Imagine the opposite of what John Lennon once sang, and there is a heaven. The question then becomes would the NFL boycott it because it deems God not tolerant or inclusive enough? Or less abstractly, why is the NFL teaming up against America’s long standing right of freedom of religion?
Jews and Christians believe Moses came down from Mt. Sinai carrying two tablets with instructions from God on how humanity ought to behave. Not to be outdone, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently dispatched league spokesperson Brian McCarthy from high atop the skyscraper at 345 Park Avenue in Manhattan to relay the NFL’s message on how the State of Georgia ought to behave. In short, the NFL has decreed phooey to the Bible, Torah, and Quran, the sacred texts and foundations of most of the world’s major religions.
The NFL’s declaration in question on the surface appears quite vanilla and familiar to our ears, probably because we can all recite its core message, as in our modern world we have heard one version or another of this speech thousands of times from various politicos and organizations. “NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard. Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites.”
What prompted this declaration was Georgia’s religious liberty bill. Apparently the NFL was bothered enough by the bill that it even brought out the biggest economic gun it possibly could, a threat that Atlanta would be rejected as a potential Super Bowl host if this bill passed. The lobbying efforts by the NFL, local corporate giant Coca-Cola, and all the usual LGBT organizations were successful in their politicking, as Georgia Governor Nathan Deal ultimately vetoed the bill. The Governor then told supporters of the bill that they need to “recognize that the world is changing around us.”
For the unfamiliar, Georgia’s religious liberty bill language closely followed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which President Clinton signed into law in 1993. Specific protection offered by Georgia’s religious liberty bill included the following:
• Clergy wouldn’t have to perform same sex marriage.
• Businesses couldn’t be required to open on their respected Sabbath by the local government.
• Protection for non-profits from having to provide services that violate their faith.
• Protection of religious non-profits to hire only employees who support and practice the non-profit’s faith.
• Protection of the individual or organization from intrusion by the government into a person’s or organization’s religious rights unless it had a compelling interest.
One may rightly wonder if the NFL has issues with the wording of Georgia’s religious liberty bill, then it surely must have issues with the wording of the Bible, Torah, and Quran? After all, one needn’t be a religious scholar to pick out sections in each of those religious texts that to our politically correct ears are much harsher than anything in the Georgia’s religious liberty bill. So the question becomes in today’s America, is one still allowed to be a practicing religious conservative, or is it becoming understood more and more that such practice is in literal violation of law?
The fact that so many large corporations and organizations, like the National Football League, have actively chosen sides against religious freedom is telling. One would assume they are looking at data telling them that this position is what the younger generation of consumers want them to take, and these organizations want to be on the “right side of history.” The trouble with this strategy is one can look foolish trying to be on the right side of history by debasing people’s religious beliefs. In this, one remembers the joke told at the expense of Nietzsche who famously declared “God is dead” in 1883, to which God replied “Nietzsche is dead” in 1900.
The world has changed much since Nietzsche’s declaration, but when one looks at the world, it is plain to see that the debate over the meaning of God is more active now than in Nietzsche’s time. Long after the likes of Roger Goodell come and go and the NFL ceases to exist, it is likely that humanity will still be grappling with the meaning of God. In the meantime, one would hope that the NFL would stop bullying people and trying to impend one’s free exercise of religion.