Thursday, May 26, 2005Who's on Team Christ?
Last season, DeBerry was asked to remove a banner from the locker room which displayed the "Competitor's Creed," including the lines "I am a Christian first and last ... I am a member of Team Jesus Christ."
"Fisher is fighting a heck of a battle over here at your academy (with) the U.S. government," Bowden was quoted as saying in the Gazette of Colorado Springs. "He's fighting a heck of a battle because he happens to be a Christian, and he wants his boys to be saved. I want my boys to be saved."
Bowden's comments came as a Pentagon task force investigates claims of religious intolerance at the academy, including cases in which a Jewish cadet was told the Holocaust was revenge for the death of Jesus and another was called a Christ killer by a fellow cadet.
"We realize we have other religions with us," Bowden said. "The coach has a responsibility to these boys to try to influence their spiritual life, their physical life and their academic life. ... We know we're going to get challenged on it, but that's what we believe in. I ain't gonna back down."
Now I recognize this for what it is. In political terms its called "red meat", Bowden is pumping up his crowd and he's one of the best at it. Furthermore I think the state of Florida (where I live) is very lucky to have a coach like Bowden as a representative.
However, these comments were concerning to some, including columnist Ted Hoffman.
Bowden may not realize it, but he is a teacher. He is an instructor at Florida State University no less so than the woman who teaches applied calculus or the guy who teaches Mayan Dental Techniques. Our taxes help pay Bowden's salary.
Just imagine the uproar if another FSU professor -- call him Osama bin Bowden -- urged his young charges to praise Allah and bow toward Mecca because he "has a responsibility to these boys to try to influence their spiritual life" and he "ain't gonna back down."
It just ain't -- er, isn't the place of a teacher in a state university to force his faith on his students. Period. And that holds even if the teacher in question is a beloved fella who drawls charmingly and has brought home two national titles to the university.
You've wanted to save your boys, Coach? You should have benched Chris Rix.
That's a funny ending, and pretty accurate too. Believe it or not there are enough people in the Seminole nation who feel that Rix was a favorite of Bowden due in part to his public display of religion.
Which brings me to a question. There really isn't a right or wrong here, but how far does a football coach go? How does Bowden's faith affect his recruiting? Does a talented Muslim football player, who wants to play at FSU, get a recruiting visit from the coach?
There are others who say that Bowden's christianity is the reason that parents send their kids to FSU. This I can't fully buy into, I think his success and the national spotlight of the FSU football program has more to do with that. I don't think many of his athletes will be studying theology as undergrads, however all of them want to go to the NFL.
Hoffman was on an Atlanta sports radio today and accounted very well for himself. But I'll let the readers decide.
DeBarry, Bowden in Religious Battle [AP]
FSU's Bowden Crosses Line on Faith Issue [The Ledger]