June 6, 2006


The Rockies Pitch Religion (Dave Zirin, 6/02/06, The Nation)

I spoke with journalist Tom Krattenmaker, who has studied the connection between religion and sports. Krattenmaker said, "I have concerns about what this Christianization of the Rockies means for the community that supports the team in and around Denver--a community in which evangelical Christians are probably a minority, albeit a large and influential one. Taxpayers and ticket-buyers in a religiously diverse community have a right not to see their team--a quasi-public resource--used for the purpose of advancing a specific form of religion."

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 6, 2006 1:58 PM

Uh-oh. The Rockies CEO is named Montfort. We may wonder whether any Albigensians find this offensive.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 6, 2006 4:30 PM

The right not to see their team....

Must have missed that right in civics class. Must be sandwiched somewhere between that darned right to an abortion and right to smoke some quality weed.

Posted by: Dreadnought at June 6, 2006 4:31 PM

The International Socialist Review, I wonder what their view of religion and those that practice it are?

Posted by: paul s at June 6, 2006 5:44 PM

The argument seems rational to me. Baseball franchises are heavily subsidized by taxpayer money. Why should the First Amendment not apply?

The best argument I can come up with for the Rockies is that even though they are heavily subsidized, they are not engaging in actual governing and thus might be immune from the First Amendment requirements.

Posted by: Pepys at June 6, 2006 5:46 PM

Pepys: The whole story is bogus, and was apparently ripped to shreds by the local Denver media not long after the original article.

Posted by: b at June 6, 2006 6:00 PM

Why don't we get dunned to pay for player salaries then?

Posted by: oj at June 6, 2006 6:14 PM

Why is "Congress" so hard to understand?

Posted by: David Cohen at June 6, 2006 6:39 PM

Congress shall make no law prohibiting not attending a ...

drat! let me try again.

(infernal baseball!)

Posted by: James Madison at June 6, 2006 6:43 PM

I was at a Rockies game in Denver just a few days ago and, try though I might, I somehow don't remember any Christian proselytization.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at June 6, 2006 6:52 PM

Bogus or not, we do get dunned for player salaries. The owners might not call it that, but when you subsidize coliseums etc. you are paying for the players salaries.

If tax money is used for a stadium or arena, why would the First Amendment not apply.

D Cohen: You know it's not as simple as "Congress". The Supreme Court has held that State or Federal funds may not be used to establish a religion. An earlier court would have eagerly regulated such behavior on that basis. Perhaps this incarnation would not, who knows?

Posted by: Pepys at June 6, 2006 7:43 PM

Peyps, Had the same thought, but where is the line? State and Federal funds build roads that go to churches, etc......... The possibilities are endless.

Posted by: jdkelly at June 6, 2006 8:02 PM

JDK: I try to think about Con Law as little as possible, but the road issue isn't a problem as long as the gov is neutral in its actions. If it were to prefer one religion over others, that would be a problem. Now, if the state were to place Celtic Crosses along the roadside or in a park or in a courthouse, that would be trouble. That looks to me like the situation here. State funds built and maintain the stadium, therefore, no one should be permitted to use it to "establish" a particular religion. Just like a courthouse or national park.

Posted by: Pepys at June 6, 2006 8:11 PM

No, you're paying for a public stadium.

Posted by: oj at June 6, 2006 8:21 PM

That doesn't pass the straight face test OJ.

Posted by: Pepys at June 6, 2006 8:23 PM

Does Newark own the airlines because it built an airport?

Posted by: oj at June 6, 2006 8:29 PM

Sure it does. The idea that paying for the stadium entitles the government to regulate the religious belief of the baseball team or, really, its employees, is nonsense. That would be a violation of the First Amendment.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 6, 2006 8:30 PM

If the concern is that too many of the players, owners, employees etc are of one religion, then there is no basis for regulation.

However, if the concern is the use of a publicly funded stadium by the team, playres or ownership for evangelism or the erection of religious monuments, then you got a problem. Especially if there is only a single religion involved.

Posted by: Pepys at June 6, 2006 8:40 PM

The first action of the first Congress was to hire chaplains. A ballpark used by a private entity seems permissible. The Pope even gave a mass at Yankee stadium.

Posted by: oj at June 6, 2006 8:44 PM

OJ: You think Steinbrenner could put up a creche on top of the Yanks dugout?

Do you think he could allow only the Maronite Church to seek converts within the stadium?

Posted by: Pepys at June 6, 2006 8:50 PM

Yes (there's even a JPII monument in Left). No. I bet you can even call your team the Padres or the Saints.

"Yankee Stadium has been the site of numerous other sporting and cultural events. ... Reverend Billy Graham preached in the stadium on July 20, 1957, and two Popes visited it on three separate occasions: Pope Paul VI on the first papal visit to North America in 1965, and Pope John Paul II in 1969 and 1979. South African leader Nelson Mandela was welcomed in the stadium on June 22, 1990. "

Posted by: oj at June 6, 2006 8:53 PM

Fine by me if it helps Byung-Hyun Kim keep the ball in the park.

Posted by: joe shropshire at June 6, 2006 10:06 PM

I think we're in agreement, OJ. Even if the article was true, I see no violation of the First Amendment alleged. My only point was that the subsidization of The Rockies implicates the First Amendment. Thus, if they expand their program beyond what is in the article, it is quite possible they will run into lawsuits and perhaps adverse judgments.

Posted by: Pepys at June 6, 2006 11:43 PM

Yes, your point was just wrong.

Posted by: oj at June 7, 2006 12:04 AM

Funny how it works like that.

Posted by: Pepys at June 7, 2006 12:17 AM

My only point was that the subsidization of The Rockies implicates the First Amendment.

No, it really doesn't, even under current case law. Catholic schools get vouchers, after all.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 7, 2006 3:49 PM

As I think about this, I realize that the article's claim is exactly backwards. A public stadium authority would be constitutionally prohibited from leasing to a religious organization on the same terms it would lease to a nonreligious organization.

Posted by: David Cohen at June 7, 2006 10:25 PM

O'Dowd, who also received a contract extension, believes that their 27-26 2006 record has resulted from the active intervention of the Almighty. "You look at things that have happened to us this year. You look at some of the moves we made and didn't make. You look at some of the games we're winning. Those aren't just a coincidence. God has definitely had a hand in this."

You can't parody religion any better than what these guys do all on their own. Any GM that wouldn't hire Ted Williams on principle deserves to have God rub their faces in the pine tar.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 7, 2006 11:52 PM

Williams was a loser though, no? And his son treated him the way Jeffrey Dahmer did his victims.

Posted by: oj at June 8, 2006 8:35 AM

Loser? Where are you getting that from? Who cares what his son thinks, the guy just has father issues.

The Rockies are the losers. They rise to 1 game over .500 and the manager thinks that God is shining His light on them for picking players based on their adherence to just one of the many sects that worship Him, and not on ability.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at June 8, 2006 1:00 PM

What did Williams ever win? God hated the Red Sox until they got a bunch of born-agains like Schilling and Timlin.

Posted by: oj at June 8, 2006 3:17 PM