Michael Vick’s recent statement that he has “found Jesus” is drawing quite differing reactions. On the one hand, some people doubt his sincerity, while others are asserting that he needs to be reached out to.
In his statement after pleading guilty to charges that he ran an illegal dog-fighting ring, Vick told reporters: "I'm upset with myself and, you know, through this situation I found Jesus and asked him for forgiveness and turned my life over to God."
Catholic League President Bill Donohue says that he sees these public testimonials as opportunity.
"I think people need to reach out to Vick," Donohue told Cybercast News. "I think what he did was disgusting, but if somebody says he wants to reach out to Jesus and reach out to God, it's time to call him on it."
He also cautioned against what he calls a "piling on" of critics condemning Vick in disproportion to his crimes.
"Some people want to destroy him, to squeeze every ounce of blood out of this guy," said Donohue. "When people do reach out as Vick is doing and he's asking for forgiveness, you have to take him at his word until such time as he proves disingenuous."
During his college football career, Vick was known to pound on his shoulder pads and point skyward after he scored a touchdown, a signal to thank God for the score. Vick also has a history of professing his Christian faith to reporters. Cybercast News Service discovered at least seven such quotes in various media.
Tim Wildmon, president of the conservative American Family Association, is skeptical.
"It gets personal in trying to understand someone's faith at times so they may say the right things, but you don't really know what they mean by it," he told Cybercast News Service. “You wonder, what's the motivation for making a public statement? Is it sincere, or are they doing it to gain something from it?"