When Josh Hamilton says, “It’s a god thing,” he’s applauded for standing up for his faith. When Tim Tebow kneels down and prays, 43% of people who know of Tebow think that god helps him win. And when Muhammad Ali cited his faith as the impetus for his conscientious objection to the draft, America celebrates his principled stand. Oh, wait. I guess that’s not exactly what happened.
You can argue that Ali is different because of patriotism or the like but it’s hard to say that patriotism alone accounts for what happened to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf while playing for the Denver Nuggets. The truth of the matter is, despite our vaunted “Freedom of Religion,” the expression of that freedom really only seems to apply to Protestant Christians and the occasional Catholic. And let’s face it, if you ask the question “What if Tim Tebow were Muslim?” you already know the answer. God help him if he were an out-and-proud atheist.