Ah, yes – Clemmins football, church and the ACLU. Now that’s a heady mix.
You get the feeling that no matter how this one turns out, it won’t be good.
Filed under College Football
I’m living this story right now. It’s all over the news & talk radio. People here, including me, are dumbfounded as to why this is such an issue.
The Piedmont Chapter of the aclu admitted yesterday that NO PLAYER OR PLAYERS’ PARENT complained. A member of the aclu found out about it & the board decided to attack Clemson. Also, an anonymous email to a news organization outed this story yesterday morning & the aclu promptly admitted they did not want this story to get out. Gee, wonder why?
To say that giving a player a ride on a bus to church is somehow a violation of the constitution is outrageous to me.
Last time I checked the constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” As a South Carolinian I can tell you for a fact that Tommy is no member of congress.
But, what about Tommy Bowden’s right’s to express his beliefs? What about the players’ rights to express their beliefs?
Going with the asinine aclu logic, is the University also in violation for having a chaplain?? If so, Chappy Hynes beware….the aclu may be after your job soon.
Also, if Tommy Bowden were a Muslim would we be having this discussion? I seriously doubt it.
The real tragedy is how quickly the AD at Clemson is bowing to the aclu’s demands.
I normally agree with all of your comments because it seems we think alike, but let me present a different side.
First of all, I’m a lifelong Christian, currently serving as an Elder and Board President in my church, so I’m against most anything that would contribute to the decline of the Christian church.
However, the reason that the ACLU has stepped up their campaign lately (and this is just my opinion) is that past history indicates Christians tend to look down on those who do not believe in any organized religion, most notably their own. Christianity has “dominated” the United States for years, with little resistance. That is not the case anymore.
When Bowden “strongly recommends” that players attend church, that borders on the football equivalent of quid pro quo. I realize that who starts and who rides the pine is very subjective to start with, but throw in the dynamic of whether Tammy is unhappy with someone because they didn’t attend a church not of their choosing and it could get unpleasant for Clempsun. All Bowden has to do is have a player organize this very same function. That will solve the problem of the players’ right to express their beliefs (but not the issue of the bus). Everyone seems to be so caught up in what’s in the constitution, that they don’t see the more simple fact – it’s wrong to mandate religious practice on anyone. That’s the reason WHY they wrote “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
And if Tommy Bowden was Muslim, you can bet yer ass we would be having this discussion. The same principle applies.
And it should be noted that Clemson sux anyway.
If I can add (gently) along the same lines, as a Jew growing up in the South, perspective matters in this discussion. It matters a lot.
Things that seem benign from the perspective of a good Southern Baptist’s point of view may not have that same feel from someone else’s.
That’s not to say that Tommy – or the ACLU – is right or wrong here. I don’t know the first thing about the specifics of the charges.
But I do know that religion can be a very touchy subject, whether you are a member of a majority or a minority faith. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
I appreciate & understand your position, especially because we come from similar backgrounds. I hope our disagreement on this issue doesn’t taint our agreement on others.
So please forgive me but I respectfully disagree with a few of your points.
My main issue is that the aclu’s involvement is not necessary. None of the players or their families were offended in the least by Coach Bowden’s intent. They did not contact or complain to the aclu – a board member of the Piedmont chapter read a human interest story in our paper back in late July about “church day” and took it upon himself (using taxpayer dollars) to pursue litigation.
Also if you haven’t had the benefit of reading the actual text of Coach Bowden’s letter, he explained to the parents that as a part of their educational & growth process he wanted to expose them to a church environment. Simple as that. He happened to choose a local protestant church this time. I do not know, nor does anyone, if he will choose to visit a Temple or Mosque in the future.
I have to also disagree with your assesment of the aclu’s involvement here. Remember we are talking about a group who’s president has openly stated that he wants a “Jesus Jihad” in this country. He also stated that by the time he’s through with his term as President, Christians will only be allowed to pray in their homes while hiding in a closet! I don’t care what his issues are with Christians or whether as you say, “Christians tend to look down on those who do not believe in any organized religion” – that’s absolutely no reason to abuse his position in a TAXPAYER FUNDED organization to pursue a violation of my rights and the rights of other Christians in this country, majority or not.
Secondly, your argument about Tommy Bowden is based on a hypothetical. You have no proof to suggest that Coach Bowden intends to abuse this “church day” or use it to influence which players start, ride the pine, etc. Considering how tenous his job situation is year in & year out, I seriously doubt he’s gonna sit out his best player because he didn’t attend a 1 hour service. In fact, the record, according to the Clemson AD proves just that.
Also, please remember that CMR has done the exact same thing at UGA for years:
In addition, the reason why Clemson is so taken aback by this latest action is because they thought the problem was solved. Back in August when the aclu threated Clemson with a lawsuit the University responded and agreed to not allow Coach Bowden to use the busses, even though the same busses are used for a variety of other uses including some church related, but whatever.
That, of course, didn’t satisfy the aclu. They immediately changed course AGAIN and said it is NOW about the players. They claim that because the player has to choose not to attend, that this somehow takes away his choice. Huh??? Making a choice to attend or not is a CHOICE – it is not and never has been mandatory.
That is the crux of the issue.
Might I also point out that we are not talking about children here – we are talking about young men, adults, the majority of which (if not all) are over the age of 18. These are not impressionable little ones – they’ve been around the way.
And, you missed my point about the Muslim issue. THE ACLU would most certainly not be involved in this discussion if Tommy was a Muslim or if he chose to take the players to a mosque – sorry I didn’t make that clearer before. Their interest lies in the fact that he took them to a Christian service – period.
Let’s also remember that regardless of what anyone thinks about Clemson or Tommy, as a coach, he is still the son of Bobby – the same man that led CMR to Christ. It was his influence & his talk to the players in a lockerroom years ago after an FSU player was murdered that influenced CMR. Bobby Bowden shared his faith with Coach Richt & those boys – it was CMR’s choice to become a Christian afterwards. It was his choice to further that discussion privately and begin a life of faith. Tommy shares that same faith of his father and CMR.
I don’t think its a stretch then to suggest that many people love CMR for the man he is, and that man is largely shaped by his personal relationship with Christ – his words, not mine. CMR openly shares his faith with his players and that can only be a positive thing.
But there is one thing you said that is absolutely, undeniably correct…Clemson does suck!
Thanks for the discussion – Go Dawgs!
PS – Senator, thanks for blogging about this topic. I do sincerely hope that you are not offended by this discussion or by Tommy Bowden’s actions. I would love to hear your perspective.
We can certainly agree to disagree
1. Please review the ACLU’s position on Freedom of Religion:
( I could not find any information on your claim about the ACLU President wanting a Jesus Jihad )
Based on the ACLU’s statement about Freedom of Religion and Belief, I would say they WOULD care if Bowden “strongly recommended” all his players attend a mosque, temple, etc. To assume they only want to hinder Christianity is a fear tactic that is spread too easily.
Speaking of fear tactics, the ACLU is “funded” by taxes for attorney fees (in cases they win only). They receive the monies for defending those who’s civil liberties they feel have been violated. They don’t have a by-line in the federal budget.
2. I’m aware of Coach Richt’s rededication and Coach Bowden’s role in it (I listen to the audio of his speech often). The issue has come up before (the cheerleader incident) and Richt was asked about his group trips to church. But to be honest, I would like to see the wording of the letter to the parents by both coaches. Again, my main problem is that Bowden “strongly recommends” that they go. Knowing the faith of both coaches, these visits are not field trips. Whether you like it or not (and the Senator agreed), religion can be a touchy subject and no one likes to be made to feel like a sinner. (If I go, I’ll feel bad, if I don’t, what will they think of me?)Ask someone who says they believe in God, but never goes to church. The guilt aspect is strong.
3. I can’t sit here and defend the ACLU for this particular unwarranted stab. They obviously found out about this once, and went after it AGAIN. But I’m willing to bet that Bowden and the Clemson athletic department will be uber-cautious when planning future trips to a church. My guess is, that’s the ACLU’s goal in the first place. No one questions when the NRA flexes their muscles – they play a “prevent defense” like everyone else, even if they don’t get what they want. But when the ACLU or Jesse Jackson does it, they are crucified.
