Readers of this site know that I am not a fan of the religious right.
I believe the religious right, the evangelical right, whatever you want to call it, has done more damage, harm, and destruction to this great nation than every other group or organization you can think of combined. These people stand in the way of progress at every turn, opposing stem cell research, opposing environmental protections. They oppose equal rights for all citizens, as evidenced by their stance on gay rights. They would rather hold placards and chant catchy themes at a problem (abortion), rather than embrace common sense tactics to reduce or eliminate the problem (condom distribution, legalization of morning after pill, sex education classes that teach more than just abstinence).
For a group of people so hell bent on imposing their moral standards on everyone, isn't it incredible how many sex and fraud scandals emerge amongst their elite? When was the last time a week went by without a "top evangelist resigns amidst sex scandal" headline? Or "key religious organization's accounting practices questions, prosecutors subpoena the books" article?
Or my personal favorite example of far right logic, if you can call it that: cheating on your wife (aka getting head from an intern), well that's high crimes and treason against the Constitution and worthy of removal from office. Lying about winning a war, resulting in the additional deaths of over 4,000 citizens as a result, well that's ok. Hell, that's not just ok -- we'll re-elect that guy!
Like I said, can't say I'm a fan of these people. And I usually get a good laugh or three at the inevitable articles exposing these hypocrites for what they are.
But this one, on FOX 4 last night ... this one is just priceless.
Its been a while since I broke a story down "Steve style", so let's do this. The article itself is in italics, by the way. My commentary is in regular font.
The link: http://www.myfoxkc.com/myfox/pages/Home/Detail?contentId=7951418&version=3&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=1.1.1
KANSAS CITY, MO -- From the soccer field to the basketball court, the fight is on. But, instead of school versus school, it's religion versus religion.
In a FOX 4 Problem Solvers Investigation, high school athletes are upset. They've been barred from the state finals, not because they lack talent, but because of where they go to church.
sk: are you kidding me. I nearly spit out the shiraz when I heard this opening. At first I thought this was going to be a "Christian school won't play Muslim school" kind of thing, but oh no. That would be giving these people way too much credit ...
"On their website it says they are promoting an athletic association in a Christian environment. Yet they are discriminating against us," said Brandon Wood. Wood plays soccer for Center Place Restoration School in Independence.
sk: "they are discriminating against us". No. I mean, the religious right never engages in spite and intolerance against those different from them. I'm shocked -- shocked! -- that someone would accuse those people of being anything less than friendly and inclusive to people of all faiths and backgrounds ...
Wood's team plays against private Christian schools across Missouri and until a few years ago his school competed in the Missouri Christian School State Finals. In fact, Brandon's school even received the Outstanding Christian Award.
That's until the Missouri Christian School Athletic Association decided Brandon's school wasn't Christian enough.
"We might have different beliefs but we are still Christian because we do believe in Christ," said Wood.
sk: wait for it ... wait for it, this is about to get hysterical, at least to me ...
That's not according to a very detailed statement of faith adopted by the Athletic Association. It says the true word of God is in a Bible consisting of 66 books from Genesis to Revelations and no more.
Because Brandon's school is based on Mormon beliefs and follows more than 66 books, it had to drop out of the association. And, it's not just Mormons that had to leave. So did a Catholic school and Episcopalians now can't join.
sk: and boom goes the dynamite! Seriously, is this a f*cking joke? Since when is evangelical Christianity the model for what being a Christian is? Since when do these self righteous blowhards determine what being a Christian is? Seems to me, I was taught that you're saved by faith in Jesus? I mean, wasn't that what we were taught growing up in the Church? That the church you belong to, the works you do, the words you say, that doesn't make you a Christian, its a faith in Jesus that does? Did I miss something here? Good grief, these people are just unbelievable. Cracked Magazine unbelievable.
"You always want your kids to think that it is a fair world and that you have commonalities with these other christian schools. I would like to see our commonalities be the things that unite us and not small doctrinal differences that divide us," said Center Place Athletic Director Judy Faunce.
sk: I'd like these people to just go away, but tragically, we can't always get what we want, Judy.
What Faunce can't understand is why her kids can play in local tournaments against schools that are part of the Missouri Christian School Athletic Association schools, yet her kids can't join the association or go to the state finals.
sk: Judy, you seem like a nice lady, but really, you have to understand, you cannot apply logic to these people. They're not logical. This isn't about sports or competition or fairness to them. Its about ideology. Namely, you are different than me, therefore you are a bad person and can't play with my kids. Its completely illogical. Its religion at its finest.
Star basketball player Kirsten Baker is baffled. She's hoping to go to college on a sports scholarship.
"It's very frustrating especially if I'm trying to be recruited. A lot of them ask if you go online and fill out their questionnaires or even just talk to you have you ever been all state. Or how far did your team go in state?" said Baker.
sk: I feel sorry for the kids in this, I honestly do. They're the ones getting screwed here. Seriously, how the hell do so many people buy into these people's way of thinking? I have good friends that are SDA's. Most of my family is Catholic. Does that mean we stand around whenever we get together and get into a p*ssing match over whose Bible is more accurate? Hell no! Because at the end of the day, we share the same basic value and belief systems! We just have a slightly different method of getting there. Someone needs to knock some sense into the heads of this athletic association ...
For four years, the kids at Center Place Restoration have been trying to convince the association to return to the original statement of faith that allowed them and others to participate.
