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Attacking Gabby Douglas’s Faith? Really?

By David French1344283826000

It’s a sad commentary on modern life when I heard an exuberant 16-year-old thank God for the greatest success she might ever attain and immediately thought, “Someone’s going to attack her.”   As surely as the night follows day, here comes

As a Christian myself (albeit one of those really freaky papist kinds), I’ve often wondered what it is about Christians like Douglas that unnerves me so. The closest I’ve been able to figure it is that Douglas and her ilk seem to espouse a faith based on what is commonly referred to as “The God of Parking Spaces.” It’s the deity that grants wishes to those who ask nicely. Douglas is a girl who has described God as the figure who’s “waking me up every morning and keeping me safe in the gym every day.” She told People Thursday, “I was on the bus and it was raining and I thought, ‘It’s going to be a great day.’ My mom used to tell me when I was little, ‘When it rains, it’s God’s manifestation, a big day’s waiting to happen.’ I texted my mom, ‘It’s raining. You know what that means.’ It means that Russian girl is going down, I guess.

Thank you, Salon, for that oh-so-snarky takedown of a triumphant teenager.  What makes it even worse, of course, is that Gabby’s life has hardly been full of sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns before this moment.  She’s known more fear and heartbreak than the average teenager.  Her father’s an NCO in the Air Force, and her parents are divorcing under the strain of multiple deployments:

The pressure to perform to the best of her abilities without her father by her side was at times too much for ‘The Flying Squirrel.’

While living with her coach in Iowa, Gabby would often wake up with anxiety about her father at war.

She would rush to her computer and try to contact him on Skype.

‘[I] Just had bad days in the gym, thinking about my dad,’ she said to NBC before the Olympics.

‘I’m just like “Whoa, what if he doesn’t come back (from Iraq)?” I was just horrified. I prayed every night.’

While Gabby gave most Americans a moment of joy last week, her family has been sacrificing in deep and profound ways far, far from the spotlight and far from Salon’s condescending “tolerance.”  Had Salon done its homework, it would have seen that Gabby does not in fact simply pray to the “God of Parking Spaces” but instead to the God who watches over a father at war, to a God who provides comfort in the midst of family heartbreak, and yes to a God who gives good gifts to His Children including — very rarely — an Olympic Gold Medal.

If the writers at Salon can’t watch a child thank her Lord and Creator for a great day — maybe even her greatest day — without sniping at her faith, perhaps they are the ones who need to grow up.

This article is crosspoted at Patheos.

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