Christian Beliefs Disqualify Coach

In April 2002, the Daily Nebraskan reported that Stanford University denied the head coaching job to University of Nebraska assistant football coach Ron Brown because of his religious beliefs. Not surprisingly, one of the major objections to Brown was his belief that homosexual behavior is sinful. Alan Glenn, Stanford's assistant athletic director of human resources, said Brown's religion was not the determining factor, but admitted to the student newspaper that it "was definitely something that had to be considered. We're a very diverse community with a diverse alumni." Apparently not diverse enough, however, to permit the hiring of an outspoken Christian coach. Brown himself seemed to believe religion was a very important factor in the school's decision. In a column he wrote for Sharing the Victory, a Fellowship of Christian Athletes publication, Brown said, "After the first interview, the athletic director vacillated whether to bring me on campus for a final interview. After deliberation he decided not to, with the explanation that he did not believe that my Christian convictions would mesh well with that university They seemed to have no problem with the notion of squelching or eliminating one because of his representation of Jesus Christ."

Courtney Wooten, a Stanford sophomore and social director of Stanford's Queer-Straight Social and Political Alliance, said, "Wow, it would be really hard for him here. He would be poorly received by the student body in general." But a Nebraska student didn't see it that way. Ryan Wilkins, president of the Association of Students, said, "The Stanford decision sends a dangerous message. He's a football coach. Judge him on whether his players play well on the field, whether his players respect him, or whether his players graduate. Don't hire or disrespect a man because he carries a Bible in his suitcase."

Coach Brown was shocked at the decision and the school's unapologetic openness about it. "If I'd been discriminated against for being black," said Brown, "they would have never told me that. They had no problem telling me it was because of my Christian beliefs." Brown noted that it was ironic that a prestigious school founded on religious principles no longer welcomes Christians. Brown was clear that he would not betray his beliefs or silence himself in the future over the school's rejection of him. "I don't believe you compromise any truth for whatever job," said Brown. Brown also said, commendably, that he would not attempt artificially to separate his faith from his job. "I'm a Christian Ron Brown, period One thing I've tried not to do is separate my coaching from who I am. Some people have a problem with that. They want to separate my coaching from my faith in Christ. I can't do that. That would be a huge hypocrisy. You have to be who you are," he said. "This thing about following Jesus Christ isn't flag football. It's for real You can't straddle the line." Brown also said he believed anti-Christian discrimination is happening nationwide. Alex Van Riesen, of the Stanford chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, said the incident against Brown is not the first of its kind.

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