Harmless Ad or Propaganda for Evangelical World Domination?

I’d like to thank Betty White and Abe Vigoda for distracting a good portion of the viewing audience last night. Nothing like overt sexism and ageism to sidetrack people from the more insidious message of Focus on the Family. (Oh, relax. I laughed when I saw Betty splat in the mud, just like you did.)

Did you click over to FotF’s website to see the rest of the Tebow story? Or were you busy making fun of feminists for making such a flap over what seemed like such a benign ad?

Because the rest of the story is hardly benign, and was about much more than abortion. I know because I clicked.

Tim Tebow’s father starts off, explaining that while preaching in the mountains of Mindanao, in the southern Philippines, he was “weeping over the loss of millions of babies in America.”

So, in the face of desperate poverty, Bob Tebow focuses not on the children already in front of him, but potential children in his homeland. And his reaction?

And so I prayed, and I said, God, if you want another preacher in this world, give me Timmy. This was before he was conceived, and, uh, I’ll raise him to be a preacher. And so I went home and the next morning, at breakfast, shared with my family my prayer that I’d begun. And, uh, everybody joined in, and we started praying, by name, for God to give us Timmy.

Now that’s a really weird prayer. Think about it. God, I’m swimming in poverty and surrounded by people who have not yet accepted you as their lord and savior, but I’ve heard that back in America, women are having millions of abortions, so give me a boy child who I can train to be a preacher. And we’ll call him Timmy.

I’ve tried about 30 times, but a glitch in the tape prevents me from hearing exactly what Pam Tebow says at the beginning of her story. The glitch clears up in time for her to say that the doctor told her that she wasn’t pregnant, that the mass inside her was “fetal tissue.” Mr. Tebow steps in and says the doctor told them it was a tumor. But they are both very clear that the doctor told them to abort.

Huh? Which is it? Did the doctor tell you you were pregnant, but not so any longer, or that you weren’t pregnant, and instead had a growth?

One more inconsistency in this story wasn’t surprising, because the Tebows aren’t telling the truth in this video. They are telling The Truth.

The Tebows’ philosophy, their achingly sweet and seductive Truth, is that God will provide. All agency lies with him. The only choice mere mortals have to make is to accept that he is in control. When you accept this Truth, when you give it up to that little baby Jesus in the sky, you will find peace.

Pam Tebow blissfully explains that she was quite willing to die, if that was what it would take to bring Timmy into this world, because she knew God would take care of her family if she could not.

Easy to say now that the kid’s in his 20s.

The conversation turns, as we knew it had to eventually, to abortion. When the head of Focus on the Family asks the Tebows what they would say to a woman who finds herself pregnant, they turn it on.

They’d tell her she is loved, that God loves her, that he loves her baby, and that he will provide for her. Don’t worry, there are people just waiting to help you and support you, they say. You haven’t done anything wrong, and making the choice to have this baby makes you part of God’s plan.

Absolution. Love. Someone to take care of you, no matter what has happened.

Deep down, don’t we all really want that? Such an intoxicating message, so painfully tempting.

[The sad fact is that pregnancy crisis centers, which Pam Tebow mentions explicitly as a place women can go for help, can’t actually provide the same all-consuming love, support, and all-bills-paid experience that the Tebows imply pregnant women will find there. Hell, the one around the corner from Planned Parenthood wasn’t even open every day to let protesters into use the bathroom during the last 40 days of protesting campaign.]

You’re young. Perhaps you’ve been brought up in a Christian household, and by Christian, I mean one with strict parents who have made it clear that sex before marriage is a sin against God. And whoops, you do it anyway, and get pregnant.

No more powerful message exists for you than the one the Tebows offer. Grace. Forgiveness. Hundreds of open arms, hearts, and minds, ready to help.

Well, ready to help if you are the right kind of Christian.

This the Truth the Tebows don’t bring up explicitly. You have to be Their Kind of Christian® to benefit from this bountiful, all-bills-paid God.

At one point, Bob Tebow jokes that he asked God for a preacher, and got a quarterback. The Tebows go to great lengths to point out how thankful they are for the platform God has given Timmy to preach the gospel, that essentially, by making Timmy a quarterback, God made him a preacher. Televised college football is his pulpit, and those bible verses painted in his eye-black, his sermons.

You may think that seeing John 3:16 flash up on the screen during a football game does not a sermon make, but that just means you aren’t the audience, in the same way you aren’t the audience for all of the bangers throwing gang signs up at the windows of the jail downtown.

The evangelical right, like any street gang that runs around with no regard for the rule of law, is all about signs and symbols, a visible God. Those bible verses on Tebow’s cheeks are a message to the faithful, the already-converted, assurance that world domination has begun, and encouragement to become more active in the domination process.

Evangelical Christians have a clear mission—filling the world with more evangelicals. Birth’em if you can, convert the ones you can’t. That’s why Bob Tebow  prayed not for an end to poverty, no faith-strings attached, but a boy-child who could convert heathens.

So, people are making fun of feminists for overreacting to what was, on its face, a fairly benign 30-second spot that didn’t even mention abortion. But I’ll wager that if more people took the time to listen to the message behind this anti-choice stance, they’d feel as offended as many pro-choice women did.

Note that Bob Tebow didn’t say he was in the Philippines worrying about children there. Don’t be silly! Those were Muslim children. He was worried, as most anti-choice evangelicals are, that not enough actual or potential evangelicals are being born.

Reza Aslan, in his book How to Win a Cosmic War, makes the point that the war on terrorism is being fought not on two fronts, but two totally disconnected planes of reality that will never intersect. One side is fighting for the rule of law; the other, for a religious paradise on earth.

That’s where we are as far as evangelical Christians and those who support abortion rights, different religions, really any point of view that is the opposite from the evangelicals. We’re in parallel universes that would explode if they intersected. Evangelicals think their end goal is converting the world to their point of view. Period. Everyone. The rest of us, living here in the reality-based universe, know that won’t ever happen.

So that’s why many people were so upset. CBS gave a platform it has never made available to groups operating within the world of laws, like MoveOn.org, to a sectarian bunch of evangelicals whose anti-abortion stance is just the tip of their anti-woman, anti-democratic worldview.

Yes. I got all of that from a 30-second spot during the Superbowl. Just count me one more voice in the Cassandra chorus of feminists, lefties, atheists, and the like, sick of seeing the world view of  evangelical zealots go unchallenged in our national dialogue.

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