Let me talk about a coach I had whom I will never forget. What an interesting man he was; truly one of a kind. And unfortunately, I do not mean that in a good way. He was the most radically religious, closed-minded, intolerant man I have ever known.
Having played multiple sports my entire life, I had more coaches than I can count. I looked up to some, others I didn’t. A few I played with for many years, and some for only a short while. But one stuck out like a sore thumb, my high school baseball coach. A previous minor league baseball star, about 35 years of age during the time I played with him. A very, very passionate man. Let me tell you about him…
I am unaware of the family dynamic he came from or his religious upbringing. What I do know is that he described himself as a nondenominational Christian, which just means he wasn’t formally aligned with an established church. Many people use the phrase “on fire for god” to describe somebody who is very loud and outspoken about their religious beliefs, and it was ludicrous just how ‘on fire’ he was. Many of us saw it as obnoxious and ignorant.
After practices, he would make us stay to pray and recite Bible verses, sometimes for up to 2 hours. And if you tried to leave, you were kicked off the team. As teenagers, we were ostracized and made out to believe we were bad people if we were unsure of our beliefs. “Remember kids, God will send you to hell if you don’t listen to everything I say.”
I remember when I was 17, a picture of me got posted on Facebook holding a beer, and there was also a Snapchat video of me acting drunk at a party. It was safe and harmless, nothing out of the norm for a teenager’s first exposure to drinking. Well, shortly thereafter coach called me into his office (he was also the dean of men at the school) and told me my actions were solidifying me a spot in hell and that I needed to repent right in front of him.
Are you fucking kidding me? How can you look a 17-year-old dead in the eye and tell him he will go to hell if he drinks and does not repent right in front of you? I have never been religious and it was the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. I smugly walked right out of his office. I never said a word about that day to anybody, but it solidified my disbelief in god and turned me off entirely to religion, forever.
My point is, there comes a time where overly religious people give the belief system a bad name. I certainly realize that not every person of the Christian faith is like my coach. However, unfortunately, I have witnessed first-hand that these people do exist. They are influencing young people who have no experience to base their beliefs off, and it’s dangerous.
Again, this is not a slam on religious people. It’s a slam on my coach and others alike.