Over the last few months, liberal entertainers, as well as sports reporters, have been attacking various high profile Americans simply because they are Christian. And this type of behavior is something that Fox News commentator Bruce Riley Ashford thinks must stop.
Ashford cites several people in the news who have become targets merely because they are Christian. For instance, early in February sports commentator Tony Dungy was attacked by sports writers because he often includes his Christian beliefs in his own sports analysis. Vice President Mike Pence has been slammed for his Christian beliefs throughout his first year in Washington, but especially during this year’s Winter Olympics. And former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has been a target of ridicule since he first appeared in the national sports spotlight.
In his February 16 op-ed, Ashford slams those who think that being a practicing Christian is a “sign of mental illness.”
Ashford notes that “panelists on The View on ABC TV mocked Vice President Mike Pence for his Christian faith, calling it ‘scary’ and even saying that his religious beliefs are a kind of ‘mental illness,'” he wrote. “Such comments are an insult to everyone who holds sincere religious beliefs.”
The Vice President slammed ABC for its attack on Christianity. During an interview with Axios, the VP said, “It’s just simply wrong for ABC to have a television program that expresses that kind of religious intolerance.” He added that the whole discussion shows how “out of touch” some in the mainstream media is.
Ashford agrees with the vice president.
“Pence is right,” Ashford wrote. “No matter what you think of his politics, his views on public policy issues, or his performance in elective office, he should not be criticized for his Christian beliefs.”
Ashford also noted the many other media personalities who are attacking Pence for his religious beliefs, and criticized those who put “the worst possible spin” on the VP’s faith.
“What the media and critics haven’t done, and won’t do,” Ashford added, “is to point out that their attacks on Pence are part of a larger and very disturbing trend in American life – an ugly form of prejudice called Christian shaming.”
Ashford went on to recount the “Christian shaming” of sports commentator Tony Dungy and former NFL player Tim Tebow. And it’s something that Ashford thinks needs to stop.
The Fox opinionist insisted that there are two things that Americans must understand in this debate.
“First, there is nothing in the world wrong with being Christian in public,” Ashford said. “For Christians, our beliefs are deeply held convictions that should shape our identities, organize our lives, and motivate us to be good neighbors and citizens.”
“And why should NBC or its viewers care if Tebow, Dungy or Foles identify as Christians? Would they have the same reaction to somebody on television who identified as Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish? As an atheist?” Ashford added.
Ashford reminded readers that the founding fathers enshrined religious liberty into our system for an important reason saying, “there is nothing wrong with our quest for religious liberty.”
With his second reason, Ashford claimed that even if they don’t realize it, these critics are practicing their own form of religion in public:
That’s right. Each and every American, from the outspoken Christian to the dyed-in-the-wool atheist, has a “religion,” whether they use the term or not. Something or somebody sits at the center of the lives of everyone, shaping their identities, organizing their lives, and guiding their views of right and wrong. That something or someone functions as the god of that person’s life.
In other words, every human being ascribes ultimate worth to something or someone – to some person, ideal or ideology. If it is not God, it may be sex, money or power. Or anything else. Fill in the blank.
“Every person is religious in this sense of the word,” Ashford said, “and every person’s functional religion will exercise a significant influence on his or her public life.”
The writer ended his piece urging America to stop shaming people for their religious beliefs and for articulating those beliefs in public.
Indeed, Ashford praised those brave enough to state their religious ideas in public saying, “let’s start admiring them for putting their cards on the table, letting the rest of us see what it is that motivates them, and what makes all of us who we are.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.