If a baseball player blesses himself before stepping into the batter's box, or gestures to heaven after hitting a home run, that's fine — it's a personal expression of faith.
But if the team manager orders all the players to bless themselves, that is wrong because it imposes an expression of Christian belief on players who might not be Christian.
This is the essence of the "Jesus in the huddle" controversy at the University of Connecticut. And while many clearly think it's OK for the world of sports to play by a different set of rules, it's time to challenge that thinking.
In an interview over the weekend, assistant football coach Ernest Jones suggested the school's football program would have a Christian orientation: "We're going to make sure [players] understand that Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle."
Rena Epstein of West Hartford spoke for many when she said in a letter to The Courant published Tuesday: "It sounds like football players who are not Christian might not feel a part of that huddle." University President Susan Herbst agreed wholeheartedly, saying in a letter published Wednesday that employees of the public university "cannot appear to endorse or advocate for a particular religion or spiritual philosophy."
Good for both women. They risked incurring the wrath of those who feel differently. WFSB sports director Joe Zone, for example, attacked Ms. Epstein for even bringing this up, "with all of the problems on campuses today, drug abuse, gun violence, sexual assault," and said Jesus "should be in every huddle, in every locker room, on every bench."
Well, the same First Amendment that protects Mr. Zone's opinion, however poorly informed we might believe it to be, also protects non-Christian student athletes from having another religion imposed on them. That is totally inappropriate at a public university. Ms. Epstein and Ms. Herbst got it right.Copyright © 2015, CT Now