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Should Atheists Target the N.F.L. Next?

With the Super Bowl coming up in less than two weeks — and yes, thanks, my team made it — it’s worth considering what sort of end-zone demonstrations will be allowed and which will not. Here’s Mike Pereira, the N.F.L.’s outgoing head of officials, with an explanation from earlier this year:

If you don’t feel like watching the video, here’s what Pereira has to say:

The whole issue is, you can’t go to the ground on your knees or with your hand or anything. There’s only one time that you’re going to be allowed to go on your knee after you score like this, and that’s when you want to praise the Lord. If you do that, then I’m going to allow that, because I do not want to be struck by lightning, I promise you that. We will allow that.

This isn’t very surprising, perhaps, given the N.F.L.’s long-standing embrace, on many levels, of Christian values. Many players and officials, for instance, regularly attend chapel services; after a game, you can see players from both teams join a prayer circle near midfield.
But still, I smell a case for the American Humanist Association or some atheists’ rights group. The A.H.A. and others recently tried — and failed — to have the phrase “So help me God” removed from the presidential oath of office. Maybe it’s time for them to tackle the N.F.L. Why is it O.K. to praise the Lord but not, say, make a snow angel? If the atheists can’t gain any traction in the N.F.L., maybe they can take on Tim Tebow with his “John 3:16” eyeblack patches.


Related: see what some N.F.L. folks have to say about Barack Obama as president.
(Hat tip: Annitra Morrison.)