Dabo Swinney, the Religious Right, and Freedom From Religion

If you haven’t heard yet, Dabo Swinney (the head football coach at Clemson University) is being called on the carpet by a group because he’s hired a team chaplain, organizes a church day for his team and prays as a team. There are other issues, according to this Wisconsin-based group – like he is vocal about his faith, he allows team bible studies, and apparently he let one of his players get baptized in the school pond.

I’m just going to tell you right now – there aren’t a lot of likable characters in this drama.

I understand some of the concern. Nobody wants religion shoved down their throats. And you know that the Religious Right would have wild-eyed fit if he was pushing Mormonism or Judaism or Islam. I’m a pastor and even I think Dabo (the most awesomest name ever) should be a bit more careful in how handles his faith. I’m all for being bold but I’m also all for being smart as well.

To his credit – he’s been like that from day one. Anybody who has ever met him or even listened to him talk for more than 10 minutes knows this. Every player that walks on the Clemson campus knows this as well. It should be noted that not one current or former Clemson player has come forward to complain about the way Dabo runs the team or that he has been unfair due to religious beliefs.

That’s not to say that he has never made his players feel uncomfortable or awkward. I’m sure he has and does every practice. It’s what coaches do. That goes on in every locker room in the country. It just so happens we have an organization that makes sure that this only happens with harsh language, coarse joking, insulting humor, and demoralizing insults but never religion or human decency.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that we have an organization watching out for these horrific activities on our college campuses. Clemson needs to get away from this Jesus stuff and get back to being a football school.

You know, schools like Florida State (Winston rape/murder charge), Oklahoma (Uzis in the dorm), Florida (stealing computers), Ohio State (free cars & tattoos), Auburn (drug usage), Alabama (ATM thefts), Penn State (child rape) or even Miami (take your pick).

That is what I think is really messed up about this whole ordeal. The same media that was screaming to give Jameis Winston a “fair deal” about his rape allegations is going to absolutely crucify Dabo Swinney. By the way, did you know the same week this group filed charges against Dabo Swinney, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights started investigating Florida State on how they handled the Winston case? Pretty ironic.

My guess is that Clemson will have to do a little public relations song and dance but that’s about it. Dabo may have to quit driving the bus on Church Day. Faith and football have been mixed together in the South since day one. Don’t think this is going to change that.


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