I draw in part from an recent article in the Deseret News:
Fans of both Boise State and Brigham Young University had their spirits lifted last month when, at the end of a hard-fought football game, players from both teams held hands on the ﬁeld and joined in a prayer. They were led by Boise State’s team chaplain Mark Thornton. It was a powerful reminder that the passions of a hard fought football game take secondary importance to the concepts of brotherhood, mutual respect and human kindness. Players from many denominations participated. It was exactly the kind of thing this nation - divided by bitter partisanship and a pandemic needed more of.
An organization “The Freedom From Religion Foundation” in protest, sent a letter to the university asking it to terminate the position of team chaplain. The university counsel quickly capitulated saying, “it was educating the athletic department to ensure measures are taken now and in the future to resolve the issue and establish appropriate constitutional boundaries.” What is worse, the university went on to assure the foundation that the chaplain would no longer travel with the football team, nor would the school ever refer to him again as being associated with the team.
Shame on you Boise State. You have all too quickly given in to unreasonable voices that seek to intimidate and coerce organizations into severing all ties with religion. Why didn’t you have a little backbone and tell the “Freedom From Religion Foundation” to stay out of university practice that is loved by players and fans. You sold out without any defense. The fans and players you have oﬀended and disappointed far out number the folks you placated with your cowardly response. Again, shame on you. We expect greater courage and integrity from a university. What a poor example of leadership and responsibility. Why weren’t the fans and players more important to you than bowing to a little outside pressure from that foundation? What a disappointing performance. Even though the football team lost they certainly performed better than the institution that was supposed to support the players, the team and the fans.
Kent Pilling Ph.D