This one time, at Jesus Camp....
It's time for the Friday Forum, Edition #2. Today's topic is the FCA, which is the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and its public school sponsorships.
Let me start by saying that I am a member of the Catholic church, my kids attend Catholic school. I am not anti-Christian. I may not be, nor have I ever been athletic, but I am not anti-athlete.
I did some research- not extensive, but I went to the FCA site. I found out that "Since 1954, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes has been challenging coaches and athletes on the professional, college, high school, junior high and youth levels to use the powerful medium of athletics to impact the world for Jesus Christ." I don't find that to be too earth-shattering. Their mission statement is "To present to athletes and coaches and all whom they influence the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church." As an organization, I can't see anything wrong with it. Those who wish to join, join. Those who don't, don't. There doesn't seem to be any message to those not wishing to join that they are less worthy than those who do, and I don't get that from people who are part of it, either.
I do question, however, its place in a public school. I asked one of my students who is a member if non-athletes could join, and he said no. Makes sense. I asked if Jewish kids could join. (I have a great rapport with this kid and have known him for 3 years now- it was a very friendly conversation.) He said very matter-of-factly that unless they believed in Jesus, then no. Again, makes sense. But what message does that send to our students- especially when a prominent faculty member is the advisor of the group? What does it say to the Jewish kids, the kids whose families do not practice any religion-and there are many, the Unitarian kids, the Muslim kids (I don't think we have any), the Buddhist kids (we have a few, mostly Vietnamese), the Wiccan kids? Doesn't it exclude them in an institution that is supposed to accept all of them? Do they get around it because they meet outside of the school day?
Plus, honestly, I just don't get the juxtaposition of religion and athletics. (Unless it's a Hail-Mary pass) Call me crazy, but I just don't.
I know that many kids could use a little Jesus in their otherwise messed up lives. I know that. But is a public school the place?
*PS: Claire attended a Christian sleep-away camp last summer- with more of a focus on the camp than the Christian. Great experience- will send her back. Yes, I saw the movie Jesus Camp and although I was deeply disturbed by it, I don't think everyone who is a Christian is like that.