Because of the combination of his outspoken religious beliefs and his unconventional style of football, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow became a polarizing symbol of evangelical Christianity over the last few months.
However, he is widely admired for his off-season charity work in the Philippines, where he was born to a family of Christian missionaries. But the history of American missionary work in the island nation is far more sordid than the story told in the American media, which tends to take a rather naïve view of American conduct overseas.
After nearly 400 years as a Spanish colony, the Philippines is one of the most Catholic countries in the world, with 81% of the population recognizing Jesus as their personal savior. With abortion outlawed, birth control frowned upon, and gay marriage forbidden, it’s a far more Christian society than the U.S. Its birth rate, the highest in Asia, is one of the main drivers of poverty, as millions of Filipinos, including my mother, have emigrated to nearly every corner of the Earth to find jobs.
Whatever problems the Philippines have, a lack of Christianity isn’t one of them.
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