More than a week after appearing at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., former football coach and NBC Sports analyst Tony Dungy was still taking heat from the corporate media for not only his pro-life views but for his criticism of some of the more disturbing trends in contemporary culture.
NBC Out, the LGBT section of NBC News, accused Dungy of spreading a “transphobic myth” regarding students who identify as cats and did an investigative deep dive into his former tweets, accusing him of having “anti-LGBTQ history.” This included, among other things, tweets “critical of same-sex marriage, homosexuality and the LGBTQ ‘lifestyle.’”
Dungy’s employer wasn’t the only voice attacking him for expressing his Christian beliefs. The pile-on has come from many corners of leftist corporate media, including folks from CNN, The Washington Post, MSN, and The Nation, among others. What this media circus represents, at its core, is an arresting, if increasingly obvious, truth: The corporate media want to silence Christians from speaking out about their faith in the public square.
Media Reveal Their Hatred for Christianity
The latest dust-up over Dungy was tied to his willingness to speak out against abortion at the March for Life. ESPN panelist and Washington Post columnist Kevin Blackistone accused Dungy of being “regressive and intolerant” and of being associated with “zealots.” (That’s a bit risible, given that Blackistone called the national anthem a “war anthem” and uses his WaPo column to relentlessly push radical racial ideologies.) Blackistone further ominously warned Dungy that appearing at an upcoming evangelical men’s conference in March “could be hazardous to his career.”
Threats against Dungy’s career as co-host of NBC’s “Football Night in America” have come from other sources, too. As The Federalist reported on Jan. 23, journalist Keith Olbermann tweeted: “Dear @nbcsports – if you have any remaining concern for your operational reputation, fire Tony Dungy now. He is using you.” Dave Zirin, sports editor at The Nation, in turn, accused Dungy of being a “right-wing zealot” and “anti-gay bigot.” The “anti-gay” slander stems from a tweet Dungy posted about a discredited claim that schools would provide litter boxes to kids identifying as cats (still, even if that’s not true, let’s admit that schools indulging kids who identify as animals is ridiculous, stupid, and shameful).
Yet, in even further evidence of the media’s disdain for outspoken Christians, many pundits have exploited the occasion to further attack him over his religious beliefs as they relate to sexuality. An article published by MSN accused Dungy of being “cruel” and “anti-LGBT” and said that “what Dungy shared was not an effective apology. Not even close.” An op-ed at USA Today claimed Dungy was guilty of “bigotry” and “ignorance” and implied he was responsible for poor mental health and suicidal ideation among LGBT youth. Another op-ed at U.S. News & World Report likewise slandered Dungy as a bigot and asserted that “no network should give him a voice.”
Part of a Broader Campaign to Silence Christians
Though the media’s treatment of Dungy is contemptible, it is by no means unusual. Any Christian celebrity who publicly shares his or her beliefs regarding what the Bible teaches about life or sexuality risks censure. The list of Christian celebrities in sports who have been targeted for their pro-life opinions includes Steph Curry, Joe Burrow, Tim Tebow, and Jim Harbaugh.
And when it comes to the Bible’s teachings on sexuality, former pitcher Curt Schilling was fired by ESPN for his Christian views on transgenderism. The list of athletes forced to apologize for “homophobic” or “transphobic” social media posts — or even liking such posts — includes Lamar Jackson, Trea Turner, Kyler Murray, and Rudy Gobert, among many others. Pro-LGBT websites invested untold hours digging into the social media profiles of athletes to uncover suspected anti-LGBT posts going back to grade school. One fan took the trouble to find 75 such “homophobic” tweets by more than 40 athletes between 2009 and 2013.
Granted, some of the above individuals were not necessarily attacked because they were espousing beliefs stemming from their Christian faith. But the point remains that any celebrity who publicly declares their opposition to abortion, gay marriage, or transgenderism risks backlash, cancellation, and even loss of employment. It is no exaggeration to say that being a prominent Christian in sports or the entertainment industry comes with tremendous dangers.
Pray for the Dungys of America
Anyone who has been paying attention over the last couple of decades should already be somewhat aware of what I described above. We know that the only Christian celebrities allowed to publicly discuss their faith are those whose beliefs align with the latest manifestation of the Democratic Party’s talking points. If your version of Christianity happens to believe abortion is an objective good or any manner of sexual behavior or so-called gender identity is to be celebrated, preach away!
Yet for those still holding to orthodox, historic Christian teachings on such matters, there are little means of escape if you make those beliefs publicly known. For that reason, the Tony Dungys of the world require our prayers. He has taken an admirable, impressive stance that very well may mean the end of his professional career. Others like him have already paid the price. Those remaining will need the grace of the Holy Spirit to persevere in the face of such powerful opposition. And those quiet faithful flying under the radar need our prayers, too, so that they might find the courage (and prudence) to state uncomfortable, unpopular truths when Christ calls them to it.
For it seems inevitable in this cultural climate that they will all eventually be called upon to decide whether the adulation of the crowd or Christ matters most.