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 11:16 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
updated 9:40 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
updated 5:53 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
updated 7:05 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Jeff Yang says the tech sector's diversity numbers are embarrassing and the big players need to do more.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Ed Bark says in this Emmy year, broadcasters CBS, ABC and PBS can all say they matched or exceeded HBO. These days that's no small feat
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 9:05 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT