You know I’m a big supporter and advocate for our American Constitution, and particularly the First and Second Amendments.
The First Amendment secures our rights to speak and believe as we’d like. The Second Amendment secures our rights to protect and defend those First Amendment rights, as well as our other rights. The latter is the teeth of the former.
My wife, Gena, and I are evangelical Christians, but we respect all religions. We stand up for the freedoms in the First Amendment that all Americans have to believe as they want, when they want, and practice the same where they want, privately and publicly. And as Americans, we should protect those constitutional rights of others, whether we agree with them or not.
We all should be able to voice dogma without worry of repercussion or being accused of hate language for doing so. We should also respect the dogma of others, and how they express it. We can be exclusive and persuasive with our words and beliefs if we want, but should also respect others doing the same in the court of opinion, as long as they bring no harm to another.
I believe America was founded as a Christian nation (without denominational preference or dominance), and that our country and communities would be better off if we re-established the role of “the pillar of religion,” as George Washington admonished in his “Farewell Address” as president. I respect the plurality of others’ beliefs within that large umbrella. I affirm the diversity and melting pot of religion in our land and the freedoms to express it.
But today, our First Amendment is being bastardized to mean something that it does not. It is being used to stifle opinion rather than to set it free and let it soar.
As I wrote in my New York Times bestseller “Black Belt Patriotism“: “The ACLU and like-minded atheist groups and liberal media outlets are not preserving First Amendment rights; they are perverting the meaning of the establishment clause (which was to prevent the creation of a national church like the Church of England) and to deny the free exercise clause (which preserves our rights to worship as we want, privately and publicly). Both clauses were intended to safeguard religious liberty, not to circumscribe its practice. The Framers were seeking to guarantee a freedom of religion, not a freedom from religion.”
Because of the distorted interpretation and practice of the First Amendment being peddled today, I believe we’ve lost the art and American way to agree to disagree agreeably. We’ve lost the power of debate, and we’ve redefined dogma as hate language.
We’ve got to get back to our roots and the original intent of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. We’ve got to fight again for being unified even in our differences. That spirit of unity (E Pluribus Unum) and practice of liberty is what makes us different than other dictatorial regimes and countries in the world.
Speaking of spiritual expression and unity as Americans, I found it remarkably healthy from an American First Amendment standpoint that ministers from different persuasions met together to minister to the poor in “a spiritual Super Bowl.”
The Minnesota Star Tribune reported, “Nearly a thousand faithful celebrated at an official Super Bowl event that put the spotlight on one of Minnesota’s less glitzy claims to fame – its national leadership in multifaith cooperation.”
“It really shows what is unique about Minneapolis,” said Joe Kreisman, director of Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness. “There are many cities where the faith community does advocacy work together. But we haven’t found anywhere else that does both service and advocacy like we do here.”
The spiritual Super Bowl host committee came up with the idea of even having a little fun, too. They encouraged dozens of ministers from various congregations to film a goofy football team video that was used to entertain, inspire American unity and raise money for the homeless.
I found it equally inspirational and encouraging that both the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots – like other NFL teams – have devout Christian chaplains at the heart of their teams.
The Catholic Herald reported that both teams “have clear game plans for making Sunday Mass in the midst of prepping for big games each week. Msgr. Mike Foley and Father Tom Barcellona celebrate Mass for the respective Super Bowl-bound teams they serve.”
The article added: “Father Barcellona has served as the Eagles’ Catholic chaplain since 2004, the last season the team went to the Super Bowl. … He also helps provide priests for visiting teams across the NFL through his role on the board for Catholic Athletes for Christ. The nationwide ministry works with athletes of all levels to live the Catholic faith.”
As far as what team is God’s favorite? (One in four Americans believes God plays a role in athletics.) Answer: We all know God cheers for the Saints!
All joking aside, I think God is the greatest cheerleader for each and every one of us, or He wants to be, because the Good Book values and elevates “soaring eagles” and “kingdom patriots”! He shows no favoritism. He loves winners and losers, because He loves us all.
It’s so true, when it comes to sports and life, that it’s about far more than just winning or losing: It’s truly about how you play the game. It’s about understanding your individual calling and place on the team, and that you strive to be the best you that you can be, win or lose.
As the character playing Scottish Olympic gold medalist runner Eric Liddell said in the now legendary sport faith film “Chariots of Fire”: “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”