Hey, anyone want to fire up the ol' Tim Tebow culture war again? It's been, what, three days? Well, here's a "meet the new guy" story in today's New York Times called "Tebow, a Careful Evangelical." It is a generally inoffensive look at the quarterback so beloved by people who collect Hummel figurines. Until we get to this part:

The furthest he has delved into politics came during the 2010 Super Bowl, when he and his mother, Pam, starred in a commercial paid for by Focus on the Family. The ad featured Pam making allusions to the story of her difficult pregnancy with "Timmy" while she and her husband, Bob, worked in the Philippines. Doctors recommended an abortion, she said. Instead, she gave birth to Tim.

The ad stirred debate about the appropriateness of political messages during the Super Bowl. Again, Tebow saw something bigger at play.

"They did a survey about three weeks after that commercial aired," he said in 2010. "And that survey said that five and a half million people, because of that, changed their stance on pro-life."

My position on Tebow has long been that Tebow himself isn't terribly divisive. What's truly divisive is the inability or unwillingness of the media covering him to speak plainly about what he is and what he does, both as a quarterback and as an evangelical Christian (one who—though it rarely gets mentioned—was brought up in a church on the distant edges of American Protestantism and who was raised by a father with some fringy ideas of his own).

"The furthest he has delved into politics" is putting things very mildly. That ad was Tebow jumping into abortion politics with both feet. It was Tebow doing a half-gainer with a full twist into politics. He was up to his brush cut in politics. The ad was anti-woman and anti-science and outright quackery besides, and yet it got gussied up in the press as an irreproachable expression of earnest belief, which is to say, anything but politics. The debate was about "the appropriateness of political messages during the Super Bowl" only because we were too chickenshit to talk about the actual content of the Tebows' commercial. Apparently we still are.


And that last part? About the survey? If, say, Chad Ochocinco had made a claim as self-evidently ridiculous as that—if he had said that a Nike commercial of his had changed 5.5 million minds—the Times's eyes would've rolled permanently into the back of its head.

[NYT; photo via Getty]