By Matt Higgins
DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has seemingly made himself the poster boy for Christianity, praying on the field after a win, putting Bible verses on his eye black during games and even starring in an anti-abortion ad during the Super Bowl, but one atheist group believes he’s doing it all for personal gain.
American Atheists — a New Jersey based group that promotes the separation of church and state — tells CBSDenver.com that the only reason Tebow is popular is because he constantly injects his Christianity among the public.
“When we watch a sporting event, we are all united for our team,” says David Silverman, president of American Atheists. “Tebow takes religion and injects it into the mix and divides the fan base.”
Silverman states that Tebow’s repeated references to God into his post-game comments after a win is “bad for football.
“(Religion) injects the divisive force into football,” Silverman says. “Why in the world are we talking about religion when we are talking about football?”
Tebow’s popularity rose during the season with his improbable comebacks, the latest coming in a thrilling 29-23 overtime playoff win against the Pittsburgh Steelers after an 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas.
The fascination over Tebow officially reached national heights when people across the U.S. started “Tebowing,” mimicking Tebow’s sideline prayers.
Silverman believes that Tebow is “full of crap” when he publically displays his Christianity on the football field and said his prayers are for publicity.
“It’s not that Tebow prays, it’s that he waits for the cameras to be on him to do it,” Silverman says. “He’s totally faking.”
As some criticize Tebow for his overt Christianity, the Christian Coalition believes the Broncos quarterback is being mocked for his religious stance.
“I think that atheists just need to get over it,” Michele Combs, spokeswoman for the Christian Coalition, tells CBS Denver. “He’s a Christian giving his ability to God. What’s wrong with that?”
Combs goes on to say that she believes people embrace his show of faith.
“I think more positive has come from this,” she says. “Young athletes look up to him.”
Silverman says if Tebow is truly a Christian, he would pray in private, not public.
“It is not surprising Tebow ignores Matthew 6:5 in which Jesus says, ‘When you pray, do not pray like the hypocrites in the street,’” Silverman says. “They pray to be seen praying. Pray in the closet.”