Football and the Church

Football and the Church

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In 1531 the Puritan preacher, Thomas Eliot, argued that football caused "beastly fury and extreme violence". In 1572 the Bishop of Rochester demanded a new campaign to suppress this "evil game". In his book, Anatomy of Abuses (1583) Philip Stubbs argued that "football playing and other devilish pastimes.. withdraweth us from godliness, either upon the Sabbath or any other day." Stubbs was also concerned about the injuries that were taking place: "sometimes their necks are broken, sometimes their backs, sometimes their legs, sometimes their arms, sometimes one part is thrust out of joint, sometimes the noses gush out with blood... Football encourages envy and hatred... sometimes fighting, murder and a great loss of blood."

The records show that young men refused to accept the banning of football. In 1589, Hugh Case and William Shurlock were fined 2s for playing football in St. Werburgh's cemetery during the vicar's sermon. Ten years later a group of men in a village in Essex were fined for playing football on a Sunday. Other prosecutions took place in Richmond, Bedford, Thirsk and Guisborough.

Attitudes towards football began to change in the 19th century. Thomas Arnold, who was appointed headmaster of Rugby in 1828, emphasized the importance of sport in young men's education. Like most headteachers in public schools, Arnold believed that sport was a good method for "encouraging senior boys to exercise responsible authority on behalf of the staff". He also argued that games like football provided a "formidable vehicle for character building".

Everton were founded during November 1879 when the St. Domingo's Church held a meeting at the Queen's Head Hotel, Village Street. They already had a cricket team but wanted to find another sport for the winter month. The St. Domingo team played in Stanley Park and won their first game, against St Peter's Church. The following year the club were renamed Everton F.C. after the surrounding area.

Arthur Connell was the rector of St Mark's Church in West Gorton in Manchester. There was a great deal of unemployment in the area and in January 1879 Connell set up a soup kitchen and a relief fund for the local poor. In its first week over 1,500 gallons of soup, 1,000 loaves of bread and 10 tons of coal had been distributed by Connell and his helpers. His daughter, Anna Connell, also became involved in helping this community. She believed that the creation of male clubs would help improve the community spirit. This included the creation of the St. Marks Church football team. This team was eventually renamed as Manchester City.

Other football clubs that owed their origins to religious organizations include Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Birmingham City, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur.

Those who wished to encourage sporting activity among working people, the ex-public-school men keen to tackle the problems of industrial Britain, needed a point of entry to a social world which was often distant and generally alien. One of the most useful means of approaching working-class life was via the Church, of all denominations. Of course among many of the clergy belief in athleticism was almost as striking as their belief in God (one prominent headmaster had said, "the Laws of physical well-being are the laws of God"). Few doubted the needs for large-scale recreation as part of the Churches' solution to the nation's ills. Clergymen seized on football as an ideal way of combating urban degeneracy. Robust games could, they believed, bring strength, health and a host of qualities badly needed by deprived working people - especially the young. As a result, working-class churches began to spawn football teams in the years immediately following the concession of free Saturday afternoons in local industries. Liverpool, which before the turn of the century was to establish itself as the footballing centre of England, was later than other cities in turning to the game, but when, in 1878, local teams began to form, they sprang most notably from churches, headed by St Domingo's, St Peter's, Everton United Church and St Mary's, Kirkdale. As late as 1885, twenty-five of the 112 football clubs in Liverpool had religious connections. Similar patterns emerged in other cities. In Birmingham in 1880, eighty-three of the 344 clubs (some twenty-four per cent) were connected to churches. Indeed many of today's famous clubs began life as church teams. Aston Villa originated in 1874 from members of the Villa Cross Wesleyan Chapel who already played cricket but wanted a winter sport. Birmingham City began life as Small Heath Alliance, organized by members of Trinity Church in 1875. Some years before, pupils and teachers of Christ Church, Bolton, formed a football club. In 1887 they took the name Bolton Wanderers. Blackpool FC emerged from an older team based on the local St John's Church. Similarly, Everton started life in 1878 as St Domingo's Church Sunday School (and later produced an offshoot which became Liverpool FC). In 1880 men at St Andrew's Sunday School, West Kensington, organized a football team which later became Fulham FC. Members of the young men's association at St Mary's Church, Southampton, formed a team in 1885, changing the name to that of the present professional club in 1897. In Swindon, the local football team owed its origins to the work of the Revd W. Pitt in 1881. A year later members of the Burnley YMCA turned to football. Boys at St Luke's Church, Blakenhall, formed a football team in 1877, later taking the name Wolverhampton Wanderers. These surviving professional teams constitute only a small minority of the thousands of teams founded in the 1870s and 1880s from church organisations (often with the local vicar or curate as a player).

"I believe that all right-minded people have good reason to thank God for the great progress of this popular national game." Those words were spoken by the legendary Lord Arthur Kinnaird, the holder of the still unbeaten record of nine FA Cup Final appearances and the longest serving chairman in the FAs history.

Kinnaird, one of the leading Christian figures of the late Victorian era, would not have spoken those words lightly. As one of the pioneers at the forefront of football's amazing development from an amateur sport played by a small number of well-to-do enthusiasts to the country's national game enjoyed by countless thousands, he was able to look back with gratitude on all that had been achieved and thank God for it.

Remarkably, of the 39 clubs that have played in the FA Premier League since its inception in the 1992-93 season, 12 also have good reason to take Lord Kinnaird's words to heart - they owe their very existence to churches. But these same clubs know very little about the circumstances that led to their birth or the people involved. This is hardly surprising in view of the fact that church teams, when they started, were the equivalent of today's public parks teams and did not keep extensive records of their activities. How could they possibly have guessed that one day they would become famous and that details about their founders, match results, players' records, minutes of early meetings, etc., would be of enormous interest to thousands of their future supporters? Furthermore, much of the limited source material that was once available has since been irretrievably lost through fire or neglect.

Photographs of many faces stare down at Peter Lupson as he works in the study of his home near the Wirral. Some are of his family. Others belong to people long dead who have nevertheless loomed large in his life as he has spent the last 11 years writing a book which offers English football an opportunity to examine its soul.

These grainy black-and-white reproductions of Victorian visages are nothing less than a gallery of the game's founding fathers, to whom Lupson's recently published Thank God for Football (Azure, £9.99) pays painstaking tribute.

