Many readers are rushing to defend Tebow. One writes:
Good lord, Andrew. Yes, Jesus said that, but he also prayed publicly. The point is that prayer is about the relationship between you and God, and NOT about what other people see or don't see in it. I don't see any evidence that Tebow is doing it for the reputation/holy appearance. People often pray before or after significant moments; Tebow's moments happen to be rather public. I don't think Jesus is prohibiting prayer if you are seen. I think he's endorsing prayer as a private ritual, something that Tebow's manner certainly conveys, however many cameras see it.
Here's my evidence. A prayer can be completely silent, conducted without any public display, let alone in front of a massive stadium on one knee. I don't doubt Tebow's sincerity and, as I wrote, I have no problem with him doing that, since others engage in far more elaborate celebrations after a touchdown, but there's a gratuitous display here that seems very counter to Jesus' directive to humility, privacy and simplicity in prayer. Another writes:
You seem to think that Tim Tebow, in bowing and praying publicly, "repudiates" Jesus' command in Matthew 6:1 ("Be careful not to practice your 'acts of righteousness' before men."). Having grown up in a fundamentalist subculture, perhaps I can explain why, in Tebow's mind, he's not.
We were always encouraged to pray publicly, especially before meals in restaurants, Matthew 10:32-33 being the proof text: "Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven."
Now it may very well be that given the historical context of each of these passages, neither of these scriptures are applicable to "Tebowing." But that doesn't stop us from trying to make them so. We all bring our biases, personal and cultural, to our readings of scripture. Perhaps Catholics value humility more than Southern Baptists. Perhaps Tim is concerned that if he fails to use this very large platform of his to "spread the word," Jesus will hold him in account.
Bottom line: we all pick and choose "cafeteria style" scriptures that, more often than not, tend to support our already-established views. So it has always been. "There is nothing new under the sun."
Another sends the above video and writes:
Football is a deeply religious community, and Tebow's Christianity is likely no more evangelical than the many former professional football players who are now pastors, and his Christianity is likely no more devout than people like NFL star Troy Polamalu, an orthodox Christian convert who has given interviews maintaining his belief in constant prayer, even while he is playing football. Football culture drips with Christianity, with players leading teammates in prayer on Sundays after virtually every game. Tim Tebow isn't even the religious or spiritual leader of his football team (as evidenced by this short video of the prayer circle after a recent game, only televised because of Tebow's presence, with his teammate Brian Dawkins actually leading the prayer).
I am a long time fan of the Denver Broncos and also a staunch atheist. I was not thrilled when the Broncos drafted him, partly because we gave up a lot to get him … and his overt religiosity. But he has somewhat won me over since he became the starting quarterback and the team now has an unexpected winning streak. From all reports, he has an incredible work ethic and the players really rally behind him, especially when he is compared to Kyle Orton (whom he replaced). Tebow's got that comeback drive that reminds many fans of John Elway. He has already set up charitable foundation that he is funding (he apparently donated all of his signing bonus to charity). The latest effort is building a hospital in the Philippines.
Good for him. One more:
I'm a life long Broncos fan. I remember when Tebow was drafted by the Broncos I only knew him as the guy who appeared in that pro-life commercial during the Super Bowl. I was not looking forward to having some right-wing nut job as the QB for my team.
Now a year later I'm rooting for the guy, and not just because he's been helping to win games for my team. The guy has shown an amazing fortitude in dealing with the spotlight and controversy over the last year. Yes, he's very religious, but other than dishing out "god bless" routinely and praying on the sidelines, he's really the kind of religious person I like: somebody who lives by example. He's not out there judging people or telling others how to live their lives; he's living a good life, showing strength of character, and a faith in himself, his team, and, yes, his God. I wish that the very religious in this country would take a page out of Tebow's book.