This week we honor a man who utilized his worldview and passionate ecumenical rhetoric to fight for what he believed to be right. The civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King is widely regarded as the most influential and righteous social movement in American history, and Dr. King made sure that it was rooted in a strong Judeo- Christian ethic.

Last week the new running backs coach for the University of Connecticut asserted that he would use this same ethic to help his players develop socially, physically and spiritually into upstanding young men. He said that he and other coaches would work to build a “non denominational fellowship” where players will be allowed to “love the God that they love” and to “make sure that Jesus Christ should be at the center of the huddle.”

From his statements it appears as if Coach Ernest Jones is attempting to unite people of a diverse background to achieve set of goals; victory and moral consciousness. Sound familiar?

Of course in today’s world the vanguards of “political correctness,” who invoke the Constitutional principle of separation of church from state in error, will not stand for this type of thought or rhetoric. Shortly after Jones’ comments UCONN president Susan Herbst released this statement:

“At public universities we value everyone in our community, and treat each person with the same degree of respect, regardless of who they are, what their background is, or what their beliefs may be…” .”Every student, including student-athletes, must know they are accepted and welcomed at UConn. Always. Our staff should educate and guide students, to ensure they are well-prepared for life at UConn and beyond. But it should go without saying that our employees cannot appear to endorse or advocate for a particular religion or spiritual philosophy as part of their work at the university, or in their interactions with our students. This applies to work-related activity anywhere on or off campus, including on the football field…”

President Herbst’s statement reflects the dogma of the modern intellectual movement which clearly states that there is no tolerance for diverse religious thought, especially Christian thought, within an institution that heralds itself as a bastion of tolerance and diversity.

When did we stray so far from the beliefs that fueled the civil rights movement and why do we attempt to quell the same religious thoughts and actions in which Dr. King believed, but still give our kids his day off from school?

I’m sure President Herbst would tell you that the answer lies in the First Amendment and separation of church and state. But the First Amendment declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of a religion or prohibiting the free exercise there of.”

Are we to deduce from this that no public employee should be allowed to express their religious beliefs on or off duty? That is surely not what the Founders meant by separation of church and state.

If you take the principles laid forth in the 1st Amendment and apply them to our case at hand, one could say that it is UCONN that is in doctrinal violation not Coach Jones.

Nowhere did Coach Jones say that one established belief would be required for participation in the UCONN football program nor did he say that non-believers wouldn’t be treated with respect. He did not even say that his players have to agree with him. He is merely encouraging that they be open to his worldview and method of teaching.

Is this not the same thing professors subject their students to, or are we witnessing what has come to be a common over reaction towards religious expression? Ostracizing and defaming  those who even mention Jesus Christ has unfortunately become our modus operandi. 

MLK photo

President Herbst on the other hand has effectively sought to eliminate the espousing of any religious belief that Coach Jones or any other UCONN employee may have. Her statement prohibits employees from endorsing their worldview on or off campus, which appears to this writer as a prohibition against being ones true self.


Coach Jones’ religion is obviously a big part of who he is as a football coach and a man. In an age where college administrators encourage people to be themselves and stand up for what they believe in, the fact that he can’t attempt to use his religious influence is a direct affront to diversity and stands in violation of these very principles.

Opponents of Jones claim that his views may make non-religious players feel unwelcome. But has anyone even asked the players whether they agree or disagree with Jones’ methods? In reality attention was not drawn to Jones’s comments by player discontent, but rather by a 58 year old West Hartford resident who wrote a letter to the Courant claiming that she felt “alienated” by the coaches’ comments.

So in an attempt to protect football players who may disagree with the running back coaches’ world view, a non student has demanded that UCONN essentially tell  employees of all religions that the expression of their views is not welcomed on or off campus. Is this the new face of tolerance? If it is do we really think that our college aged adults cannot handle being exposed to different worldviews?.

For all the lip service paid to freedom of speech, freedom of religion and tolerance it is disheartening to see a man prohibited from expressing his beliefs simply because he is Christian and works for the State. Is a person really religiously free if they are prohibited from speaking of it? “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” These words written by Dr. King are an unfortunate reminder of the situation faced by Coach Jones and others on the UCONN football team today in a society that is supposedly religiously free.

One of the Ironies of this whole situation is that students of the Connecticut University system are taught by professors who place a heavy emphasis on their own consistent biases and worldviews. As a Political Science major at CCSU I sit through lectures everyday that are in direct confrontation with my own beliefs, yet I don’t call the Anti Defamation League or the ACLU to complain. Why? Because Universities are allegedly institutions of diverse culture and thought.

Martin Luther King is heralded as one of the greatest leaders of diversity and tolerance in American history, and yet it was his own Christian worldview from which he drew the ideas that sparked historic legislation and a much needed moral awakening within our country. The man that said “the goal of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together” is held in hero’s regard as a someone who united this country, yet a man who wishes use the Lord to unite his football players is vilified.

Reactions from those who have demagogued the First Amendment into something that completely prohibits expression of religious beliefs in public life, leads one to wonder whether or not UCONN would have allowed Dr. King to coach its running backs.

(Pictures courtesy of: and

Andrew is a political science major at CCSU, a tax consultant with Alternate Tax Solutions and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.