In researching his work, this 61-year-old languages teacher has established that 12 of the 38 clubs which have played in the Premier League can trace their origin directly back to churches or chapels. He has also traced the lives of those responsible for starting the teams, in the case of six of them, all the way to their graves, which he has located in various stages of disrepair.

Last month, Tottenham Hotspur, having been alerted to the fact that their originator, John Ripsher, lay in a pauper's grave in Dover, became the first of those six clubs to honour their beginnings, setting up a smart new headstone which acknowledges the role played by this former bible class teacher from All Hallows Church.

Other clubs mobilising to spruce up their founders' resting places include Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City and Swindon Town, while Everton have just been alerted to the current whereabouts of Benjamin Swift Chambers, responsible for their creation as St Domingo FC.

Honouring graves is one thing; honouring ideals another. It is Lupson's fond hope, nevertheless, that these acts of piety may yet prompt football's influential figures to reconsider some of the principles which inspired the graves' inhabitants.

The teams in question were instituted in the spirit of "muscular Christianity", a concept that was developed in the latter half of the nineteenth century which emphasised the importance of serving others and striving in a physical sense as part of the Christian's duty.

Fostered in public schools, and popularised in Thomas Hughes' 1857 book Tom Brown's Schooldays, this ideal was instilled in a generation of young clergymen who emerged from universities and took up positions in urban communities where working men were in danger of being lost in a mire of poverty, drunkenness and gang violence. In Tottenham, in Fulham, in Southampton, in Swindon, in Everton, in Bolton, in Manchester it was time to "play up and play the game".

"There were four key ingredients of character which it was believed the games field could develop," Lupson says. "Courage – which they called 'pluck', not ducking the hard challenge – fair play, unselfishness – you played for the team – and self-control. So football was seen very early on as a moral agent."

Thus, when a new rector arrived at St Mark's, in West Gorton, Manchester, in 1879, he encouraged his 27-year-old daughter, Anna Connell, to take on her own hard challenge.

"At that time, West Gorton was an area of tremendous deprivation," Lupson says. "There was overcrowding, squalor, poor sanitation and poverty, and the ways in which the men of the community sought refuge from this was drink and gang warfare, which was called 'scuttling' in that era.

"We are talking about 500 people at a time involved in fighting. The local press reported 250-a-side – we are talking about warfare. Anna was grieved by seeing these men live such wasted lives and wanted to do something for them that could reverse the direction they were going in."

Miss Connell knocked on every door in the parish – by Lupson's estimation, that meant 1000 doors – to spread word of the weekly working men's club she was setting up in the parish hall. The first week, three people turned up. But soon, with the help of two churchwardens who worked at the local ironworks, that number became 100.

Playing sport was a natural adjunct to other activities such as singing, discussion and bible recitations. That meant, in the first instance, cricket. But soon the men wanted to keep fit in the winter for their cricket, and decided to do so through football.

"They called themselves St Mark's West Gorton FC," Lupson says. " Anna's father, Arthur, was the first president, and that club exists today because of Anna Connell knocking on all those doors and not giving up, and it's called Manchester City."

The Scopes 'Monkey' Trial Pitted Science Against Religion: Watch Rare Footage

History Flashback takes a look at historical 𠇏ound footage” of all kinds—newsreels, instructional films, even cartoons—to give us a glimpse into how much things have changed, and how much has remained the same.

In the scorching summer heat of small-town Dayton, TN, in July of 1925, crowds of reporters and local residents gathered at the courthouse to watch the showdown between Charles Darwin and the Christian Church.

The trial was of John Thomas Scopes, a 24-year-old high school teacher and football coach with �rrot-colored hair” and a “pleasant demeanor,” who, with backing from the American Civil Liberties Union, had violated the newly passed Butler Act by teaching evolution in his classroom. It was the first U.S. trial ever to be broadcast live on the radio, and the whole world listened to hear the fate of evolution in America.

In the end, Scopes lost (although the verdict was eventually overturned on a technicality). But the Monkey Trial, as it came to be known, was an important milestone in Darwin’s road to becoming a permanent fixture in the American classroom.

Websites and Research Guides:



Elijah Abel

1830: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is organized in Fayette, New York.

1832: Elijah Abel is baptized and joins the LDS Church. Abel becomes the first black man to be given the priesthood.

1833: LDS leader W.W. Phelps publishes a controversial editorial in the Independence, Missouri Evening and Morning Star encouraging Free People of Color to migrate to Missouri. Many residents in Missouri react negatively to the editorial and one anti-Mormon manifesto calls for the “removal” of Mormons from the state.

1836: Elijah Abel is ordained an Elder in the LDS Church reportedly by Joseph Smith. Later that year he is ordained as a member of the Seventy, the leadership body of the LDS Church and becomes a “duly licensed minister of the Gospel” to do missionary work in Ohio.

1842: Joseph Smith writes in his personal journal that enslaved people owned by Mormons should be brought “into a free country and set….free. Educate them and give them equal rights.”

1843: Joseph Smith makes a public statement asserting that blacks have souls and are a product of their environment. Given an equal environment they would be on the same level as whites.

1844: Joseph T. Ball serves as Boston Branch President of the LDS Church. Ball, who held the priesthood, served as president of the branch from 1844 to 1845. He is the first African American to serve in a leadership capacity in the Church.

Green Flake, the slave of James Madison Flake, is baptized at the age of 15 and joins the LDS Church.

Samuel Chambers, a slave, is baptized at the age of 13.

Walker Lewis, a free black man, is ordained an Elder in the LDS Church.

Joseph Smith runs for President of the United States and campaigns on an anti-slavery platform. He declares that despite slavery, all men are created equal and proposes the sale of public lands to pay for the emancipation of every slave in the nation He also calls for complete emancipation by 1850.

1846: William McCary, a free black man, is baptized and ordained in the LDS Church. He becomes a controversial figure because of his challenge of Church doctrine and is eventually excommunicated by Church leaders.

1847: Three African Americans, Green Flake, Oscar Crosby, and Hark Lay, accompany Brigham Young who leads the first Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley. The slaves of Southern Mormons, these men are sent ahead to help prepare for Mormon settlers to follow. Today, their names are inscribed on the Brigham Young monument in downtown Salt Lake City.

1851: Church leader Orson Hyde makes a statement about slavery that appears in the official LDS newspaper The Millennial Star: “The laws of the land recognize slavery, we do not wish to oppose the laws of the country….Our counsel to all our ministers in the North and South is to avoid contention upon the subject, and to oppose no institution which the laws of the country authorize but to labor to bring men into the Church and Kingdom of God and teach them to do right, and honor their God in His creatures.”

Elijah and his wife, Mary Ann Abel, arrive in Utah Territoriy. Abel a carpenter by trade who has helped construct LDS Temples in Kirkland, Ohio and Nauvoo, Illinois, works on the Salt Lake Temple. The couple also manage the Farnham Hotel in Salt Lake City.

1852: LDS President Brigham Young in two speeches before the Utah Territorial Legislature on January 23 and February 5, publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though blacks could continue to join the Church through baptism and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Slavery is made legal in Utah by an act of the Territorial Legislature. A slave code is also adopted. The code includes provisions not usually found in similar codes in the U.S. South. The Utah code bans intercourse between owner and slave, punishes owners who neglect to feed, clothe, or shelter their slaves or who abuses the slave. The code prohibits owners from taking their slaves from Utah Territory without the permission of the slave and requres some schooling of the enslaved child between the age of six and twenty. Any owner who violates these provisions is compelled to free his slave.

1853: Brigham Young denies the request of Elijah Abel to receive endowments. This is the first time a person of color is denied access to rituals and practices central to the LDS faith.

1854: Brigham Young arranges for the emancipation of Green Flake who eventually settles in Idaho Falls, Idaho Territory.

1856: Bridget “Biddy” Mason, and her extended family of 12, all slaves of Mormon Robert Smith, are freed by Los Angeles, California Judge Benjamin I. Hayes after they are illegally brought to California. Mason eventually becomes a wealthy property holder and philanthropist and the founder of First African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Los Angeles. Smith was later excommunicated from the Church.

1860: The U.S. Census of 1860 shows Utah Territory has 59 black inhabitants including 29 enslaved people.

1862: On June 19 the U.S. Congress passed the Territorial Abolition Act which abolished slavery in all U.S. territories including Utah Territory.

1863: President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation goes into force. The proclamation frees all enslaved people who remain in the areas of the United States still in rebellion against the Federal Government on January 1, 1863.

1865: The Thirteenth Amendment is passed by Congress and ratified by the required number of states. The amendment outlaws slavery throughout the United States and all territories under its jurisdiction.

1867: The Deseret Constitution (the Consititution of Utah Territory) extends suffrage to [male] persons of color following a referendum held in February and passed by an almost unanimous vote of the Territory’s white male voters.

1868: The Fourteenth Amendment which grants citizenship rights to all persons born within the United States or subject to its jurisdiction becomes law.

1870: The Fifteenth Amendment granting voting rights to male African Americans throughout the United States becomes law.

1880: Elijah Abel is again denied Temple Endowment, this time by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

1883: Elijah Abel still holds the priesthood despite the earlier ban on persons of African ancestry. He is also still on record as a Seventy in the LDS Church.

In his seventies, Abel is sent to do mission work in eastern United States. He returns home to Salt Lake City in early December and dies on December 25, 1884.

1896: Utah Territory is admitted to the Union on Jan. 4, making it the 45th state.

1900: LDS President Lorenzo Snow states that he is not sure whether the existing explanations for the priesthood ban have been personal opinions or actual revelations.

Elijah Abel’s son, Enoch Abel, is ordained an Elder in the LDS Church.

1902: Jane Elizabeth Manning James receives a Special Temple Sealing. James, who lived with LDS founder Joseph Smith, indicated that she was promised by him and his wife, Emma, that she would be adopted into the Smith family. The Sealing officially represents the formalizing of that adoption.

1903: Green Flake, a pioneer LDS settler who accompanied Brigham Young on his initial migration to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, dies in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He is 75 at the time of his death.

1934: Elijah Abel’s grandson, also called Elijah Abel, is ordained a priest in the Aaronic priesthood. The following year he is ordained an Elder in the LDS Church.

1940: A Committee is formed among the leaders of the LDS Church to “make some ruling or re-affirm whatever ruling that has been made on this questions in the past as to whether or not one drop of negro blood deprives a man of the right to receive the priesthood.”

1947: LDS leaders explore the expansion of the Church into Brazil and other areas of Latin America. There are concerns however about the large percentage of the Brazilian population that has some African ancestry.

1948: LDS Church leadership reaffirms the ban on the priesthood for those of African ancestry and indicates that “…It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.”

1955: Melanesian “Blacks” are given the Priesthood. LDS Church leader David O. McKay says that Melanesian blacks are defined as from a different lineage and are not under the priesthood ban. The first men from the Fiji Islands receive the priesthood in 1958 along with the Negritos of the Philippines.

1958: As the U.S. Civil Rights Movement begins to gain momentum, LDS Church Leader Joseph Fielding Smith clarifies the Church’s position on equality for blacks with the following statement: “No church or other organization is more insistent that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that Negroes should receive all the right and privileges that can possibly be given to any other [race] in the true sense of equality as declared in the Declaration of Independence…They should be equal in the matter of education. They should not be barred from obtaining knowledge and becoming proficient in any field of science, art, or mechanical occupation. They should be free to choose any kind of emplyment, to go into business in any field they may choose and the make their lives as happy as it is possible without interference from white men, labor unions, or from any other sources. In their defense of these privileges the members of the Church will stand… If a Negro is baptized and remains true and loyal, he will enter the celestrial kingdom…but we cannot promise him that he will receive the priesthood.”

1962: LDS President David O. McKay calls four missionaries to serve in Nigeria. The President permits baptism of Nigerians into the faith but maintains the ban on persons of African ancestry in the priesthood.

Sometime in 1962 Dr. A.F. Mensah, a black religious leader in Ghana, joins the LDS Church. He converts several others and sets up the first LDS Church congregation in sub-Saharan Africa. This is done despite the fact that males of African ancestry cannot hold the priesthood in the Church.

1963: On June 7, an article in The New York Times quotes LDS Apostle Hugh B. Brown as saying, “We are in the midst of a survey looking toward the possibility of admiting Negroes [to the Priesthood].

Later that year Brown makes a statement on Civil Rights at the General Conference of the LDS Church. He says: “We have consistently and persistently upheld the Constitution of the United States and as far as we are concerned this means upholding the constitutional rights of every citizen of the United States… We call upon all men everywhere, both within and outside the Church, to commit themselves to the establishment of full civil equality for all of God’s children. Anything less that this defeats our high ideal of the brotherhood of man.”

1964: Dr. A. F. Mensah gives a copy of the Book of Mormon
to fellow Ghanaian J.W.B. Johnson who joins the Church and begins to spread the gospel among fellow Ghanaians.

1965: The Nigerian government denies visas to Mormon missionaries, effectively forbiding Mormon Missions in the country because of the priesthood ban but it allows its citizens to become members of the LDS Church.

1969: In October fourteen black University of Wyoming football players decide to protest LDS policies regarding race by announcing that they will wear black armbands during the upcoming game with Brigham Young University (BYU). Wyoming head football coach Lloyd Eaton learns of the protest and immediately suspends all fourteen players from the team. The proposed protest and the subsequent suspension focus for the first time national attention on the LDS policy regarding the priesthood and other examples of discriminatory practice directed against black LDS members.

One month later Stanford University announces that it will no longer compete with BYU varsity sports teams as a protest against “…alleged racial discrimination by the Mormon Church.”

1970: A January basketball game between BYU and the University of Arizona is disrupted when nine black students walk onto the court just before halftime to protest LDS Church racial policies. One week later 3,000 students at the University attend a rally demanding the institution sever relations with BYU.

In February and March anti-BYU protests spread to the University of Washington, the University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, California Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obisopo) and the University of New Mexico. By the early Spring student organizations at six universities—The University of Arizona, Arizona State University, The University of New Mexico, Colorado State University, the University of Wyoming and the University of Hawaii—all call for their institutions to sever ties with BYU athletics. The Faculty Senate at the University of Washington also calls on its institution to end its athletic ties with Brigham Young University.

In the wake of these protests, LDS President David O. McKay tells the Salt Lake Tribune that “There is no doctrine in this church and there never was a doctrine in this church to the effect that the Negroes are under any kind of divine curse.”

1971: The Genesis Group is founded in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The organization formed under the direction of LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith and led by Ruffin Bridgeforth, Jr., is to provide fellowship for black LDS members in the Salt Lake City area and to reactivate black members who are no longer involved in the Church.

1972: Bennie Smith enrolls in Brigham Young University and becomes the institution’s first black football player. Smith complains of racial prejudice on the BYU campus and is suspended from the team before completing his first semester.

1973: Spencer W. Kimball becomes the new LDS Church President and immediately addresses the priesthood ban. He says: “I am not sure that there will be a change, although there could be. We are under the dicates of our Heavenly Father, and this is not my policy or the Church’s policy. It is the policy of the Lord who has established it, and I know of no change, although we are subject to revelations of the Lord in case he should ever wish to make a change.”

1974: Gary Batiste enrolls in Brigham Young University and becomes the first black basketball player at that institution.

LDS Church leaders remove the ban on African American males serving as Boy Scout Troop leaders in Church-sponsored troops.

1976: Douglas Wallace, a white LDS member in Portland, Oregon, holds a press conference and baptizes Larry Lester, a black man in a motel swimming pool. Wallace then ordains Lester a member of the Aaronic Priesthood. Within weeks Church leaders excommunicate Wallace and ignore the baptism of Lester.

Extra BYU Daily Universe Announces the End of the Priesthood Ban, June 9, 1978

1978: On June 8, the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announces that all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard to race or color.
Two weeks later Joseph Freeman is the first black male to be officially ordained an Elder and granted the priesthood in the 20th Century.

1979: One year after the Church lifts its ban on males of African ancestry holding the priesthood, there are approximately 1,700 LDS members in Nigeria.

Stanford University ends a decade-long ban on athletic competition with Brigham Young University.

1980: The LDS Church formally establishes its first West African Mission.

1983: Former Black Panther Party leader Eldridge Cleaver is baptized and joins the LDS Church in Oakland, California.

1988: The first black African stake is organized in 1988 in Aba, Nigeria, with David W. Eka as its president.

1990: Helvecio Martins, a Brazilian who joined the LDS Church sometime before 1978, becomes the first black General Authority in the Church. He is also a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, only the second person of African ancestry after Elijah Abel to be elevated to that body.

1995: National Basketball Association player Thurl Bailey becomes the first black professional athelete to join the LDS Church.

1997: Popular entertainer Gladys Knight is baptized and joins the LDS Church.

2002: Robert Foster becomes the first black student body president of Brigham Young University.

Gladys Knight

2005: Jackson T. Mkhabela is called as stake president in Soweto, South Africa. All other stake presidents in South Africa had been white although stakes had black counselors. While there have been other black stake presidents in Africa and Latin America, Elder Mkhabela is the first black stake president in South Africa.

2009: Elder Joseph W. Sitati of Nairobi, Kenya is Called as a General Authority of the Church. He is the third person of African ancestry, and the first on the African continent, who is elevated to the Quorum of the Seventy after Elder Helvecio Martins of Brazil (1990-1995) and Elijah Abel (1839-1884).

2013: The Church releases a lengthy doctrinal and historical statement called “Race and the Priesthood” which disavows theories in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse.

2014: Mia Love becomes the first black member of the LDS Church to be elected to the United States Congress. She is also the first black member of Congress elected from Utah.

For a more detailed Timeline of African Americans and the LDS Church see

Global Distribution of LDS Church Members in 2009

Joel Osteen kept his megachurch shut to Hurricane Harvey victims until people noticed

In late August 2017, the Houston area was thoroughly wrecked by Hurricane Harvey. As World Vision tells us, the disaster directly and indirectly killed an estimated 103 people, flooded a third of the USA's fourth-largest city, and caused roughly $125 billion in damage. It was a difficult time for the area, and like any good religious leader, Joel Osteen had some words of wisdom and solace to offer. "Jesus promises us peace that passes understanding," the preacher wrote on Twitter. "That's peace when it doesn't make sense."

There was just one minor problem. As the New York Post points out, Osteen had plenty more to give than just social media platitudes. Namely, the Lakewood Church, a 16,800-seat arena-turned-megachurch that was very near to downtown Houston, and could easily be used to house a significant portion of the many Houstonians in need of a temporary shelter. Several people immediately pointed out that Osteen's giant facility hadn't opened its doors to the many people in need, despite the fact that it appeared to be undamaged by the flood. As entertainment publicist Danny Deraney put it on Twitter: "OPEN YOUR CHURCH! You have taken so much money away from your people to live like a king. It's the least you could do." Others echoed the sentiment, and as Bustle notes, Osteen's closed church was soon the subject of an incredibly unflattering online meme.

Like Constantine at the opening of the Council of Nicea, James delivered the opening address. He immediately set the tone and gave clear cues of what to expect. The doctrine and polity of the state church were not up for evaluation and reconsideration.

James immediately proceeded to hint that he found a great deal of security in the structure and hierarchy of the English church, in contrast to the Presbyterian model he witnessed in Scotland. He made no effort to hide his previous frustration in Scotland.

The Puritans were not allowed to attend the first day of the conference. On the second day, the four Puritans were allowed to join the meeting. John Reynolds took the lead on their behalf and raised the question of church government. However, any chance of his being heard was lost by one inopportune and, no doubt, unintended reference.

He asked if a more collegial approach to church administration might be in order. In other words, "Let's broaden the decision-making base." Reynolds posed his question this way: "Why shouldn't the bishops govern jointly with a presbytery of their brethren, the pastors, and ministers of the Church."

The word presbyterie was like waving a red flag before a bull. The king exploded in reply: "If you aim at a Scots Presbyterie, it agreeth as well with monarchy as God and the devil! Then Jack, and Tom, and Will, and Dick shall meet and censure me and my council." He then uttered what can be considered his defining motto and summary: "No bishop, no King!"

At this point, he warned Reynolds: "If this be all your party hath to say, I will make them conform themselves, or else I will harrie them out of the land, or else do worse!"

While Reynolds' unfortunate use of the term presbyterie damaged the Puritan case, he does get credit for proposing the most significant achievement of the conference. Reynolds "moved his majesty that there might be a new translation of the Bible because those which were allowed in the reign of King Henry VIII and King Edward VI were corrupt and not answerable to the truth of the original." James warmed to a new translation because he despised the then popular Geneva Bible. He was bothered more by its sometimes borderline revolutionary marginal notes than by the actual quality of the translation.

How Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football

At the turn of the 20th century, America’s football gridirons were killing fields. The college game drew tens of thousands of spectators and rivaled professional baseball in fan appeal, but football in the early 1900s was lethally brutal𠅊 grinding, bruising sport in which the forward pass was illegal and brute strength was required to move the ball. Players locked arms in mass formations and used their helmetless heads as battering rams. Gang tackles routinely buried ball carriers underneath a ton and a half of tangled humanity.

With little protective equipment, players sustained gruesome injuries—wrenched spinal cords, crushed skulls and broken ribs that pierced their hearts. The Chicago Tribune reported that in 1904 alone, there were 18 football deaths and 159 serious injuries, mostly among prep school players. Obituaries of young pigskin players ran on a nearly weekly basis during the football season. The carnage appalled America. Newspaper editorials called on colleges and high schools to banish football outright. “The once athletic sport has degenerated into a contest that for brutality is little better than the gladiatorial combats in the arena in ancient Rome,” opined the Beaumont Express. The sport reached such a crisis that one of its biggest boosters—President Theodore Roosevelt—got involved.

Although his nearsightedness kept him off the Harvard varsity squad, Roosevelt was a vocal exponent of football’s contribution to the “strenuous life,” both on and off the field. As New York City police commissioner, he helped revive the annual Harvard-Yale football series after it had been canceled for two years following the violent 1894 clash that was deemed “the bloodbath at Hampden Park.” His belief that the football field was a proving ground for the battlefield was validated by the performance of his fellow Rough Riders who were former football standouts. “In life, as in a football game,” he wrote, “the principle to follow is: Hit the line hard don’t foul and don’t shirk, but hit the line hard!” In 1903, the president told an audience, “I believe in rough games and in rough, manly sports. I do not feel any particular sympathy for the person who gets battered about a good deal so long as it is not fatal.”

Football, however, was fatal, and even Roosevelt acknowledged it required reform if it was to be saved. With his son Theodore Jr. now playing for the Harvard freshman team, he had a paternal interest in reforming the game as well. Fresh from negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War, Roosevelt sought to end violence on the football field as well as the battlefield. Using his 𠇋ig stick,” the First Fan summoned the head coaches and representatives of the premier collegiate powers—Harvard, Yale and Princeton—to the White House on October 9, 1905. Roosevelt urged them to curb excessive violence and set an example of fair play for the rest of the country. The schools released a statement condemning brutality and pledging to keep the game clean.

Roosevelt soon discovered that brokering peace in the Far East may have been an easier proposition than getting an American sport to clean up its act. Fatalities and injuries mounted during the 1905 season. In the freshman tilt against Yale, the president’s son was bruised and his nose broken�liberately, according to some accounts. The following week, the Harvard varsity nearly walked off the field while playing against Yale after their captain was leveled by an illegal hit on a fair catch that left his nose broken and bloodied. The same afternoon, Union College halfback Harold Moore died of a cerebral hemorrhage after being kicked in the head while attempting to tackle a New York University runner. It was a grim end to a savage season. In what the Chicago Tribune referred to as a �th harvest,” the 1905 football season resulted in 19 player deaths and 137 serious injuries. A Cincinnati Commercial Tribune cartoon depicted the Grim Reaper on a goalpost surveying a twisted mass of fallen players.

Following the season, Stanford and California switched to rugby while Columbia, Northwestern and Duke dropped football. Harvard president Charles Eliot, who considered football “more brutalizing than prizefighting, cockfighting or bullfighting,” warned that Harvard could be next, a move that would be a crushing blow to the college game and the Harvard alum in the Oval Office. Roosevelt wrote in a letter to a friend that he would not let Eliot 𠇎masculate football,” and that he hoped to “minimize the danger” without football having to be played “on too ladylike a basis.” Roosevelt again used his bully pulpit. He urged the Harvard coach and other leading football authorities to push for radical rule changes, and he invited other school leaders to the White House in the offseason.

An intercollegiate conference, which would become the forerunner of the NCAA, approved radical rule changes for the 1906 season. They legalized the forward pass, abolished the dangerous mass formations, created a neutral zone between offense and defense and doubled the first-down distance to 10 yards, to be gained in three downs. The rule changes didn’t eliminate football’s dangers, but fatalities declined—to 11 per year in both 1906 and 1907—while injuries fell sharply. A spike in fatalities in 1909 led to another round of reforms that further eased restrictions on the forward pass and formed the foundation of the modern sport.

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Football, any of a number of related games, all of which are characterized by two persons or teams attempting to kick, carry, throw, or otherwise propel a ball toward an opponent’s goal. In some of these games, only kicking is allowed in others, kicking has become less important than other means of propulsion.

The impulse to kick a round object has been present as long as humans have been humans. The first game of football was played when two or more people, acting on this impulse, competed in an attempt to kick a round object in one direction rather than in another. Evidence of organized football games in Greece and China goes back more than 2,000 years, but historians have no idea how these games were played. Claims that football of some sort was played throughout the Roman Empire are plausible, but the game of harpastum, often cited in support of these claims, seems to have involved throwing a ball rather than kicking it. Although kicking games were played by the indigenous peoples of North America, they were much less popular than the stickball games that are the origin of the modern game of lacrosse.

The folk football games of the 14th and 15th centuries, which were usually played at Shrovetide or Easter, may have had their origins in pagan fertility rites celebrating the return of spring. They were tumultuous affairs. When village competed against village, kicking, throwing, and carrying a wooden or leather ball (or inflated animal bladder) across fields and over streams, through narrow gateways and narrower streets, everyone was involved—men and women, adults and children, rich and poor, laity and clergy. The chaotic contest ended when some particularly robust or skillful villager managed to send the ball through the portal of the opposing village’s parish church. When folk football was confined within a single village, the sides were typically formed of the married versus the unmarried, a division which suggests the game’s origins in fertility ritual.

The game was violent. The French version, known as soule, was described by Michel Bouet in Signification du sport (1968) as “a veritable combat for possession of the ball,” in which the participants struggled “like dogs fighting over a bone.” The British version, which has been researched more thoroughly than any other, was, according to Barbarians, Gentlemen and Players (1979) by Eric Dunning and Kenneth Sheard, “a pleasurable form…of excitement akin to that aroused in battle.”

Not surprisingly, most of the information about medieval folk football is derived from legal documents. Edward II banned the game in 1314, and his royal successors repeated the prohibition in 1349, 1389, 1401, and 1423, all in a vain attempt to deprive their disobedient subjects of their disorderly pleasure. Despite the bans, records of criminal trials continue to refer to lives lost and property destroyed in the course of an annual football game. The most detailed account, however, is Richard Carew’s description of “hurling to goales,” from his Survey of Cornwall (1602).

That British folk football did not become appreciably more civilized with the arrival of the Renaissance is suggested by Sir Thomas Elyot’s condemnation in The Governour (1537). He lamented the games “beastely fury, and extreme violence.” Even James I, who defended the legitimacy of traditional English pastimes when they were condemned by the Puritans, sought to discourage his subjects from indulging in folk football. He wrote in Basilikon Doron or, His Majesties Instructions to His Dearest Sonne, Henry the Prince (1603) that the “rough and violent” game was “meeter for mameing than making able the [players] thereof.”

In Renaissance Italy the rough-and-tumble sport of folk football became calcio, a game popular among fashionable young aristocrats, who transformed it into a highly formalized and considerably less violent pastime played on bounded rectangular spaces laid out in urban squares such as Florence’s Piazza di Santa Croce. In his Discorso sopra il gioco del calcio fiorentino (1580 “Discourse on the Florentine Game of Calcio”), Giovanni Bardi wrote that the players should be “gentlemen, from eighteen years of age to forty-five, beautiful and vigorous, of gallant bearing and of good report.” They were expected to wear “goodly raiment.” In a contemporary print, uniformed pikemen guard the field and preserve decorum. (In 1909, in a moment of nationalistic fervour, the Federazione Italiana del Football changed its name to the Federazione Italiana Gioco del Calcio.)

As an aspect of more or less unbroken local tradition, in towns such as Boulogne-la-Grasse and Ashbourne (Derbyshire), versions of folk football survived in France and Britain until the early 20th century. Although all modern football sports evolved from medieval folk football, they derive more directly from games played in schoolyards rather than village greens or open fields. In 1747, in his “ Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College,” Thomas Gray referred to the “flying ball” and the “fearful joy” that it provided the “idle progeny” of England’s elite. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries at Eton, Harrow, Shrewsbury, Winchester, and other public schools, football was played in forms nearly as violent as the medieval version of the game. When the privileged graduates of these schools went on to Oxford and Cambridge, they were reluctant to abandon their “fearful joy.” Since none of them were ready to play by the rules of someone else’s school, the only rational solution was to create new games that incorporated the rules of several schools.

The institutional basis for the most widely played of these new games was England’s Football Association (1863). References to “Association football” were soon abbreviated to “soccer.” Graduates of Rugby School, accustomed to rules that permitted carrying and throwing as well as kicking the ball, played their game, rugby, under the aegis of the Rugby Football Union (1871). When Thomas Wentworth Wills (1835–80) combined Rugby’s rules with those from Harrow and Winchester, Australian rules football was born. In the United States, rugby was quickly transformed into gridiron football. (The name came from the white stripes that crossed the field at 10-yard [9.1-metre] intervals.) Although Gaelic football is similar to these other “codes,” that game was institutionalized under the auspices of the Gaelic Athletic Association (1884) as a distinctively Irish alternative to the imported English games of soccer and rugby.

The Wyoming Black Fourteen (1969)

The Wyoming Black Fourteen were African American members of the 1969 University of Wyoming (UW) football team who protested playing a game with Brigham Young University (BYU) because of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’s ban on black men holding the priesthood in the church, and other racial restrictions. The priesthood ban applied exclusively to men of African descent.

The fourteen players, Jerry Berry, Tony Gibson, John Griffin, Lionel Grimes, Mel Hamilton, Ron Hill, Willie Hysaw, Jim Isaac, Earl Lee, Don Meadows, Tony McGee, Ivie Moore, Joe Williams, and Ted Williams, were part of a successful Wyoming football team. Under Head Coach Lloyd Eaton, the Wyoming Cowboys had won three consecutive Western Athletic Conference (WAC) championships, and in 1969 it was considered the best football team to ever play for the university.

