UConn President Calls Audible on Jesus in the Huddle

It appears that new Connecticut running backs coach Ernest T. Jones is having a difficult time adjusting in his transition from Notre Dame to a public institution at UConn.  Also assigned to be the director of player engagement, Jones has taken a spiritual approach, offering to assist players of any religion to pursue their faith and reach out to like-minded people in the community.  Sounds impartial and inclusive, right?  Then he kept talking:

We’re going to make sure they understand that Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle, that that’s something that is important. If you want to be successful and you want to win, get championships then you better understand that this didn’t happen because of you. This happened because of our Lord and Savior… That’s who we are.

Slow your roll, Husky.  That approach may have been ok at Notre Dame, a Catholic university, but at a public one… not so much.

Christianity has long been apparent at football games, both in college and in the NFL.  From player prayer circles after games, to prayers for injured players, to Tim Tebow on one knee after touchdowns, to Ray Lewis hailing Jesus Christ’s apparent favoritism toward the Batimore Ravens winning lat year’s Super Bowl.  News flash:  If there is a god, he probably doesn’t give a shit about millionaire athletes running around a field, trying to decapitate each other in an effort to be the last one holding a football.  And if he’s choosing the Super Bowl over millions of starving children, then he can suck it.

But anyway…

Just as the wagons began circling from the blogosphere and organizations like Americans United, the school’s president, Susan Herbst, responded:

Every student, including student-athletes, must know they are accepted and welcomed at UConn. Always. Our staff should educate and guide students, to ensure they are well-prepared for life at UConn and beyond. But it should go without saying that our employees cannot appear to endorse or advocate for a particular religion or spiritual philosophy as part of their work at the university, or in their interactions with our students. This applies to work-related activity anywhere on or off campus, including on the football field. Our athletic director and Coach Diaco agree wholeheartedly with me, and have made this clear to their staff.

Good for you, prez.  It’s refreshing to see action taken to correct blatant violations of the Constitution before lawsuits get filed.  Herbst saved the University of Connecticut a boatload of legal fees with this statement, but the watchdogs are on alert.  You can guarantee that church/state advocacy groups will be checking in on Coach Jones to be sure he’s keeping Jesus out of the huddle.  Should he ever get promoted to Offensive Coordinator, opposing defenses would be wise to prepare for plenty of Hail Mary passes.  (What, too much?)

Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis is the head writer and editor for SecularVoices, co-founder of Young Skeptics, and author of Understanding an Atheist. He is known for local and national secular activism and has spoken at conferences and events such as Reason Rally 2016 and the Ark Encounter Protest and Rally.

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