Saturday, August 27, 2005

The True Religion of America

Last night I was reminded of the fact that the largest group of religious believers in the United States is not Evangelicals or Roman Catholics -- it's football fans, particularly high school football fans. In certain parts of the country, like the South, Pennsylvania, Ohio, California and Texas, the holy temple is the football stadium and the primary sacrament is the touchdown.

It seems like there are more people in the stands for a Friday night high school football game in most towns than there are in local churches for Sunday morning services. One of the distinguishing factors of mega-churches is that their services tend to resemble major sporting events (or perhaps rock concerts) more than traditional modes of worship. They often feature stadium seating for thousands, have great PA systems, and encourage attendees to make a lot of noise.

I recently had the pleasure to see a thrilling high school football game between our local high school, Grayson, and East Coweta, a neighboring rival. Grayson's Rams scored the go-ahead touchdown in the last two minutes of play and stopped the Indians' comeback drive with an interception in the end zone as the buzzer sounded. It was quite a rush. I grew up in an area in Central Pennsylvania where football was worshipped with equal fervor, so I understand the appeal of the sport.

Local football teams pull the people in nearby areas together and give them a cause to root for. They provide a sense of local identity and pride and also allow some level of aggression to be worked off on the field instead of in more dangerous forms of violence.

It would be nice if conflicts between religious and political liberals and conservatives could be settled on the field, but I'm afraid that right now those arguments are being settled in "stadiums" in Bagdad and on the ground between the Tigris and Euphrates with weapons more potent than fullbacks and wide receivers.

I wonder if there are any sports around enjoyed by both Sunni's and Shi'ites where the two groups could work out their differences on the field instead of under it.

My best -- Dave


Anonymous Paul said...

Soccer may be agreeable to both sides!

10:40 AM  

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