Headline: Did God help Gabrielle Douglas win?
Subhead: The gold medalist is a teenager of deep faith and gratitude — and that can be a little unnerving
Unnerving because Gabby tweets about her faith. God forbid. She lives her faith. How horrible. If she were a Muslim who found strength in faith, she would be championed. But she’s not. She’s a Christian. How passe.
Mary Elizabeth Williams, a self proclaimed papist, writes with as much disdain as she can muster:
Gabby Douglas is now officially a star. When she won the individual gold medal in women’s gymnastics in London Thursday, the breakout darling of the 2012 games, she immediately found herself a celebrity worthy of a cereal box. If her performance in the women’s individual all-around didn’t blow your mind, you cannot possibly have been paying attention. Yet after her victory, one of the first responses that truly resonated for me was from a colleague who noted, “I would like her more if she were not so, so, so into Jesus.” Which raises the question – what is Jesus going to do now for Gabby Douglas’ career?
Douglas isn’t exactly the only outspoken Christian in America – or even the only high-profile Christian athlete. So jam-packed is this year’s roster with them that Douglas didn’t even make the cut for the Christian Post’s “10 Christian Athletes to Watch.”But her newly minted status as a champion and her unguarded outspokenness about her faith are going to give her a new platform from which to preach. After her win Thursday, Douglas said, “I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to him and the blessings fall down on me.”
She’s a 16-year-old with both deep faith and profound gratitude, a girl who yesterday tweeted from the Psalms to her followers, “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me” and Friday sent out a retweet from the Faith in God feed. And that clearly authentic image of a hardworking girl with strong values makes her a natural icon to her fellow Christians, just as it makes the somewhat less faithful uncomfortable.
Emphasis my own. Obviously Williamson counts herself among the “uncomfortable.” And my, how uncomfortable she is:
We are a nation that is lousy with Christians — a fair number of whom are not nearly as nice as Gabby Douglas. A lot of them aren’t super-clear on the whole “freedom of religion” thing and can get pretty gung-go about trying to shut down people with different beliefs. A lot of them are insistent that everybody in the world should conform to what they know for an absolute fact is the one and only truth. So even when Douglas is merely expressing her personal philosophy, posting #christmotivation quotes in her Twitter feed or talking about how she meditates daily on Scripture, there’s always that lurking hint of proselytism. Dear Christians: It’s a fine line between sharing your beliefs and selling them. And there’s something else too.
But there obviously isn’t a fine line between being obnoxious in denouncing the faith of others and raking a 16 year-old girl through the coals over her religious beliefs because she makes you feel uncomfortable.
I’ve watched so much craziness unfold this week on Facebook over the Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. People I thought to be rational went nuts calling out others (by name!) for their support of “hate chicken” by arguing that they believe in a loving God. I do, too, but I also believe in a facist-free country that allows others the right to free speech. Apparently some speech is more free than others and “the right to not be made uncomfortable” is tolerated much more than the right to express one’s faith.
That’s what makes me uncomfortable.