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Since I can remember, I’ve been an avid New York Yankees fan here in the heart of Dixie. I’ve been a follower of the team since the days of Joe DiMaggio, Bill Dickey and Phil Rizzuto.
After I became a Christian in 1952, I continued to love the Yankees, but admit to having a certain affinity for those players I have also known to be Christians. From Bobby Richardson (who would later coach at Liberty University) to Willie Randolph to Randy Johnson and others, these players have held a special place in my heart.
So it was that I read with interest this week a USA Today article on the Christian players with the Colorado Rockies. The story suggested that there existed “a Christian-based code of conduct” within the Rockies clubhouse that is not peppered with girly magazines nor inundated with risqu? music commonplace in most MLB clubhouses these days.
And, most interestingly, the Rockies are suddenly winning, with some of the Christian players saying they see the hand of God in their successes this year. Of course, this could change at any time since God’s Word never promises that being a Christian means we will never struggle or face challenges. In fact, I imagine there are also Christian players on the Kansas City Royals, the team with the worst record in baseball.
Nevertheless, it is fascinating to read about this team that is built on character and comprised of many Christian players and coaches that has become the talk of baseball.
Still, because we are talking about Christians, there is a hint of suspiciousness in the focus on the team. There is the implication that Christians in authority will instinctively exclude or isolate non-believers.
When former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft initiated a Bible study in the Department of Justice, there were similar charges. Wouldn’t the non-believers or atheists feel excluded?
“He’s running the department like a church …,” complained Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The ACLU declared that the Constitution was in danger from Ashcroft’s prayer meetings.
Strangely enough, Ashcroft is no longer serving in that capacity, and the Constitution seems to have held up quite well during the years since this controversy.
Do you imagine there would have been similar outcry if Ashcroft had been holding Tupperware parties or poker games or fantasy baseball drafts that others weren’t interested in?
Christians are obviously under scrutiny.
Florida State football Coach Bobby Bowden and Georgia Coach Mark Richt annually take players to church services to build character. They get the permission of players’ parents first. But again, the seemingly ubiquitous Americans United for Separation of Church and State says this situation is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Coach Bowden has also defended his friend, Air Force Coach Fisher DeBerry, who was told last year to remove a locker room banner displaying the “Competitor’s Creed,” which included the lines: “I am a Christian first and last … I am a member of Team Jesus Christ.”
So where does this leave Christians in the secular world? Are we to, as the old song says, hide our candle under a bushel?
You know what this old junkyard dog’s response is.
I think Coach Bowden has the right response. Speaking to USA Today last year, he stated, “We realize we have other religions with us … (but) I ain’t gonna back down.”
It’s a similar response that Rockies manager Clint Hurdle had this week: “I stand up for my relationship with Christ.”
This is the same message we are publicizing in our “Friend or Foe Graduation Campaign,” instructing high-school students that they have the legal right to articulate their faith during graduation ceremonies.
It’s a joy to see people taking a stand for Christ even at a time when it is obvious that there are forces that wish to silence us. Let’s stand together as we elevate Jesus Christ in the realm of growing secularism.
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