Pastor Rick Warren told me during an interview for “This Week” that the “controversy” over NFL quarterback Tim Tebow’s public expression of faith was a sign of American regression, saying there are “50 other things that are far more serious you should be concerned about than that kid kneeling down and thanking God.”
TAPPER: So all this talk about the culture wars makes me think of an unusual arena in which the culture wars have erupted, and that is the National Football League. And Tim Tebow and his very public expressions of his faith. I’ve heard some Christian leaders say that they think that his expressions of faith are too ostentatious, not private enough. Others say isn’t it wonderful to have a clean role model, and he and Jeremy Lin are exemplary representatives of the Christian faith. What do you think of the Tebow phenomenon? And what do you make of the fact that this has become controversial?
WARREN: The fact that this has become controversial shows how far we’re moving away from where America was 50 years ago, much less 100 or 200 years ago. When you have flowers — cut flowers, they’re beautiful for a while, but they eventually wilt because they’re no longer rooted in anything. America was founded by two sets of founding fathers, not just the political founders, Franklin and Madison and, you know, Jefferson and Washington.
But earlier, 100 years earlier, we had the Pilgrim fathers. And this nation was founded because people came here for religious freedom. They were genuinely godly people. And they worked hard and they believed in morality and ethics and they believed in the Bible. And that, for many, many years, formed a rooted foundation. Even people who weren’t, quote, “Christian,” knew that there was a general commitment to morality and that there was an idea of right and wrong…
I wish we could get back to the original meaning of tolerance, where we say, no, we’re not glossing over our differences. We have differences in morality, differences in theology, differences in politics, differences in economic systems. We have, and these are legitimate differences and we do not agree, and to pretend that we agree is not true. But so we get back to treating people with respect and dignity and even love and friendship.
I have many friends who totally disagree with me, and I disagree with some of the things they believe and do, but they’re still friends. And the fact that Tebow would get criticized for kneeling and praying — I could give you 15 or 50 other things you should be more worried about in that coliseum than a kid kneeling down to thank God that he played good. I can give you 50 other things that are far more serious you should be concerned about than that kid kneeling down and thanking God.