MRFF SUPPORTER RESPONDS – Re: Mike Berry’s 12/27 Guest Column editorial opinion

In response to Mike Berry’s 12/27 Guest Column editorial opinion:

Respectfully, it is understandable that a  first glance opinion of the pre-game “kneel” prior to an US Air Force football game is a private expression of faith that falls within the realm of religious rights protected by the Constitution. This is a common and sometimes seductively popular knee-jerk reaction to events involving frequent forms of public Christian expression that occur within this country.  Unfortunately his editorial argument is with without substantive support and contains numerous false premises.

It is true as he states that a “private act of devotion…  should be respected”.  However any action by the USAF team at a public sporting event, witnessed live by tens of thousands of spectators, and virtually via media, by tens of thousands more hardly qualifies as a “private” event.  Further, as an attorney, Mr. Berry should know his opening assertion that years of tradition of publicly “kneeling” prior to a game somehow makes something so wrong — more right, is simply without merit — no more than years of slavery in the US would make the practice right today.

To be clear, these practices are blatantly wrong.  And, there are numerous  reasons to support this determination.  Most obvious is that any external public display of religious or anti-religious behavior by a government sponsored team carries the implied endorsement of a specific religious affiliation by military leadership and the U.S. government — this is flatly unconstitutional.  Further, and more deeply disturbing, is a complete glossing over the non-public implications of this type of religious expression  in the unique circumstances of both participating on a “team” and being an enlisted member of the United States Military.  

Putting aside for the moment any government affiliation to the USAF “team”… the annals of sports’ team history are replete with infamous examples of overt unfairness from Jackie Robinson to more recent cases of openly gay football players, basketball players, etc.  Neither a sports team, any sports team, nor any employer has no right to demand that all members be a particular race, heterosexual, or of christian religious belief — this is against the law. A sports team, in this case, is a unique construct.  

Truth in practice, success of the team requires absolute allegiance to the team’s tactics, strategies, and goals –as you may be familiar with the phrase, “there is no I in team.”  This same allegiance to the team also grants massive power to team leaders to mold individual behaviors for purposes of motivation, effort, passion, drive and success.  Hand-in-hand, team coaches and owners have a duty not to distort this model to infuse religious beliefs and/or practice, sexual orientation or behaviors, political affiliation and/or activism, racial or cultural prejudices to the detriment of individual team members. Again, to do so, is wrong and a grave personal injustice. 

So, to be clear, this instance of public Christian prayer is not as he states “a few cadets honoring God before a game.” This is a team — all for one and one for all.  So if you are an atheist, Jew, Muslim, Satanist or clear thinking Christian on this team you are faced with the option of kneeling and pretending to participate in an overt display of Christian prayer or risk being ostracized by your team members and  retaliation by coaches — an unacceptable proposition.    

Now magnify the circumstances of sports team participation by the life or death implications of participating on a military team — Christian religious favoritism has no place here either.

Your assertion that the MRFF makes attacks on military service members of faith is simply a false and superficial judgement that ignores the facts.  The MRFF does not attack military service members, it attacks military leadership members for creating and allowing an uncomfortable (and often psychologically untenable) environment for service members by exclusively favoring Christian practices.   

I would agree that military commanders should go to great lengths to ensure that our service members are able to practice their faith, any faith, and no faith freely, without fear of reprisal, peer-pressure, or harassment.  These fine men and women deserve our gratitude and respect. Our military should to enjoy the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom for all faiths to be practiced (Muslim, Christian, Jew, Catholic, Atheist, Agnostic, etc.) free from Christian favoritism, so they may steadfastly protect our same rights too.

– written by a MRFF supporter

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  1. Yeshua Warrior

    May I point out that there are Christian football players on many college and pro teams that may pray before a game, yet they are still part of the team whether they win or lose. Please point out to me where non Christian players on either college or pro teams feel that they are ostracized if they do not pray before or after the game with their fellow team members who happen to be Christians? Also, please do not tell me that a military academy cadet player is different than an regular college player, because on any college team their is the same comraderie among the players as their is on an academy team!

  2. G

    YW, the military football players are different because the military sport teams which are subsidies by the US taxpayers. That is the difference and you should know that or already now that a long time ago.

    Part of team? Yeah right, if some cadet whether he/she is part of the team or not, refuses to participate in prayer, he/she will be ostracized and face retaliation for it. as several people on this website have pointed out. Again, you should know that or already know that by now.

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