Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Jesus Loves Football in South Carolina

A South Carolina publication has a look at the combination of football and Christianity in that state. Some public school coaches are apparently taking their students to Christian football camps that combine athletics with religion:

In July, coaches and players from across South Carolina descended upon the campus of USC-Upstate in Spartanburg to better their games and themselves.

During a three-day Fellowship of Christian Athletes football camp, teams did 7-on-7 drills and lineman challenges. But the camp also served another purpose — to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nightly devotions were held, and many players turned over their lives to honoring Christ.

“We’ve done it two years in a row, and it’s the best thing we ever did,” Hemingway coach Ken Cribb said. “We brought 36 kids (to Spartanburg) and 32 of them gave themselves to Christ.”

Hemingway is Hemingway High School, which is in the Williamsburg County School District and is a public high school. And they’re not alone. Some schools evidently bring their whole teams to this camp:

“We went to church as a team one time and I found out that many of our kids had never seen the inside of a church,” Lamar coach J.R. Boyd said. “We went to FCA camp as well and many of my kids were saved in the process.”

Many coaches have reported that team camaraderie has increased significantly after attending FCA camp.

“As Christians, we want to let everyone hear the gospel. As teachers and coaches, we have to watch what we say most time,” Davis said. “But I will say that FCA camp is the best team-building opportunity a team can have.”

Lamar is part of the Darlington County School District and is also a public school. Now I have no problem with kids deciding to go on their own to a religious camp of any kind, but when their public school coaches are involved with those camps there is an automatic pressure to attend even if it is never made explicit.

If you want a spot on the team, you go to football camp. And if your coach works at the FCA football camp, you go to that football camp. But when you’re there, the religion is also mandatory. That’s a serious problem.