication to God after a touchdown which has been dubbed “Tebowing”, and also his work with different Christian charities.
The Christian Post and Christian News Network reported this week that New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow was scheduled to speak at the dedication service of the new $130 million dollar church facility at Pastor Robert Jeffress’ First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Reports stated that homosexual activists and the media pressured Tebow in declining the invitation because they accused Jeffress’ church of racism and propagating hate speech against homosexuals, Jews, and Muslims. Tebow subsequently cancelled his scheduled appearance citing personal reasons and not wanting to get involved in another controversy at this time. What those controversies Tebow alluded to in his statement have not been disclosed. Did Tebow back out of his scheduled appearance because of pressure from homosexual activists and the media? More than likely, but only Tebow and God knows that for sure. Was Tebow right in doing this if what speculators say is true that Tebow didn’t want to make this appearance to cause more controversy? Absolutely not. Tebow should have stood his ground and made his appearance anyway despite the pressure from these groups and the possibility of more controversy.
There are really three things that Christians can learn from this incident: 1) there is now a tangible cost for being a Christian in the United States, 2) homosexuals and liberal activists main objective is not only for the culture to accept homosexuality, but to marginalize and quite frankly eliminate the influence of Christianity from the public sector, and 3) we should be gracious to Tim Tebow.
There Is Now a Cost for Being a Christian in the U.S.
Tim Tebow and other Christians are now realizing that there is a cost for being a Christian in the U.S. Christians in the U.S. We have enjoyed the privilege of living in a country which allows us the freedom to worship and express our faith by God’s grace. However, that may all change at the rate that things are going right now.
We have not experienced the persecution that Christians have to dealt with in Africa, China, or Russia, however Christians in the U.S. will be challenged as never before because of their faith and the result of that may be the loss of a job; the right to adopt children; the loss of a church’s or religious institution’s tax exempt status; the opportunity for a Christian business, religious organization or church to rent facilities from the public sector; and obviously the right to share the Gospel in the public square. My friend Jesse Johnson over at the Cripplegate wrote an eye opening article on this very subject. Jesse talks about the coming persecution of Christians in the U.S. and how Christians should respond to it. It would be worth your time to read it.
Homosexuality and the Marginalization of Christianity
There is ample evidence within the last few years to show that the main intent of the homosexual movement and their liberal backers is to not only marginalize, but to eliminate the influence of conservative Bible believing Christians from the public sector. Years ago it started with atheists who wanted the removal of crosses and other Christian symbols, school prayer, and any reminder of Christianity from influencing the public sector. Then it was the push for the acceptance and normalization of homosexual marriage by the state and federal government which will more than likely happen. Now since it is evident that homosexual marriage will be accepted in this nation this has given liberal and homosexual activists the ammunition they need to openly challenge Christian institutions and businesses. Examples of these tactics have been evident in the last year. Secular colleges such as Vanderbilt have asked Christian student organizations to leave their campus because they refused to allow non-believers to join their leadership team in violation of their charter.
These actions have not only been limited to secular colleges. Christian institutions are now being challenged as well. One example of this is The Boy Scouts of America (which was founded on Christian principles and was once a Christian instituion) where liberal and homosexual activists have pressured major corporations, some of whose members sit on the board of the BSA, into pulling their financial support from the BSA since BSA does not allow membership to homosexual scouts or homosexual scout leaders.
Another example is the recent lawsuit against San Diego Christian Collegeby Teri James, a former employee who is suing the college for wrongful termination, discrimination, and violation of her civil rights. In this incident, James was fired by the college for fornication which is in violation of the college’s community covenant which, in summary, states that the employee of the college must believe in foundational Christian principles and that any violation of those Christian principles, including committing any type of fornication would result in that employee’s termination. The news conference which James had with her counsel, civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, is telling in that, Allred challenged this Christian college’s community covenant. She stated that it was not only discriminatory against women, but homosexuals as well. This is a major lawsuit. Don’t think for one minute that just because that employee agreed to sign that community covenant prior to her employment that will automatically exempt that college from any liability. It shouldn’t come as a shock that the liberal courts in California and especially the extremely liberal 9th Circuit Court in the future could possibly rule that this Christian college’s community covenant is discriminatory and in violation of James’ civil rights. If you aren’t convinced, remember what happend to California’s proposition 8 which was the marriage act bill? That case is now pending a decision in the U.S Supreme Court in November. If Allred wins this lawsuit or the Supreme Court rules against California’s propostion 8 this will be open season for any Christian educational institution, business, and yes churches.
What about Tim Tebow?
So what about Tim Tebow? Does his recent actions mean that he is not a Christian? I don’t think so. I think this incident shows Tim Tebow and other Christians that there is now a real tangible cost for being a Christian in the U.S., and Tim Tebow is the first of many casualties. Christianity is more than just making a public profession, wearing eye black with Scripture verses or Tebowing. Christianity is living what you believe, and sometimes that means standing up for the truth of God’s Word no matter what the cost.
Reports have indicated that Tim still believes in the exclusivity of the Gospel and the sanctity of marriage as stated by Pastor Jeffress. Tim just simply bowed out. I believe Christians should be gracious toward Tim. Why because there is no guarantee that we would not have acted in exactly the same manner if we were in Tim’s shoes. Remember Peter whom our Lord called the rock? Peter boasted that he would never leave our Lord’s side, but that’s exactly what he did when he denied Jesus three times. Our Lord eventually forgave and restored Peter, and Peter came back stronger than ever as evidenced by his bold preaching on the Day of Pentecost thereby fulfilling our Lord’s earlier proclamation that Peter would be a rock. I am hoping this will be the case for Tim Tebow, that he will learn and grow from this incident and come back stronger and more bolder in his faith standing for the truth in love.
(Tony Zabala is currently the Evangelism Coordinator for the Santa Monica Church)