Religion on politics

Separation of church and state in the United States In the s in New England the dominant Federalist Party was closely linked to the Congregational church ; when the party collapsed, the church was disestablished.

Religion on politics

Before the whistle blows for the first time this year and the football goes tumbling through the air, there will be an act dripping with political significance. It will come even before the singer takes the field and thousands stand with hand over heart, keeping one eye on the flag and one eye on the field, scanning for players who might be kneeling or raising their fist.

And it will probably come during and after, too. That act is prayer. The participants may not think of it as political; they may be praying only for safety or inner peace or to draw near to their God. But when prayer and football intersect in highly visible ways, those moments—and the conversation around those moments—go beyond personal devotion, revealing and reflecting ongoing battles over the direction of American society and the meaning of American life.

From pre-game invocations to post-game huddles, from touchdown celebrations to protests during the national anthem, prayer pervades football. We can begin where American football began in the late nineteenth century: At the time, many were suspicious of the new game for its brutality and its tendency to divert attention from education.

But some white, male, Anglo-Saxon Protestants saw the game as a godsend. For them, football provided a way to develop the physical and moral characteristics needed to maintain their authority at home in an age of immigration and extend it abroad in an age of American imperialism.

By practicing and publicizing football-related prayer, they provided the game with moral gravitas fit for future leaders. He concluded his essay with a glimpse of the victorious Princeton locker room. It depicted Earl Dodge, a football captain from the class ofwearing his football uniform with an academic gown over his shoulder and books in his left hand—an elite white Protestant male with the physical, moral, and intellectual qualities to conquer and lead subject people at home and abroad.

The statue did not stand for long. Disillusioned by World War I and enthralled with consumer culture, in the s students at prestigious northeastern schools adopted more cynical attitudes towards faith. It was repeatedly defaced by drunk Princeton students, until finally at the end of the decade it was sent to storage for safekeeping.

But just as the public blending of football and prayer was cast off in the Ivy League, it was championed by less prestigious colleges. These underdogs saw prayer as a way to cultivate community pride and stake a claim for importance in mainstream American life.

Religion on politics

The team began receiving widespread attention for its habit of pre-game prayer in Two years later the attention intensified when the Praying Colonels went north and shocked heavily favored Harvard,marking the arrival of white southern football on the national stage.

Along with the white South, prayer in the s also became associated with Notre Dame, the most dominant team of the decade. It was a way to assert Catholic confidence in the midst of Protestant hostility, a means of claiming a place in a country that had long been dominated by Protestant leadership.

Yet, whiteness remained constant. Notre Dame, like its southern counterparts, had no black players or students at the time. After World War II, prayer in football went national, stretching from coast to coast.

Faith in God was promoted as an antidote to atheistic communism, while faith in football was promoted as a way to develop men who could lead America in its worldwide battle for freedom. Colleges and high schools increasingly opened their games with prayers recited over the public address system—the University of Oklahoma, for example, began the practice in And in the professional ranks, grown men began to pray in more public ways as well.

The National Football League NFLfounded inhad lacked the middle- and upper-class respectability of college football for its first three decades. In the s, however, as professional football moved closer to the American mainstream, praying pros gained greater attention and political significance.

Dan Towler, a black running back for the Los Angeles Rams, earned publicity in for leading his team in a pre-game prayer. He later re-enacted the scene in a Hollywood football movie. That Towler received widespread attention for leading white teammates in prayer reflected a Cold War-era desire to promote racial harmony, at least in theory.

White Cleveland Browns quarterback Otto Graham echoed this desire when he spoke about the importance of prayer on his integrated team. But by the s, the supposed consensus of the s disintegrated when confronted with the hard reality of American inequality and division.

Gestures and symbols of inclusion, it turned out, did not change the situation on the ground. Still, prayer in football did not go away. Instead, it became ever more conspicuous as a new group emerged as the standard-bearer of gridiron piety: While evangelicals were certainly interested in using prayer to support religious nationalism, they added a new twist, turning football prayers into advertisements for the born-again brand of faith.

Don Shinnick, an outspoken evangelical and a star linebacker for the Baltimore Colts in the s, illustrates this shift.

Religion on politics

So he created a new routine. First, he encouraged teammates to pray on their own.

12 Rules for Mixing Religion and Politics | People For the American Way

PAO leaders facilitated a system of voluntary pre-game chapels, usually featuring a guest speaker who offered a short message and prayer.

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Religion and politics in the United States - Wikipedia