Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Keep dancing for Jesus, Ray Lewis!

By Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor
updated 12:44 PM EST, Sat February 2, 2013
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis invokes his faith often.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis invokes his faith often.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roland Martin: Why do people criticize Ray Lewis for invoking God?
  • Martin: It's because some individuals in the media see religious people as weird
  • He says but if something bad happens, those same people in the media will seek God too
  • Martin: We should not ridicule athletes who choose to be public about their faith

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- When President Barack Obama addressed the nation the day 20 children were killed in Newtown, Connecticut, he told the nation "that we are praying for them."

The moment "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts announced she had to undergo a bone marrow transplant, many prayers were directed her way.

So why is it that sports fans are upset and bothered that Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis consistently invokes God and Jesus, and recites Bible scriptures?

Roland Martin
Roland Martin

We saw a lot of criticism toward Tim Tebow for the same thing. Criticize him aplenty for not being able to throw the football, but hating on him because of his faith? Please, sit down.

Amid 'storybook' ending, Ray Lewis is still controversial

Olympian Lolo Jones was on ESPN's "First Take" Friday and she said that it's interesting that someone else will get more positive attention for releasing a sex tape while she is ridiculed for saying she'll remain a virgin until she gets married.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



I'll be honest, a lot of the criticism comes from individuals in the media who see religious people as weird and kooks. No, not all members of the media, but I can say in my experience as a reporter for 21 years that I have heard a lot of anti-religious, and especially anti-Christian, stuff from my media brothers and sisters.

In individual discussions working at newspapers, radio stations, TV and online outlets, folks have ridiculed the religious for having convictions that don't line up with others' political beliefs. Yet what is so funny is that when those same individuals encountered a health crisis, had marital problems or issues with their children or were about to lose their job, they were the first ones to seek the Bible believer out for prayer.

This really shouldn't come as a shock, because that's how a lot of Americans are. When we don't think we need to have a relationship with God, we'll blow off praying or going to church. Just let the good times roll, huh?

Ray Lewis' road to redemption

But just wait until something bad happens. Man, we'll flock to the nearest church, mosque or synagogue; break out the prayer beads; and blow the dust off of the Bible in order to be comforted.

Remember the night of September 11, 2001? You would have been hard-pressed to find a seat in a house of worship. We were a prayer nation on that day, when nearly 3,000 of our brothers and sisters were killed in terrorist attacks.

It doesn't bother me one bit to see an athlete choose to be public with their faith. God bless 'em. And if another player makes the decision to not be as public, God bless them, too.

The ridicule with being a strong person of faith comes with the territory. Heck, if Jesus was mocked in his day, it's no shock Ray Lewis, Tim Tebow or anyone else today will be ridiculed.

But the key is to remain steadfast and strong. Jesus told his followers in Matthew 28:19 to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations."

Opinion: Who is God backing in the Super Bowl?

Now before there was a Ray Lewis, there was a Reggie White. Just like Ray, Reggie was trashed for his religious convictions. He was told to just shut up and play football. But if God gave Reggie the gifts to do what he did, why not give Him the glory?

As a devout Christian, I will not bend, and will stand strong in the faith when it comes to my religious convictions. Afraid to say Jesus on TV? Nope. In fact, the first four specials I hosted on CNN in 2007 were all religious specials. We may lose jobs, money, fame and public glory, but as long as my relationship with God stays intact, I'm not bothered by the haters.

Does God want the Ravens to beat the 49ers because of Ray Lewis? No. Are you betting on the Ravens because you think Ray plays on Team Jesus? You better recognize that God is no bookie. We can all appreciate every player for what they bring to the table, and if they are believers in the faith, then God bless them. Win or lose.

Ray Lewis and other players of faith have a tremendous platform. More than 100 million people will probably be watching on Sunday. If someone makes a decision to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior because they were inspired by Ray Lewis exhortation of his faith on Super Bowl Sunday, great. If someone just wants to watch the game, no problem.

But I will be thankful that a man who is undaunted by his critics will be unapologetic in professing his faith. Ray Lewis has faced the depths of evil in his past, and like Saul he went through his own Damascus Road Experience and has been transformed.

No matter the faith or the occupation, there is nothing wrong with emerging from darkness and becoming a shining bright light.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:45 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
LZ Granderson says the cyber-standing ovation given to Robyn Lawley, an Australian plus-size model who posted unretouched photos, shows how crazy Americans' notions of beauty have become
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
A crisis like the Gaza conflict or the surge of immigrants can be an opportunity for a lame duck president, writes Julian Zelizer
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Carol Costello says the league's light punishment sent the message that it didn't consider domestic violence a serious offense
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Danny Cevallos says saggy pants aren't the kind of fashion statement protected by the First Amendment.
updated 2:52 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Margaret Hoover says some GOP legislators support a state's right to allow same-sex marriage and the right of churches, synagogues and mosques not to perform the sacrament
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Megan McCracken and Jennifer Moreno say it's unacceptable for states to experiment with new execution procedures without full disclosure
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Priya Satia says today's drones for bombardment and surveillance have their roots in the deadly history of Western aerial control of the Middle East that began in World War One
updated 12:35 PM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Jeff Yang says it's great to see the comics make an effort at diversifying the halls of justice
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Rick Francona says the reported artillery firing from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle
updated 2:22 PM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Paul Callan says the fact that appeals delay the death penalty doesn't make it an unconstitutional punishment, as one judge ruled
updated 6:25 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Pilot Robert Mark says it's been tough for the airline industry after the plane crashes in Ukraine and Taiwan.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Jennifer DeVoe laments efforts to end subsidies that allow working Americans to finally afford health insurance.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
Ruti Teitel says assigning a costly and humiliating "collective guilt" to Germany after WWI would end up teaching the global community hard lessons about who to blame for war crimes
updated 8:45 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
John Sutter responds to criticism of his column on the ethics of eating dog.
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Frida Ghitis says it's tempting to ignore North Korea's antics as bluster but the cruel regime is dangerous.
updated 2:50 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
To the question "Is Putin evil?" Alexander Motyl says he is evil enough for condemnation by people of good will.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Laurie Garrett: Poor governance, ignorance, hysteria worsen the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Patrick Cronin and Kelley Sayler say the world is seeing nonstate groups such as Ukraine's rebels wielding more power to do harm than ever before
updated 6:05 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ukraine ambassador Olexander Motsyk places blame for the MH17 tragedy squarely at the door of Russia
updated 7:42 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 2:53 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Les Abend says, with rockets flying over Tel Aviv and missiles shooting down MH17 over Ukraine, a commercial pilot's pre-flight checklist just got much more complicated
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Mark Kramer says Russia and its proxies have a history of shooting down civilian aircraft, often with few repercussions
updated 12:37 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
Gerard Jacobs says grieving families and nations need the comfort of traditional rituals to honor the remains of loved ones, particularly in a mass disaster
updated 10:13 AM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT