Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday sport – the Sabbath was made for man

Cranmer has been alerted to a debate in the Scottish Parliament on a Sabbath issue unfolding on the Outer Hebrides. It is not quite worthy of a Chariots of Fire treatment, but certainly an increasingly rare witness by a group of Christians intent on challenging society’s inexorable erosion of Sunday’s special status.

From the Jubilee Centre blog it appears that a girls' football team from Back, near Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, reached their national final which is due to be played in Edinburgh on Sunday 25th May. But a number of parents have withdrawn their children, citing ‘religious observance on the isles’.

This has caused Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, to assert that ‘sports should be open to all, regardless of race or religion’, and so he has called on the organisers ‘to avert a situation in which a team in the final would be disqualified simply because of the religious traditions of the families from which they come’.

And Dr John Hayward, the author of the blog, concludes ‘the Western Isles MSP (is) correct to defend the right of his constituents who choose to enjoy their Sundays at church, with immediate family and relatives, for the needy, and for personal rest and relaxation’.

As much as Cranmer’s heart is with the good doctor, and as much as he is a great admirer of Eric Liddell (and indeed of the remarkable film ‘Chariots of Fire’), and as much as his spirit is in sympathy with the well-meaning parents from Back, he feels compelled to state quite unequivocally that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. These are young children who have worked hard to reach the finals, and it seems somewhat mean-spirited to assert a legalistic observance of a Sabbath which, after all, only transmuted to a Sunday after the conversion of the Emperor Constantine when worship of the Son supplanted that of the sun. In any case, the Sabbath stipulations were concerned with labour: one can hardly equate playing football with labour, since none of these children earn their living by it, and if children are not permitted to play on the Sabbath, one had better hide the lego.

And Alasdair Allan MSP is opening a veritable can of worms by demanding that sport be accessible to all ‘regardless of race or religion’. It would be of little consequence in a mono-faith culture in which there is broad consensus of a Sabbath day, but he is demanding in a legislative chamber that sporting bodies ensure that their fixtures are ‘inclusive’. This could potentially halt all games played on Sundays (for the Christians), but also calls into question those held on Saturdays (for the Jews) and those on Fridays (for the Muslims). And since there is no agreed governmental definition of ‘religion’, Cranmer foresees demands to recognise the appointed Sabbath day of the Jedi Knight fraternity, whatever day that be.

The decision to play football on the Sabbath must remain a matter for the individual conscience, and even (for these children) one exercised by their parents, but in a multi-faith context subject to EU supremacy and breathed over by notions of anti-discrimination and individual ‘human rights’, it can no longer be a matter for a legislation. Unless, that is, one is prepared to accept that entire sporting tournaments must be organised around the observance sensitivities of every religious minority.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

18 May 2008 at 15:56  
Blogger Didactophobe said...

I have to agree with you, Cranmer. I have complete sympathy with the considerable faith of many Western Isles people, but children playing in a football match is entirely consistent with the rest and relaxation and, frankly, fun that the Sabbath is supposed to be about. Since Christians keep the Lord's Day, any literal interpretation of the Fourth Commandment is irrelevant, anyway.

18 May 2008 at 16:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your usual well considered common sense. It is just a crying shame our political class are not blessed with even a tiny bit off the stuff.

BTW may I suggest you give anon 15:56 an urgent refund? He is obviously not content with the service round here, so he deserves his hard earned money back.


18 May 2008 at 16:39  
Anonymous egbert toadthrottler said...

my postillion has been struck by lightning

18 May 2008 at 17:24  
Anonymous John said...

Live and let live I say, should we even think about imposing our views on this christian minority, shame on us all, you too Cranmer.

There should always be a place in companionship for the "Eric Liddell's" of this world, it makes things that much richer.

18 May 2008 at 18:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Government are Watching you Cramner, Don't think that
Being dead is going to offer you any Protection.

Just watch it, OK.

18 May 2008 at 18:58  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The Sabbath's not a day for football."

I believe that the actor who played Eric Liddell said those very words in the movie to a young man who was out having some fun after a Church Service. Do you not remember?

18 May 2008 at 22:02  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
i can recall my own shock at hearing of my parents own experience of sunday , religous tracts or more liberally stories , no games , church certainly once a day!!

when mrs thatcher allowed more liberal sunday trading , i wasnt too upset at the time , one could argue it created jobs and grew the economy , how ever i now find this view a bit immature , i wrongly ssumed that our society would be better with more wealth, as though good would follow money in some sort of natural order .the making of good comes from penitence . i came across an interesting inscription
"a father is someone you allways look up to no matter how tall you grow"

i wonder if being "too tall" for sunday may not have had more dire consequences than i realised , leaving the day open to the tracts of the add men and there craft of desires with no antidote .

perhaps the yoof would find it all abit to corsetted , to even give even one day up , when a free download of kerplunkgrandtheftauto4 is avaiable on their ever more portable electronic time wasteing devices , the depths of the bible seemingly not as instantly gratifying as driving a fake dodge viper around a ficticous virtual new york , nor as enlightening it would seem .

i accept grudeingly the attacks that i may be backward looking or even a bit twee , but as for which way of life holds the truth should be defended , we appear to be going somewhere very fast , which to me looks more and more as each day passes like a morally bankrupt desert despite what gordon brown vison says

19 May 2008 at 00:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in Tottenham over 15 years ago the Anglican and Roman Catholic Bishops led the local Christian community in stopping the Spurs playing at home on Good Friday. White Hart Lane stadium is surrounded by churches including an Anglican one on Park Lane under the south stand that cannot open when there is a match, the road being closed. The Roman Catholic parish church and the Baptist Chapel are next to each other opposite the main entrance to the ground. The match would have prevented the observance of Good Friday. Nowadays they play on Sunday afternoons sometimes and we all cope: but what happens when there is a move to Sunday morning football or the Good Friday issue comes again? Luckily there is now a mosque meeting on the Tottenham High Road so maybe they will be listened to even if we are not.

19 May 2008 at 07:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"we'd better hide the lego"

As you probably know, until quite recently (within living memory in IRVINE, of all places, and much more recently in the Outer Isles), it used to be the practice to chain up the childrens' swings on Sundays.

So yes, these fanatics would indeed hide the lego.

I think negotiation with them might be difficult and probably pointless.

19 May 2008 at 20:46  
Anonymous John Hayward, Jubilee Centre said...

Your Grace, I fear you somewhat misrepresent my original post. I concluded my observations with a question, not an assertion. As it happens I would whole-heartedly agree that "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." I also agree that the children were not being told to earn their living by playing football on a Sunday and would personally hold that a competition could be an excellent opportunity for the family and local community to spend time together, not to mention a great form of relaxation for those participating in the match.

And yet ... in a country where 81% of people believe that protecting Sunday as a family day is a good idea, I put it again, is the Western Isles MSP not correct to defend the right of his constituents who choose to enjoy their Sundays at church, with immediate family and relatives, for the needy, and for personal rest and relaxation?

19 May 2008 at 21:15  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Dr Hayward,

His Grace has not intentionally misrepresented your post, and the link ensures that his readers and communicants may read it for themselves.

His concern is with your line of reasoning in a context of non-discrimination towards those of other faiths. 81 per cent have to be 'sensitive' to the other 19, who have a 'right' to be treated equally under the law.

Do the parents of Muslim children have the right to demand such consideration on Fridays, or Jews on Saturdays, and if not why not?

That is the overriding concern in this new 'enlightened' context.

19 May 2008 at 22:02  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Christians should draw a line somewhere. Sunday activities for children - coaching in various games, sponsored this & that - have taken on the character of a duty for many conscientious parents, such that they would be failing their children, and looked down upon by other parents, if they stayed away in order to take their children to church. Christian worship in such a case has become the hobby, sports etc the religion.

20 May 2008 at 14:37  
Blogger Rodney said...

This article speaks well to many of our concerns. I would like to see about reprinting this article in Sunday Magazine in the United States. Is this permissible if we give credit to Cranmer and give your website?

Rodney Petersen

24 June 2008 at 13:21  

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