Nel's New Day

February 3, 2013

God & the Super Bowl

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:22 AM
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Today San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens face off for the 47th Super Bowl played this year in New Orleans. A 30-second ad on the broadcast costs $3.8 million. Last year over 111 million people watched the game. Last minute ticket purchases are still possible—from $1,322 to $136,380.

The Public Religion Research Institute decided to find out how many people thought that God could help their side win in a football game. More than one-fourth of people in the United States think that God will help them win. Twice that many think that God rewards athletes with good health and success if they have faith.

More Protestants than other religions believe in God’s support for football victory, and other one-third of people in the South are convinced that God determines the winners.


The PRRI poll concluded, “Americans say religion is significantly more important to their lives than their fan affiliation, but they are about as likely to watch sports each week as they are to attend religious services.”

Sports illustrated cover Sports Illustrated had the same fascination with the Sunday service of sports. Mark Oppenheimer, religion column for The New York Times, tackled the connection between “church and pro football.” NFL players point to heaven, pray on their knees and thank Jesus in post-game interviews. Ray Lewis, featured on the cover, will wear his customary black T-shirt that says PSALMS 91, and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, if successful on a big play, will kiss either his tattoo of the words GOD TO GLORY or the one that reads FAITH.

The question that both Oppenheimer and I have, however, is whether the violent lifestyle of many wealthy NFL players contradicts Christian philosophy. A conflict also comes from biblical passages emphasizing the weak over the strong and the poor at the expense of the rich while it directs people to keep the Sabbath holy.

Many religious leaders state that football builds character and thereby makes a man more of a Christian—a commingling of faith and football now accepted by fans.“God loves us just the way we are” says Les Steckel, a former NFL head and assistant coach, who now is president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, “but at the same time he does require excellence. And in the NFL, performance is ultimate.”

Those who see someone like Ray Lewis as depicting excellence might want to consider that he was involved in a double murder 13 years ago. The extent of his involvement was not made public, but he pleaded guilty to obstructing justice. The suit he wore at the murder was never found, and he has never spoken to the families of the victims. The transcripts of his dispositions were never made public. Ray Lewis was involved in a double murder in January of 2000. While no one knows the extent of his involvement, he did plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice and the suit he was wearing was never found.

In a time when the country has a high incidence of gun deaths, an increasing number of children go to bed hungry, the streets fill with homeless, the incidence of domestic violence grows, and the United States increasingly ignores people in need, we pay for $3.8 million 30-second spots and $100,000+ tickets. And allow celebrities to get away with murder.

November 19, 2011

Police Fight the Occupy Movement

What are the police doing about the Occupy Movement? A Google search shows 131,000,000 hits on police abuse in relation to the Occupiers, most of them describing police officers using pepper spray and nightsticks. For example, the image of an 84-year-old woman has received a huge number of hits. Anyone following the Occupy Movement in the news also remembers the abuse of the Oakland police resulting in an Iraq veteran losing his ability to speak because of  police actions. When the police don’t brutalize the protesters, they intimidate them.

Kicked out of  Zucotti Park, some demonstrators took refuge in churches and other shelters. As several of them slept at a United Methodist church on the Upper West Side, a plainclothes detective walked through the sanctuary, apparently counting heads. At the same time, his partner was asking questions at a homeless shelter in the church’s basement. “It is disconcerting that they would actually enter the sanctuary,” said the Rev. James Karpen, known as Reverend K, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, on West 86th Street. “Here we had offered hospitality and safety, which is our business as a church; it just felt invasive.”

Another police action is to ticket and threaten citizens for minor offences. An example is the $60 ticket for honking a horn in Denver (CO). After Daniel Garcia supported the protesters by honking his horn two or three times (something I do occasionally in my small Northwest town), he was pulled over by the police. According to the officer, there’s a city ordinance against honking in a non-emergency situation. The police officer actually searched the car, including the trunk. After ticketing Garcia, the officer said, “If I see you over here again, we’ll pull you over and impound your car for disturbing the peace.”

According to Garcia, his court date is December 23 (Happy Holidays!), and he plans to plead not guilty. The day after he received his ticket he watched another officer ticket someone who stopped to pick up a protester at the park. Other Denver residents reported being ticketed for stopping to drop off supplies for the protesters.

In Portland (OR) Police Chief Mike Reese told the media that the Occupy Movement was keeping them from important business—like investigating a rape. In fact, the 9-1-1 call for the case came during the day rather than during large-scale Portland police deployments and involved a sexual assault that had happened two days earlier. The police had already indicated that they didn’t consider that call a top priority emergency call.

The Police Executive Research Forum, an international non-governmental organization with ties to law enforcement and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been coordinating conference calls with major metropolitan mayors and police chiefs to advise them on policing matters and discuss response to the Occupy movement. On November 17, PERF Executive Director Chuck Wexler acknowledged PERF’s coordination of a series of conference-call strategy sessions with big-city police chiefs. These calls were distinct from the widely reported national conference calls of major metropolitan mayors.

PERF has issued a guide against the Occupy Movement that encourages the use of undercover officers and snatch squads to “grab the bad guys and remove them from the crowd” and urges local law enforcement to use social media to map the Occupy movement. An earlier guide advocates the use of embedded media to control police messages, the use of undercover cops to infiltrate protest groups, the use and pitfalls of preemptive mass arrest, an examination of the use of less-than-lethal crowd control weapons, and general discussion weighing the use of force in crowd control.

TV watchers cheer when the protesters in the Middle East emerge victorious against tyrants but criticize anyone who wants equality in theUnited States. They encourage anti-Obama protesters to carry weapons but ridicule protesters who refuse to leave a site because they believe in equality.

According to writer Joshua Holland, probably 97 percent of police act professionally toward protesters.  One of the 97 percent is  former Philadelphia police captain Ray Lewis who was arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protests.  “They complained about the park being dirty,” he said. “Here they are worrying about dirty parks when people are starving to death, where people are freezing, where people are sleeping in subways and they’re concerned about a dirty park. That’s obnoxious, it’s arrogant, it’s ignorant, it’s disgusting.”

The other 3 percent are armed and dangerous and know that they’re unlikely to be held accountable. It’s time to do something about the 3 percent who are working for the top 1 percent.



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