Tim Tebow and CNN’s Christophobic Bias
CNN was founded by Ted Turner, who turned his back on faith when he was young because of the problem of evil. Turner apparently believes he can buy his way into heaven, and is famous for saying “Christianity is for losers.” So it was a bit of a surprise when CNN began running a religion page on its website.
But the actual content of that page is no surprise at all.
Consider for example CNN’s recent story, “Explain it to me: John 3:16.” Inspired by the message written on Tim Tebow’s now-famous eye black, the article begins with an intriguing observation: “The completion [of an 80 yard pass] gave Tebow, an outspoken evangelical Christian whose penchant for last-minute heroics have given him a reputation as a miracle worker, 316 passing yards for the game. His ten completions averaged 31.6 yards a piece.” (It gets better. According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, it turns out the final quarter-hour overnight television rating for the Broncos-Steelers game was . . . 31.6.)
Remarkable coincidences, for sure, and who are we to say there’s no divine intent behind them? Tebow’s consistently devout approach to media interviews combined with, shall we say, “interesting” stats like these, have driven the words “John 3:16″ to the top of Google’s search ratings in the hours after Denver’s last game. Maybe Tim Tebow is nothing less than God’s own SEO.
So when Ted Turner’s legacy posted their 3:16 piece, we clicked on the link hoping to find yet more evidence that Tebow’s combination of excellence and consistent habit of giving the glory to God had yielded yet another “miracle”: a fair and balanced explanation of Christianity’s central message.
Sadly, it was not to be.
CNN began well, explaining the reason for America’s sudden fascination with the Bible verse, offering an accurate explanation for the verse in context in the Scriptures, and even giving a good summary of the doctrinal points within the verse. (“God loves humankind, man has sinned and is destined for eternal punishment, but eternal live [sic] awaits all who believe in God’s son, Jesus.”)
They should have stopped there.
Instead, out of the millions of stories they could have told about the way this verse has influenced human culture, we inexplicably found ourselves reading about Rollen Stewart, a man with obvious mental health issues, who used to wear a rainbow colored Afro wig and a tee-shirt with “John 3:16″ to national sporting events. Stewart became more and more fanatical in his efforts to get on camera, until finally he kidnapped a hotel maid at gunpoint in a nine-hour standoff with police, during which he posted — you guessed it — the words “John 3:16″ in the hotel windows.
So the article begins by discussing the accomplishments of a man who responds to John 3:16 by spending so much time on missions trips and speaking engagements at hospitals, churches and schools that he has “no time for a girlfriend right now.” (And that was before he went pro, and earned enough money to start building children’s hospitals in the developing world.) Then CNN ends the article with a story about a clearly unbalanced man who happened to choose the verse as a kind of obsessive-compulsive mantra. As if the two someone belong together.
And the final words of this fair and balanced treatment of Christianity’s defining Scripture?
“Despite Stewart’s story, many sports fans continue the tradition of evangelizing at sports games by holding up John 3:16 on placards.”
“Despite Stewart’s story”?
Apparently, CNN, founded in 1980 by just one man, would have Christians cease and desist from a 2,000 year old habit of using the media to spread their message. And he would have them take that extraordinary step because of the unbalanced rants of just one man.
With Ted Turner in mind, we suggest CNN consider doing likewise.