Though I disagree on a number of matters with the “Religious Right,” I am in agreement with them in principle that there is a growing (though subtle) hostility towards religious expressions in American popular culture. This emanates, unfortunately, from some who call themselves progressives.
Case in point is the seemingly national media celebration of homosexual basketball player Jason Collins, who just came out of the closet. His praises are being sung as being a brave role model for gay youth and a sign of our national movement towards “equality.”
President Obama even contacted Collins then mentioned how proud he was of him at a White House press conference yesterday. I wish Obama would visit Detroit proper or called community leaders regarding the democratic voices of Detroiters being stripped through emergency management. That, however, is for another blog post.
Collins is a professional athletic, who made a public proclamation of his lifestyle. He has that right and is being bear-hugged by many political progressives for his exercising that right. When NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, however, openly professed his Christianity in his professional capacity, he was criticized by some of the same folks. Moreover, some of these folks called him a hypocrite.
Hence, we have two people who are professional athletes, who have been given a public platform. One of them being an obscure NBA journeyman, who average basketball fans knew little to nothing about until he came out of the closet. The other being a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, who had a storybook NFL rookie season that now is most known for making short prayers during games (tebowing). The former is now the flavor of the month while the latter is virtually persona non-grata.
There is a growing movement in America, which is much larger in Europe, for the removal of expression of organized religion in pop culture. So a “spiritual” gay basketball player with a less than stellar career becomes the symbol of progress and equality in America while the Christian quarterback is chided to keep his religion as a private matter, not display it publicly. In other words, I view these recent events as it’s cool to openly celebrate gayness as being a symbol of advancement while seeing the relegation of the open celebration of religion, especially if its theology is conservative.
Ball players are given too much cultural deference in our society to begin with. I am not a fan of any of them being elevated as roles models from Michael Jordan to Ben Roethlisberger. My main point, however, is that the recent fawning over Collins’ coming out party is a subtle reminder that there indeed is a culture war under way in America led by those who uphold obtuse humanism and (pseudo) relativism on those who believe that the sacred has the right to be in the public, not just private, space in society.