The protest began on October 15, 1969 when Willie Black, a 32-year-old math graduate student and head of Wyoming’s Black Student Alliance, upon learning of the LDS ban on black male priests, brought a letter titled “We Must Protest,” to university administrators. The letter described the race issues of the Mormon church, including the priesthood restriction and other prohibitions, such as barring all women and men of African ancestry from participation in temple rituals. Black’s letter called for all Wyoming football players and students to protest LDS church policies during the scheduled game with BYU, three days later on October 18.

Two days before the game, the fourteen black players walked to the athletic complex to discuss options for how they might protest. They eventually decided to wear black armbands but nonetheless compete in the game. On October 17, the day before the game, Coach Eaton ordered the players to the bleachers where he reprimanded them and then released them from the team, revoking their athletic scholarships. The university announced that the Board of Trustees supported Coach Eaton’s decision and said “the players will not play in today’s game or any [other] during the balance of the season.” Having dismissed all the black players, the Cowboys became an all-white team. They went on to beat BYU, 40-7 they won two more games but lost four of the remaining games in the season.

The dismissal of the fourteen players brought swift, unwanted local and national attention to the University. First, the UW Student Senate passed a resolution which said in part, “The actions of coach Eaton and the Board of Trustees were not only uncompromising, but unjust and totally wrong.” By the end of October, the UW College of Arts and Sciences, the largest college on campus, voted to support the student athletes. The major networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC all covered the story, as did Sports Illustrated.

In response to the Black Fourteen being expelled from the team, a number of athletes of all races wore black armbands in support including the entire San Jose (California) State Team that lost to the Cowboys in their last season game. The protest of the Fourteen eventually sparked nationwide focus on LDS church practices and other protests by student athletes. Students at the campuses of almost every BYU opponent protested at the games, regardless of the sport, and called on their institutions to ban contests with BYU athletic teams. Stanford University president Kenneth Pitzer announced that his institution would no longer participate in athletic contests against Brigham Young University, and the University of Washington Faculty Senate voted to sever all ties with BYU athletics.

Despite their dismissal, several of the fourteen players received college degrees from Wyoming and other institutions. Jerry Berry, one of the Fourteen, became a sports anchor for TV stations in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Chicago, Illinois, and Detroit, Michigan. In 2002, a statue to the Fourteen was erected in the Student Union on the University of Wyoming campus. In 2009, the 40th anniversary of the Black Fourteen, the LDS Institute at the University of Wyoming made black arm bands in tribute to the events of 1969 and handed them out to all in attendance.

Top 10 Shameful Moments in Catholic History

This list is not a denunciation of Roman Catholicism, which dates back to Christ Himself. The Church today is a very honorable institution. But there are a few moments in its history when it did not live up to its own high moral standards. This list constitutes an honest, unflinching look at some black moments in Roman Catholic history.

In a nutshell, John Wycliffe presaged Martin Luther as a Protestant reformer. Wycliffe lived from c. 1328 to 31 December 1384, about a hundred years before Luther, and Wycliffe saw very much the same problems in the Roman Catholic Church. Catholicism itself was fine with him, but the Church was largely corrupt by his day. A lot of its practices will make entries farther down.

Wycliffe wanted people to worship God and Jesus according to the Bible, not according to the popes and their bishops and priests. He saw that people are corruptible, while the Bible is not, and thus, there was no good sense in taking one&rsquos troubles to a priest, so the priest could make one feel better. Communication directly with God, via prayer, was not impossible, but required an understanding of the Bible, and the next entry outlines a specific grievance Wycliffe had with the Church on this subject.

Wycliffe preached in England, and on the Continent, that priests should do nothing more than oversee church services and help the laypeople interpret the Bible for themselves. He argued based on various Bible passages that secular kings and queens had a divine right, direct from God Almighty, to be kings and queens. Thus, their rule should not be opposed by anyone, anymore than God&rsquos rule should be opposed. The popes, however, routinely told Europe&rsquos monarchs what was what in every field of activity.

It didn&rsquot take long for Wycliffe to irritate a few Catholics, especially Pope Gregory XI. Their animosity toward each other may be without rival in the history of the Catholic Church. Gregory issued no less than five Papal Bulls attempting to shut Wycliffe up, but he would not be silent. Wycliffe went so far as to argue that the pope and the Antichrist were practically equivalent, and denounced the papal throne as the throne of Satan on Earth. He may have been the first to declare this now-popular idea (popular among Protestants).

He was the first to translate the complete Bible into English, which did not endear him to the Catholic hierarchy. The Church did not attempt to catch and kill Wycliffe, ostensibly because it could not find him (he traveled extensively in England, France, and the Netherlands), or because it did not like the risk of invading England to get him. He died three days after suffering a stroke during Mass. 30 years later, the Council of Constance ended &ldquothe three popes&rsquo reign&rdquo and elected Alexander V, who immediately denounced Wycliffe as a heretic, had as many of his books burned as could be found on the Continent and in England, excommunicated and consigned to everlasting flames from the moment of his death. In 1428, Pope Martin V had him dug up and burned at the stake.

Pope Damasus I commissioned Saint Jerome, in 382, to revise the Vetus Latina, which was the compendium of all biblical texts, translated into Latin. Jerome&rsquos product became known as &ldquoversio vulgata,&rdquo or &ldquocommon version.&rdquo It was the translation used most often from then on throughout Western Europe, and from 400 to about 1530, the Latin Vulgate was the one and only Bible most Western Europeans ever encountered. It is, in fact, still the only official Bible of the Catholic Church.

Nothing is wrong with any of this, because Jerome&rsquos translation is perfectly accurate and at its time of publication Latin was spoken throughout most of Europe. It is, more or less, the King James Version in Latin, since the King James translators used it as one of their primary guides. But the problem arose when the commoners throughout Europe told their priests, who told their bishops, who told the popes, that the commoners did not understand the first thing about Latin. It was not spoken except in church ceremonies, and thus, in order to learn it, the commoners had to get their priests to teach them. But the priests would not bother teaching them. Why?

Because knowledge is power, and the Catholic Church had all of both. For about 1,000 years, the Bible remained well known only to the church officials, clergy of all orders, and an elect few well educated scholars. It was never counter to any Papal Bull for any person to translate the Bible into another language. However, anyone who intended to do so was strongly admonished by the Pope himself, with every archbishop, bishop and priest of the continent told not to translate the Bible into any language besides Biblical Hebrew, Ancient Greek or Latin. These three languages were almost dead at the time, meaning no one spoke them commonly.