4. Of course I don’t have proof that Bowden PLANS to put an invisible punishment on a player who doesn’t go. But the environment will exist where he could. If people believe that Christians take their faith as seriously as we say, then a player could wonder to what end would we make sure we spread the word?
5. The player has to “opt out” of not going. Again, it depends on how this is done. If it’s ok for him not to show up when it’s time to go, that’s fine. But if he has to notify Coach Bowden ahead of time, “Hey, I’m not going”, I think that’s wrong.
I doubt we’re going to agree on this, and that’s ok. I still feel that, collectively, American Protestant churches bully the public, albeit silently. I can tell you that after 41 years, I have lost absolutely NONE of the privileges I have had as a Christian, despite what people like Rush Limbaugh and others say.
As always, Clemson sux.
Senator, if some player were complaining about this, a Jew, Muslim, etc. And said they felt it was mandatory and that they felt as if they were letting the team down by not attending. I’d give a listen.
But when a party who is not affiliated with it in the least, comes in and starts taking it upon themselves to dictate what’s wrong or right when no one is being physically harmed I have a problem.
The ACLU continues to overstep it’s bounds. They have a purpose, but they are ate up with big brother mindset.
Again, I don’t know the specifics of this, so I’m a bit reluctant to start opining about who’s right and who’s wrong here.
But I’ve got to say that if you think it’s easy for someone to stand up and say he or she objects to this sort of practice, you really don’t understand the issue here as well as you believe you do.
I’m old enough (barely) to remember when praying in public school was an established practice. You know it was like to be the only Jewish child in a class of, say, 25 kids who prayed at the start of each school day at the direction of their teacher? Awkward.
But not awkward enough to protest.
I don’t question Tommy Bowden’s sincerity in this matter, not in the least. But we all know what the road to hell is paved with. On the other hand, it looks as if the ACLU has erred, at least tactically, in trying to resolve the situation.
It seems to me that there has to be some way for well intentioned folks to accommodate this sort of tension. Look at how Richt was able to handle having Musa Smith on the Georgia team without incident over anyone’s personal beliefs.
I’m assuming Richt and Musa didn’t have a problem cause there was a mutual respect for each other’s beliefs. I’m assuming since no player has voiced a problem there is also a mutual respect for both coach and player’s beliefs. If you have a problem speak up, if you are so afraid to buck the system that you don’t, then live with it.
The US is not 1940’s Germany the last I checked. There are always gonna be people who won’t like you for doing the right thing. I decided a decade or so ago, with my family, that I wasn’t gonna laugh or act like I found funny any racist comments they made any more. My aunts and uncles chided me for being uppety and thinking I was better than everyone else or what have you. It took awhile, but now they don’t crack those jokes anymore, at least not around me.
This ain’t exactly like african american’s cooperating with the FBI on a KKK suspected murder. We’re not talking about life and death here. Grow some balls.
All of that is easy to say when you’re not some 18 year old who doesn’t want to buck the main authority figure in your life. Or 80+ teammates that you want to get along with.
One more time here. Any time I’ve had a problem with something a professor said or asked me to do in a class, I talked with him in private.
If after talking in private, if Tuberville still doesn’t make the kid feel it’s OK not to go, then there is a problem. If he does make him feel it’s ok to not attend, what exactly is the problem here?
I’m over simplifying? There is also such a thing as making a big deal out of nothing. And here I think we have some problem. If a kid can put his arse in front of ninety thousand, knowing those people are hanging their hopes and dreams for sixty minutes on any play he may or may not make, I think he’s got the fortitude to stand up for himself in a situation like this. Otherwise, he probably shouldn’t be on the football field.
This isn’t about a professor saying something in a class. It’s about people’s religious beliefs, which is a much more personal and deeply held matter.
Again, I’m not judging anyone here, because I don’t know all the facts.
But if you think that it’s easy to stand up and protest something like this, perhaps you should take a look at this story.
“Those 13 jerseys are going to be around a long time.”-- Brock Bowers, The Athletic, 1/10/23
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