Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I'm Back and I'm bloggin'


First, apologies to anyone looking for recent blog posts from me. I’ve had a rough fall with aging and sick parents on both sides of our family. The blog slipped though the cracks. I am committed to following through with at least weekly posts from now on.

First, I have say – How about those Red Sox?! My boys came through again - winning their second World Series title in four years. I am only now getting my sleep patterns back to something approaching normal because I had to enjoy every single out of the four game sweep in Colorado plus the post-game four celebration.

Speaking of the Rockies, I ran across a few articles recently talking about the intentionally Christian orientation of the team. The owners apparently believe the Rockies are God’s team and are quite open about their desire to field a team of Christian players because of their supposed superior moral fiber. This kind of talk always makes me feel uncomfortable. Since when do Christians have a monopoly on moral fiber?

This is professional baseball, not a church league. It seems to me that professional sports, school sports (unless it is a private religious school), Olympic sports, community sports leagues all should be religion-neutral. Players should be evaluated on their talents and individual character, not their religious fervor. Of course, individual players have the right to express their faith as they choose, but when individual athletes, team management, or team coaches start imposing their faith on everyone affiliated with the team that is crossing a line.

I know that Christian-oriented sport organizations like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Athletes in Action see sport as a medium for bringing people to Christ. Proselytizing or “spreading the good news” to others seems to be an integral part of being an Evangelical Christian, at least that is what I get from reading their literature and their web sites.

What if an athlete’s religious perspective is not Evangelical Christianity? What if an athlete is a Jew, Buddhist, Catholic, Mormon, an atheist? It doesn’t seem right to me for these athletes to have to participate in team Christian prayers in the locker room before games or to have to read Biblical inspirational messages from the coach posted on locker room walls or to feel pressure to attend team prayer meetings. It most certainly doesn’t feel right to me for non-Evangelical Christian team members to be badgered by their Evangelical teammates to accept Jesus, however well-intentioned these “invitations” are.

I associate Evangelical Christians with intolerance of lesbian and gay people. Maybe this is my own prejudice, my own “Christian-phobia,” but it always seems like anti-gay crusades are led by conservative Christian political organizations and the majority of anti-gay protesters I see at gay-affirmative events are always from religious groups. I know that there are many Christians, even some Evangelical Christians, who do not share these anti-gay views and that there are also many gay and lesbian Christians. It’s just that anti-gay Evangelicals seem to take up so much space and visibility, especially in sport.

FCA and AIA literature typically describe homosexuality as an “addiction” or a form of “co-dependency” that can be “overcome” through prayer, discipline and surrounding oneself with good Christian heterosexuals. Their web sites reference Exodus, an “ex-gay” ministry whose mission is hostile (under the guise of help and acceptance, of course) to gay and lesbian people and equal civil rights for gay and lesbian people. It troubles me that FCA and AIA, who I am beginning to have some dialogue with, associate themselves with Exodus. Call me an optimist, but I am still hoping to find common ground with Christian Athletic organizations like FCA and AIA. To me, this is a place where people of all faiths and straight, lesbian, gay, bi and trans people in sport can all compete together respectfully, but if the Colorado Rockies are the model for how Christianity works in sport, it doesn’t look good.