Football, Faith, and Freedom

February 4, 2018
By Jim Callis, Head of School, Mt. Bethel Christian Academy

Parents of our sixth graders met recently to learn more about the capstone trip to Washington, DC at the end of May. Among the many things we will see there is an early copy of the Bill of Rights housed in the National Archives. Through low light and squinting eyes, students will strain to read the faded 229-year-old ink. And though the entire document represents indescribable importance, I am always careful to point out to them the first sixteen words, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Without those words, I remind them, there very well may be no Mt. Bethel – church or school.

In the news this week, I was again reminded of our religious freedom as I watched an interview with Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Nick Foles. After nearly deciding to retire, Nick became an unlikely hero, leading the Eagles to their third Super Bowl in franchise history. Asked about how important that fateful decision to return to football was, Nick offered this,

“I look at it like I’m grateful to be up here, I’m grateful to have this opportunity to speak, to play in this game, but at the same time, if I would’ve made the other decision, my life wouldn’t have been a loss. I would have done something else and glorified God in that instance. The reason I decided to come back is I loved the game of football since I was a kid. I loved playing sports, loved being part of a team. I knew as a person the more growth I would have, the more opportunity to glorify God and trust in Him was to go back and play football because of everything I had encountered. It took a lot more faith to go back and play than if it would have gone the other direction. Either way, I would’ve been fine. I know I would’ve trusted in God.”

Hearing Nick’s words made me grateful for two things. First, our first amendment which gives Nick and other believers the opportunity to serve God and proclaim His name without the fear of reprisal or worse – a very real fear in many parts of the world. The second is that America’s children can see an athlete competing at the highest level on sport’s biggest stage, proclaim an unapologetic relationship with Christ. Whether his team wins or not, Nick’s presence in the SuperBowl is a powerful testimony. So whether you’re cheering for the Pats or the Eagles, you might consider joining me for a silent prayer during the anthem – a prayer of thanksgiving that God’s name is still proclaimed in our land. May it always be so, amen.

Blessings,

Jim R. Callis
Head of School