Friday, September 20, 2013

Chattanooga Choo Choo

Christianity disappeared from Morocco and Zoroastrianism nearly disappeared from Iran after the Islamic conquest, but Judaism did not.  Bernard Lewis noted that North Africa's Christianity was linked to the Roman Empire, and Zoroastrianism was linked to the Persian Empire.  Once they lost their link to state power, they lost their faith.

Jews in Persia and in Northwest Africa did not associate their faith with governmental prestige.  Their faith survived.  

If you link your religion to state auspices, you can drain the power from your faith.  

In the September 20, 2013 issue of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Stephen Hargis reported that Whitwell, Tennessee public high school football coach Billy Barnhart bragged about hosting a preseason camp that converted 21 students to evangelical Christianity.
Several residents complained of high school football coaches who coached student athletes in prayer and Bible study.  The complaints prompted the Freedom from Religion Foundation to challenge the use of public school sports as a venue for prayer.

Coach Barnhart complained, "As a Christian, I believe our faith is being attacked at all levels, not just in schools, but in government, and there's organizations trying to do away with Christianity as much as they can."

Barnhart mistook a challenge to his religious use of school sports as an attack on Christianity itself.  Implicitly, Barnhart identifies his religion with the proselytism, prayer and Bible study he promotes as a public school coach.  Barnhart perceives himself as a youth minister.  Any legal challenge to his religious work as a coach, Barnhart feels is a challenge to his entire faith and calling.

Barnhard feels that his religion is vulnerable, and he is right.  
If you link your religion to state auspices, you can drain the power from your faith.  

Please consult Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984), pages 17 and 18.  For more information on sports reporter Stephen Hargis, please visit [accessed 21 September 2013].  The website of the Freedom from Religion Foundation is  For the mention of Zoroaster by John Adams, please consult the post here.  

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