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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.

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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.

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

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