When a person wants to be taken out to the ballgame, they probably don’t assume it will also be a recruiting platform for Christian fundamentalist evangelicals. But that’s exactly what’s been happening, thanks to an organization calling itself “Third Coast Sports.”
Part of the evangelical movement in America has been a ferocious effort to insert itself into every area of human experience it can. A particularly strong effort has been made to use sports as a fundamentalist farm, growing new converts like weeds.
Big name sports stars claim God and Jesus are the reasons for their success, and impressionable youth sometimes believe them. They miss the vile conclusion a person would have to draw, if that were true. To make the supposition that a deity involves itself in sports while ignoring realities like dying children should make anyone wretch. But the showy, performance oriented events put a glossy sheen, glorifying faith.
According to it’s website, Third Coast Sports “is a non-profit ministry focused on reaching today’s generation for Christ through sports and music,” that “has partnered with over 60 professional sports teams to organize, promote and execute successful events that seek to provide churches with opportunities for outreach and churchwide fellowship.”
While patently offensive to the non-evangelical just on content grounds alone, what Third Coast Sports is doing also crosses what should be a more defined line between what a church does and the public square.
As highlighted and explained here, almost all major sports operations depend a great deal on public money. Especially when it comes to the high cost involved building sports arenas. Sporting venues built with public funds should not be turned into churches.
That’s not to say religious groups shouldn’t be allowed to rent stadiums for their crusades and revivals. It is to say, however, that to allow them to do so by mating themselves to a sporting event is a subterfuge they should not be allowed to get away with.
Even if the evangelical event happens after the game, patrons are still aware of it, and are subject to proselytizing during the game. It doesn’t say much for religion that after 2,000 years the churches still have to hound baseball fans in an attempt to recruit.
The CEO of Third Coast Sports, Mike Snider, grew up in the Portland, Oregon area and was a high school sports standout. After graduating from Oregon State University on a football scholarship and working in construction, he moved to Nashville in 1996. A few years later, he began working to bring fundamentalist style evangelism to sporting events.
As a freethinker who likes baseball, I would like to be assured that if I buy a ticket for a game, I am not going to be subjected to religious recruitment. Even if that doesn’t bother you, consider that public money is being used to further a religious agenda.