After refusing to grant IDer Guillermo Gonzalez tenure as an astronomy professor, Iowa State University is back in the religion news again this weekend.
It seems that the school’s football coach, Gene Chizik, thinks his boys need divine inspiration, and he’s willing to solicit private donations to hire an official team chaplain. ISU’s athletic director, Jamie Pollard, thinks the coach’s idea is heavenly. According to an AP story on May 31, Pollard claims that his “student-athletes are under a lot of pressure and need access to spiritual guidance.” Neither Chizik nor Pollard specify why the players couldn’t receive such guidance in a church, but it’s obvious. The coach will order some heavy-duty praying done precisely at a moment when his team needs supernatural help to score a touchdown, or, if the deity is feeling stingy about points that day, at least a field goal. Christ, apparently, gets his kicks on the football field.
What a tawdry little godlet sports figures seem to have. The character they pray to gives a shit whether or not they make a first down on the next play. That’s why Chizik’s Jesus died on the cross, so the Cyclones can out-score their opponents. “Forgive them, Father, for they’ve got fifty bucks on the game.”
But the world of reason has not yet succumbed to the outrageous. Well, at least not in Ames, Iowa. A large number of faculty and staff — reports differ as to whether it’s 100 or 126 — have the audacity to believe that there actually is a separation of church and state in this country, and that such separation should be operative on the football field at a public institution. That’s why they’ve signed a petition to present to Iowa State’s Athletics Council.
One of the prime movers of the petition was atheist Hector Avalos, a professor of religion studies at ISU. The fundies already have their pious panties in a twist over him. According to the Discovery Institute (and no, I’m not going to link to them), Avalos “led the charge against Gonzalez and intelligent design on ISU's campus, helping to draft a 2005 petition denouncing intelligent design that ultimately was signed by more than 120 ISU faculty.” Interestingly, Avalos was promoted to a full professorship at the very same time that Gonzalez was denied tenure.
So far, the tally is Avalos 1, Theocrats 0. The Theocrats’ offense is tough, though, and they’ll be fighting hard in this next contest to even up the score. We Avalos fans probably won’t need to paint our faces, but let’s do what we can to show our support. Gimme an A! Gimme a V! ....