Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Keep dancing for Jesus, Ray Lewis!

By Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor
February 2, 2013 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
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
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says Steve Israel is right: Some Republicans encourage anti-Latino prejudice. But that kind of bias is not limited to the GOP.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 2323 GMT (0723 HKT)
Peggy Drexler counts the ways Phyllis Schlafly's argument that lower pay for women helps them nab a husband is ridiculous.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 2129 GMT (0529 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
April 15, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Danny Cevallos says families of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 need legal counsel
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1523 GMT (2323 HKT)
David Frum says Russia is on a rampage of mischief while Western leaders and Western alliances charged with keeping the peace hem and haw
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1155 GMT (1955 HKT)
Democrats need to show more political spine when it comes to the issue of taxes.
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
Donna Brazile recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as four presidents honored the heroes of the movement and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the law
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Elmer Smith remembers Chuck Stone, the legendary journalist from Philadelphia who was known as a thorn in the side of police and an advocate for the little guy
April 13, 2014 -- Updated 1856 GMT (0256 HKT)
Al Franken says Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, wants to acquire Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable provider. Should we be concerned?
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1522 GMT (2322 HKT)
Philip Cook and Kristin Goss says the Pennsylvania stabbing attack, which caused grave injury -- but not death, carries a lesson on guns for policymakers
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1906 GMT (0306 HKT)
Wikipedia lists 105 football movies, but all too many of them are forgettable, writes Mike Downey
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
John Sutter and hundreds of iReporters set out to run marathons after the bombings -- and learned a lot about the culture of running
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Timothy Stanley says it was cowardly to withdraw the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The university should have done its homework on her narrow views and not made the offer
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
Al Awlaki
Almost three years after his death in a 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to inspire violent jihadist extremists in the U.S, writes Peter Bergen
April 12, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
David Bianculli says Colbert is a smart, funny interviewer, but ditching his blowhard persona to take over the mainstream late-night role may cost him fans
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1731 GMT (0131 HKT)
Rep. Paul Ryan says the Republican budget places its trust in the people, not in Washington
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 2128 GMT (0528 HKT)
Aaron David Miller says Obama isn't to blame for Kerry's lack of progress in resolving Mideast talks
April 14, 2014 -- Updated 1522 GMT (2322 HKT)
David Weinberger says beyond focusing on the horrors of the attack a year ago, it's worth remembering the lessons it taught about strength, the dangers of idle speculation and Boston's solidarity
April 10, 2014 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
Katherine Newman says the motive for the school stabbing attack in Pennsylvania is not yet known, but research on such rampages turns up similarities in suspects and circumstances
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1839 GMT (0239 HKT)
Wendy Townsend says the Rattlesnake Roundup -- where thousands of pounds of snakes are killed and tormented -- is barbaric
ADVERTISEMENT