"We've sent stuff to them and asked them to change their policies but they have started not even to respond to us any more," said Baker.
sk: wait. Hold it. This one just really blew my mind. This is a NEW development? Its only in the last couple years that these schools have been kicked out of the organization? What kind of idiot makes a decision to "change the statement of faith" that results in a worse organization, a smaller less effective one, than what you already had? What kind of moron does this to high school kids, simply because their Bible has a couple extra pages in it, pages that are accepted as "statements of faith" by their church? This is just retarded to me. But then again, retarded and the far right tend to be synonymous words.
Still, let me be fair here. I'm sure that this decision will be explained and defended by the head of this organization, and by the people who supported the change, right? I mean, if faith is about one thing, its transparency, correct? Our lives being an open book, an example to the world of what Christ would live as?
So, Brandon called FOX 4 Problem Solvers and we called the head of the Missouri Christian School Athletic Association, Terry Alcorn in Springfield.
We wanted an on-camera interview so Alcorn could explain why the organization was excluding Mormons, Catholics and Episcopalians.
Alcorn declined to go on camera. He even asked us not to show up at the state finals in Joplin. He told us the overwhelming majority of athletic directors at the member schools agree that Mormons, Catholics or Episcopalians should not be members.
FOX 4 tried to talk to some of those athletic directors at Raytown Baptist Church where they were attending a Conference of Christian Schools.
But, none of them would talk to us on camera. Off camera one man told us the statement of faith was adopted because the majority of schools are Evangelical and they don't want their students to play against students who they don't consider to be Christian.
sk: I love the religious right. Look it, I understand the folks at Raytown Baptist Church not wanting to be quoted on camera. I'm actually ok with that, I'm not a fan of ambush journalism for the most part. But for the head of the association to not only refuse an interview, refuse to explain the policy, but to also in essence ban a news organization from a news worthy event, are you kidding me?
Who exactly benefits from this news blackout imposed by the association? Surely they don't. They come across looking like a bunch of bigoted idiots. Or worse. Surely not the kids in the schools allowed in the association, because their teams are being denied the right to prove they can beat anyone that's on a level par with them. Surely not the kids in the banned schools, because they're being denied that same right. Surely not the parents paying to send their kids to any of these schools, because their kids are not being granted opportunities they're paying for.
Who benefits from this? I mean, that is what every person involved in this fiasco should be asked. Who the hell benefits from a friggin disagreement over whose Bible is most accurate?
"When I was asked 'Am I Christian?' I said, 'Yes' and they said 'What is your definition?'" Faunce told FOX 4. "I am follower of Christ. That I believe in Jesus Christ and him being the son of God and that the only way I can attain salvation is through him and that makes me a Christian."
sk: seems to me that is the Bible's definition of what a Christian is. Too bad some folks in the association decided to commit an even crasser offense than "adding to the Bible", and actually change said Bible's definition of what being a Christian is. I'd like to ask them what possessed them to change Jesus' own definition of what being a follower of his means. If they'd ever grant me an interview of course, which is about as likely to occur as me hooking up with someone tonight.
But, not to the Missouri Christian School Athletic Association. It was pretty grim for the kids at Center Place Restoration School until we met Corrie Lopez.
"What does the indicative mood do?" said Lopez.
Lopez is with the Training Center Christian School in Garden City. She is also an Athletic Director at an Evangelical School. But, she wants to see Mormons, Catholics and Episcopalians back on the court again.
"We shot ourselves in the foot when we eliminated the schools. Now the league is much smaller and now we are searching for schools to come play," said Lopez.
sk: the point I made a few paragraphs above. When you make a change, it damned well had better be to improve the situation. That is true for anything in life, for any group or business or in this case, athletic association. You don't just make a change to make a change, you do it to improve. Clearly, limiting membership in this association only to people who buy into the narrowest definitions of their faith, is not an improvement for anyone.
Lopez said differences in Christian theology shouldn't apply to sports. "We have never had a student change their religion because of what they play on the basketball court."
sk: exactly! That's the issue here: what the hell does your belief in Jesus, or how many books there are in the Bible, have to do with shooting a ball through a hoop? Or throwing a ball into a deep cover two? Or kicking a ball into the upper 90? What the hell does religion have to do with high school sports? Or any sport for that matter?
The policy stands in contrast to the largest Christian Athletic Association in the world, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
"We don't exclude churches. We don't exclude denominations," said Dan Rogeberg, with the FCA.
Everyone can attend an FCA event. Although the FCA does not allow mormons to hold leadership positions.
sk: see, this is how the Missouri Christian School Athletic Association should handle this situation. Thank you FCA for exhibiting some common sense. Now its up to the MCSAA to follow suit. Will they?
So, how do you solve this problem?
The Missouri Christian School Athletic Association says the only way to change the statement of faith is to have a member school request it and, then all the schools must vote on it.
Corrie Lopez said she plans to have her school make that request to help get kids back in the game again.
The Missouri Christian School Athletic Association is expected to vote on the issue this Spring. Unfortunately, even if it passes it will be too late for Brandon and Kirsten. But, it would help younger students.
sk: "help students". What a novel idea for a school athletic association to do, help the students. I mean, isn't that the whole freaking point of anything and everything affiliated with education, is to help the damned students?
Here's hoping these kooks that run the MCSAA revise their policies, allow these kids and their schools back into their organization, and realize that one person's definition of being a Christian isn't necessarily the right one. Here's betting they won't ...