Jesus, the 12th Man in the Huddle

According to Jason Stein, a sports writer for the Defiance Crescent-News, something extraordinary took place last Friday during the Archbold/Hicksville High School football game.

Stein wrote:

When Archbold quarterback Tyson Dietrich took the snap from center Lee Klinger in overtime and ran 11 yards into the end zone seemingly effortlessly, the Blue Streaks used what little energy they had left in the tank to celebrate what the quarterback called a “miracle of a comeback.”

For Hicksville, a team that looked emotionally drained, it was a bitter way to end a game where it had played so well, but could never figure out a way to close the game out.

As players for the Aces took a knee, laid on the field and just looked exhausted, it was easy to see just how bad they wanted that game. And yet, for as well as both teams played, the best part of high school sports was yet to come.

In an age where arrogance and showboating is too often on the “highlight” reel on TV for players from the pros, college and even in high school, everyone on Friday gathered on the big Hicksville “H” at midfield. And this was not just the red and white jerseys, it included the blue and white as well and all of the coaches.

Why?

How could a team that had only a few seconds ago looked so down and another team that was riding the wave of victory quell their emotions? Why would these two combatants, who had just shaken hands as they are required to do, want to spend more time together?

Why?

How?

It’s called class.

All game long players were seen helping up the opponent, never showing the other team up, or taking a cheap shot at the other. Maybe this wasn’t as surprising, but it was a great sight of what sports SHOULD be about. Not winning or losing, but coming together at the end, win or lose and being grateful for playing a game on Friday night.

Stein rightly applauds the great show of sportsmanship by the Hicksville and Archbold players. Sportsmanship at all levels is lacking these days and it is refreshing to see players respect their opposition.

The problem I have with this story is the WHY of the sportsmanship. Why did the Archbold and Hicksville players treat each other with decency and respect?

The short answer? Jesus.

Hicksville and Archbold High School both have a Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter. According to Stein’s story this is the reason the players treated each other so well.

Lucas Smith,the coach for the Hicksville Aces, had this to say:

Both schools have a FCA program (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) and we invite the visiting players and coaches after the game to come and basically have a little talk together, a nice prayer thanking God for the opportunity to play this game, just looking forward to making men out of these young guys as they go through life.

NW Ohio is overwhelmingly Christian. Evangelical Christianity rules the roost so it is not surprising that Hicksville and Archbold have a Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter. What is surprising is a school employee, at a organized school activity, sees no problem with offering a “talk” and a sectarian prayer. This is a clear violation of separation of church and state.

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) is not a generic, non-sectarian group. Here is how FCA describes itself:

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes is touching millions of lives… one heart at a time. Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ. FCA is the largest Christian sports organization in America. FCA focuses on serving local communities by equipping, empowering and encouraging people to make a difference for Christ.

There is no question about the sectarian nature of FCA. The FCA has a statement of doctrine that makes it clear that they are a Fundamentalist/Evangelical group:

  • We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • We believe there is only one God, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)
  • We believe in the deity of Christ (John 1:1), in His virgin birth (Matthew 1:18, 25), in His sinless life (Hebrews 4:15), in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood (Hebrews 9:15-22), in His bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), in His ascension to the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9-11) and in His personal return in power and glory (Hebrews 9:27-28).
  • We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful men (women), regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential. (John 3:16; John 5:24; Titus 3:3-7)
  • We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life. (John 14:15-26; John 16:5-16; Ephesians 1:13-14)
  • We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost, they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation. (Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
  • We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:1-4)
    I suspect the coaches and the FCA will say attendance at the “talk” and prayer is strictly voluntary but as anyone who has ever played team sports knows, few players are willing to make themselves the target of the coach’s disfavor by not attending a team activity. So they quietly submit to acts of worship of the Christian God regardless of whether or not they are a practicing Christian. (and prayer IS an act of worship)

Personhood Ohio and their Attempt to End Abortion in Ohio

Is this a person with a right to all the protections of Ohio Law?

I have written about the issue of abortion many times. The last time I wrote on this issue I was accused of being immoral. How could anyone think abortion is ever OK, I was asked.

Most of the opposition to abortion is driven by Christian, particularly Evangelical and Catholic, religious beliefs. Regardless of common sense or scientific evidence, people continue to insist that life begins at conception. Since life begins at conception, any and all abortions are considered murder. Doctors who perform abortions are murderers. (though rarely is the woman getting the abortion called a murderer. She is considered a “victim”)

Personhood Ohio, a part of Personhood USA, is gathering signatures to put a Personhood Amendment on the Ohio ballot in 2012, This constitutional amendment will effectively outlaw all abortions, even abortions done to save the life of the mother.

The exact text of the amendment is as follows:

Be it resolved by the people of the State of Ohio that Article 1, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution be adopted and read as follows:

All PERSONS are, by nature, free and independent, have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and seeking and obtaining happiness and safety.

Insert: Article 1, Section 1(b). Person defined:

The word “person” or “persons” applies to every human being at every stage of the biological development of that human being or human organism, including fertilization.

