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Home > Today's Christian > People of Faith > Profiles

Today's Christian, July/August 2006

Elisabeth Hasselbeck
Sharing Her View
How The View's Elisabeth Hasselbeck and her NFL husband, Tim, keep their faith and fame in perspective. Plus: Elisabeth's tips for sharing your beliefs with the unconvinced.
by Dan Ewald

She's the baby of the bunch on ABC television's morning chatfest The View, while he's the second-string quarterback for the New York Giants. Not your typical Christian couple by any stretch, but they're not afraid to share their faith with others.

Elisabeth and Tim Hasselbeck met at Boston College, where Tim majored in administrative studies, when he wasn't playing football, and Elisabeth studied design and eventually worked as a shoe designer for Puma. That is, until the second season of the hit reality show Survivor came calling and turned her life around. In November of 2003, Elisabeth (née Falarski) beat the odds and parlayed her 15 minutes of fame as a Survivor contestant into a bona fide broadcasting career as a co-host on The View. Today's Christian chatted with the Hasselbecks from their Manhattan apartment as their baby, Grace, cooed in the background.

Tell us about your journey of faith.
Elisabeth: Both my mom and dad operated on a strong faith base. Faith was pretty much embossed in my brain, but it's been stronger at some times than others. In high school you start to question things. I think any institution you're part of for a long time, if you don't start to question it, you're too complacent. I think the famous quote "The unexamined life is not worth living" is absolutely true.

Tim: Growing up I was always around [Christianity] and I didn't realize, like a lot of Christians, that I was allowing God only in certain areas of my life. In school or football, I had no problem praying, asking for God's help. In other areas, I felt He didn't need to know about this or that.

"I've learned so much from these women. they've made me clarify my thoughts. being challenged by them is an unbelievable gift."—Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Four or five years ago I was playing in the NFL Europe. It was one of the most difficult times of my life because things football-wise weren't turning out well. I was reading in Matthew 6 where it talks about worrying. I realized it was talking to me: You need to let go because you're not in control. From that point on, I was a different person. I was able to trust that everything was going to work out. I'd always gone to church every Sunday and had always believed, but it didn't really take over my life until that point.

What is your church life like?
Elisabeth: Tim and I went to New England Chapel back home in Massachusetts where the pastor was young, vibrant, down-to-earth, and real. He didn't pass prejudice. Those are all things I respect, especially in the Christian community, because too many people take an approach that I think turns a lot of people off, to be honest.

My View colleague Star Jones was great when we first moved to New York City. She invited us out to her church and we went. She's very open about her faith, which is great. But it's been hard [to find a stable church home in New York] because we've moved around a lot.

Tim: For example, we'll go somewhere and find a young couples group doing a thing on The Five Love Languages. We both love that book and will want to jump in and do it. Then someone comes up to Elisabeth and wants to know what she ate on Survivor or someone asks me what [fellow Giants quarterback] Eli Manning is like. Next thing you know we have our guard up.

Elisabeth, what's it like working on The View?
Elisabeth: I'm thankful that I can sit down every morning with four intelligent women and talk about things from shoes to faith to the war, circle back through politics, and end up at the latest diet. That's made me a better citizen and a better person. Being challenged by them is an unbelievable gift. People do not have conversations like that every single day.

"Some Christians come across as judgmental, and I don't think that's the way to let someone understand your faith."

Tim: I think a lot of people look at what she does and think, "You're on TV an hour a day; what's the big deal?" Really, there's a lot of preparation to it and also a lot of pressure to be "on" every day. People are listening to what you say. The idea of exposing yourself in a lot of personal ways was a little awkward for both of us.

Is standing up for what you believe difficult?
Elisabeth: Though it is a challenge, I see it more as a blessing. I've learned so much from these women. Because they're so good at what they do, they make me clarify my thoughts just sitting next to them.

Tim: I'm proud I'm married to someone who will go in there and stand up for things we believe. For Elisabeth to be in a situation where she believes that Jesus was born from a virgin, there are people who would say, "You're brainwashed, naïve, too young to really know." That's hard to swallow when someone basically tries to walk all over everything you stand for.

Tim, do you face the same pressure in the NFL?
Tim: No. In the athletic arena, you had people like Kurt Warner and guys who were crusaders for God. It isn't totally outrageous to be a Christian. It isn't crazy to go to Bible study on a Wednesday night with guys on your football team.

In the entertainment industry, you're an outcast in a lot of ways. Issues come up—serious topics like the Terri Schiavo case or abortion. Obviously Elisabeth's more conservative than some of the other women on certain topics.

Elisabeth: This is a very complex life. Things used to be simple back in the day. There was right and there was wrong. Now there's a lot of complexity to our lives and the decisions we have to make. But that's the beauty of our roundtable discussions on The View. I don't feel it's difficult to stand true to what I believe because that's what we're all paid to do. We respect one another and what we have to say. I feel a responsibility to be clear and honest and true to what I believe. I suppose many people debate issues with their friends and coworkers—but try doing it live on TV! [She laughs.] It's the most stressful thing, but I thrive on that.

How do you wade into controversial topics without losing your cool?
Elisabeth: I know some subjects are going to be a battle. Every time a heavy subject comes up, I can feel my body temperature rise and my blood pressure probably goes through the roof. Sometimes it takes me a little while to vocalize what I'm trying to get at. But you're either a warrior or a coward. Sometimes you back down and sometimes you fight with all your might.

Probably four days out of five I come home wishing I'd said something differently, or [wondering] why couldn't I have said this? Thankfully, there's always another show.

How do you approach the subject of Jesus with someone who doesn't necessarily want to hear it?
Elisabeth: I think a lot of Christians get a bad rap for pushing their faith because they're so excited about it. Some people are very put off by that. And some Christians come across as judgmental, and I don't think that's the way to let someone understand your faith.

The women of The View

Faith in God is a tricky subject to bring up in a public forum. But, for example, you can talk about creation. People say it's random. But what if someone walked up to the David sculpture in Italy and said, "This is random. All these particles came together and this gorgeous sculpture came together." Even someone who doesn't believe in a power other than himself would say, "That's ridiculous. An artist knew exactly what he was going to do when he put this here. There's no way this could be random."

Apply that same thought to God. If you wouldn't believe that Michelangelo's sculpture was created in a random fashion, how can you possibly believe that human beings—the most gorgeous creation in this world—can be random? If people were to separate just that thought process away from faith, then maybe they would consider that it really isn't sporadic and random and chaotic.

What, then, is the key to sharing your views with someone who may disagree with you?
Elisabeth: Any conversation two people can have, coming from different places, is priceless. Because no one has it all figured out. Who's to say that because I believe in God I'm a better person than someone who doesn't? That's absolutely not true. I think sometimes people choose to surround themselves only with those who think similar to them, and that's dangerous because you all end up yes-ing each other.

It all comes down to "love one another." Very simple. It's unbelievable, though, how we mess it up.

Copyright © 2006 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today's Christian magazine.
Click here for reprint information.

July/August 2006, Vol. 44, No. 4, page 34

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