Sunday, January 19, 2014

Puckish Providence Church Sign Challenges the New England Faithful

Today is Championship Sunday, when the NFC and the AFC determines which teams go on to the Superbowl XVIII at the Meadowlands in New Jersey on February 2nd, 2014.

Ordinarily, football fans have regional loyalties which almost rival religious affiliation.  The Boston Patriots changed their name to the New England Patriots when the AFC team moved to a new stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts (32 miles from the Hub) in 1971 to embrace all of New England.  The Patriots string of Superbowl championships in 2001, 2003 and 2004 under the helm of  Coach Bill Belichick and the leadership of Quarterback Tom Brady has solidified Patriots fans for many years. 

Thus it was surprising to see this photograph of the First Baptist Church in Providence, Rhode Island (20 miles from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough). 

While this church sign was almost certainly put up by a puckish football contrarian, it does elicit some further thought.  The dedication to Roger Williams, the religious leader who founded Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, is significant.  Roger Williams is also well known for the notion that soul liberty and freedom of conscience were gifts from God, and that everyone had the natural right to freedom of religion.   Williams left England and parted ways from the Puritans in  Plymouth Colony in 1634  to not submit to state religion. 

Howard Cosell likened American football fanaticism to being like a secular religion.  The First Baptist Church "sign master" mirrored Roger Williams rejection of state compelled belief in rooting for the Broncos. 

There is no word about the First Baptist Church of Providence's job status at this time.

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