In June 2001 I addressed the implications of a Personhood Amendment to the Ohio Constitution:

One of the implications of Personhood laws is that they could make the use of birth control pills illegal. (since birth control pills are an abortifacient and can, and do cause spontaneous abortion) 46 years ago in Griswold v. Connecticut the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the right of privacy extended to the use of contraceptives and states could not ban the sale of contraceptives. (it is hard to believe there was a time where selling birth control was illegal)

Personhood laws could upend not only Roe v. Wade but Griswold v. Connecticut. If a fertilized egg is a person then any deliberate effort to kill the fertilized egg would be considered murder. A quick perusal of The Pill Kills website will make it clear that the Personhood crowd is dead alive serious.

What are some of the legal implications?

  • All abortion would be illegal, including abortion in the case of rape and incest
  • Abortion to save the life of the mother would be outlawed since it is illegal to murder one person to save another
  • Using any form of birth control that is an abortifacient would be illegal
  • Our entire legal code would need rewritten to reflect that a fertilized egg is a person
  • A person causing a woman to miscarry would be charged with murder.
  • Parents would be able to claim the fertilized egg as a dependent on their income tax return
  • Fertilized eggs would be eligible for adoption
  • Stem cell research would be curtailed and possibly even banned

The battle line is clear. The religious-right has learned that evangelizing people one soul at a time will never give them the Christian nation they desperately want. So they turn to the political process, where they have been very successful in advancing their agenda. Issue by issue they continue to push their agenda forward.

The battle is not about abortion as much as it is about religious dogma. Those pushing the Personhood Amendment in Ohio have no room in their worldview for compromise. After 9-11, then President George Bush, told the world, either you are for us or you are against us. I see this same kind of thinking with those promoting the Personhood Amendment. They are convinced God and the Bible are clear…..life begins at conception (or fertilization) and any termination is murder.

Never mind that millions of people, myself included, don’t believe life begins at conception. However, we also don’t believe in abortion on demand through the entire nine months of pregnancy either.

My position is clear. Here is the breakdown on WHEN abortions occur:

  • 61.8% of abortions occur at nine weeks or less
  • 78.9% of abortions occur at ten weeks or less
  • 89% of abortions occur at twelve weeks or less
  • 98.5% of abortions occur at 20 weeks of less
  • 1.5% of abortions occur after 20 weeks

Nine out of ten abortions occur in the first trimester. I support abortion without exception in the first trimester. I generally support abortion up to viability. (and I know there is debate over when viability is reached) Once viability is reached I do not support the right to an abortion unless the mother’s life is at stake. (and the vast majority of late term abortions are done because the life of the mother is at stake)

Imagine with me for a moment a women who was raped and is now pregnant with the rapist’s child. Do we really want to say to the woman, “You must carry your rapist’s fetus to term.”

Imagine with me for a moment a 14 year old girl who was raped by her step-father. Do we really want to say to the teen, “you must carry your stepfather’s fetus to term.”

Imagine with me for a moment a woman who is pregnant with a fetus that is literally killing her. Do we really want the life of the mother sacrificed so a fetus can live? (who would I choose, wife or unborn fetus. Not a hard choice. I would choose my wife every time)

While medical treatment for birth defects are improving at astounding rates, fetuses are still born with defects that will result in their death in a matter of hours or days after birth. Is forcing a woman to carry such a fetus to term in the best interest of everyone involved? I know there are differing views on this difficult issue BUT Personhood laws cut off all debate. Life begins at conception, end of story.

A Personhood Amendment to the Ohio Constitution will result in women going out of state or to back-alley providers to get an abortion. Since “morning after” drugs will be outlawed women will seek other medical means to terminate their pregnancy.

I don’t doubt the sincerity of the religious zealots who are trying to get the Personhood Amendment on the ballot. Driven by their belief in God and a literal interpretation of the Bible they intend to deny every woman in Ohio of the right to control what does or does not happen to their body. Every pregnant woman will be stripped of the right to choose what is medically best for them. If the Personhood Amendment is enacted pregnancy will be the only medical condition a woman has no control over.

Make no mistake about it. The religious zealots pushing the Personhood Amendment have many social and moral issues the would love to regulate by law. Abortion is just one item in their catalog of perceived social ills they would love to regulate by law.

We must push back any attempt to enshrine religious dogma in the Ohio Constitution. I realize we have a tough battle ahead of us. Politically, Ohio has taken a decided turn to the right. Sometimes I wonder where “my Ohio” has gone. Almost every major political office in Ohio has a Republican at the helm. Even here in NW Ohio, Republicans own virtually every political office. A pro-choice person is unelectable. Just imagine the odds of me winning an election as a liberal, pro-choice, atheist. The Bengals have a better chance of winning the Super Bowl this year. (and they have a ZERO chance)

Regardless of the odds, we must make known our opposition to the Personhood Amendment. First, we must try to stop the amendment being put on the ballot. If enough signatures are gained and the amendment makes it to the ballot we must make people aware of the pernicious import of this amendment and defeat it on Election day.