Indulgences are various degrees of the remission of punishments from sins that have already been forgiven. Indulgences are given, not sold, to anyone who performs a Christian act, especially doing a good deed for someone else, or for saying a prayer. This practice really isn&rsquot that un-biblical, in itself, but the problem is that people immediately see it as a &ldquoGet Out of Jail Free&rdquo card. Sin all you want, then say a Hail Mary, and you&rsquore good to go. It has never worked that way according to the Bible and official Catholic doctrine, and anyone who reads the Pauline Epistles will realize this.

But certain Bishops of the Catholic Church saw indulgences as a very good way to get rich, and it worked magnificently. Threaten an ignorant person with eternal burning, and he&rsquoll give you some money to feel safe again. It got ridiculously out of hand from about 500 until Martin Luther spoke against it in his 95 Theses, in 1517. One of the most notorious abusers of the practice was a man named Johann Tetzel, to whom is attributed this infamous couplet, &ldquoAs soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.&rdquo

These Bishops extorted people for years by horrifying them that they&rsquore departed loved ones were currently frying in Purgatory, and would remain there for a very long time, unless their surviving loved ones paid the Church money. This money would atone for the dead persons&rsquo sins, and they would then enter Heaven. Indulgences are not supposed to be sold. If they were, people with lots of money would be holier than thou art.

Indulgences are still given in the Catholic Church &ndash some which remit part of the punishment owed for sin, and some which remit all. The most recent indulgences were granted in 2007 by Pope Benedict XVI, for people who took part in pilgrimages to Lourdes.

The origin of the superstition of Friday the 13th began on Friday the 13th of October, 1307. King Phillip IV of Spain had borrowed a very large amount of money and personnel from the Templars, in order to wage war against the English, and when Pope Clement V sent him word that there were suspicions about the Christian nature of the Templar brotherhood, Phillip seized the opportunity, sending his men out to round up, arrest and imprison all the Templars in Spain.

Phillip accused them of the most atrocious sins imaginable for that time, including apostasy (which means renouncing Christ), heresy, idolatry and even sodomy. Any one of these &ldquocrimes&rdquo warranted death back then, and the Templars were guilty of precisely none. But Phillip saw an extraordinary chance to eradicate the Templar order from his entire country and seize its incalculable wealth for himself. He bullied Clement V with political embargoes, and Clement acquiesced with an Inquisition convened to investigate these accusations.

The &ldquoinvestigation&rdquo involved torturing the Templars via very perverted, horrifying methods, with the single proviso that no blood be spilled. If they died from the torture, it was deemed &ldquorighteous punishment.&rdquo But none of them did, according to the records we have. Most were put on the rack and stretched until their shoulders dislocated. Some had their testicles crushed in vises, which caused them to bleed profusely, of course, but internally. No blood was spilled. Some were shackled to the dungeon floors and had their feet roasted to the bone in furnaces.

They, understandably, confessed to all sorts of horrible offenses to the Church, including the above mentioned, along with spitting on the cross. As soon as their tortures were over, the recanted their confessions. They may have been in possession of the Shroud of Turin at this time, which constituted idolatry. Clement issued a Papal Bull on 22 November, ordering that Templars be arrested and tortured all over Europe, and they were.

Phillip IV is the most directly to blame, but the Catholic Church was officially and directly responsible in torturing and executing the Templar knights, knowing full well that they were innocent of all charges. Most of the Templars across Europe actually escaped or were acquitted, but those convicted, including the Grandmaster Jacques de Molay, were, to a man, burned at the stake, most after gruesome tortures. He is said to have screamed out of the flames that Phillip and Clement would both meet him before God, &ldquoand that right soon.&rdquo They both died within a year Phillip had a stroke and fell off his horse while hunting Clement died of natural causes, and a rumor persists that his body lay in state during a thunderstorm, when lightning struck the building and burned it to the ground.

The trial of Galileo Galilei is one of the most infamous and embarrassing moments in Catholic history. It still hasn&rsquot gone away. Galileo seems to have been always at odds with the Catholic Church&rsquos hegemony on all education, even though he was good friends with Pope Urban VIII, and dedicated some of his works to him. But he discovered, via his own pet design for the refracting telescope, that Jupiter has moons, and Jupiter&rsquos moons orbit Jupiter, NOT Earth. Know what that means? Orbits are based on gravity, not mankind&rsquos arrogance. This idea is called heliocentrism, which is, Mr. Sun is at the center of the solar system, and Earth, like everything else nearby, orbits Mr. Sun.

Galileo was of the opinion that Nicholas Copernicus was right. The Earth is not the center. The Church didn&rsquot want to hear that. Galileo went to Rome to persuade the Church not to ban Copernicus&rsquos works, and instead of convincing them, the Church officials turned on Galileo and demanded that he desist with his ideas of Heliocentrism. He refused, but did back off for a few years. Urban VIII tried what he dared to help him, but the facts themselves were deemed vehemently heretical, and Galileo was finally brought before an Inquisition (more on those later), and forced under threat of excommunication and torture to &ldquoabjure, curse, and detest&rdquo heliocentrism.

The legend goes that, seated in a chair in a bare room before the table of Inquisitors, Galileo sighed, put his hands behind his back, crossed his fingers and said something to the effect of, &ldquoFine. The Earth does not move around the Sun.&rdquo Then, under his breath, he muttered, &ldquoE pur si muove,&rdquo which is, &ldquoAnd yet it moves.&rdquo How much of this is true cannot be ascertained for certain, but at one point he did let his Italian temper get the better of him (after several years of aggravation), when he stood and bellowed, &ldquoThe Bible tells you how to go to Heaven! It does NOT tell you how the heavens go!&rdquo

The Catholic Church did not lift its ban on heliocentrical thought until 1758. It was not until 1992, 350 years after his death, that a pope, John Paul II, formally apologized for the Church placing Galileo under house arrest for the last 9 years of his life, and denouncing his discoveries which, ironically, were also incorrect as Galileo taught that the Sun was the center of the universe &ndash not just our solar system. John Paul II&rsquos successor, Benedict XVI, is on record as stating that the Catholic Church&rsquos &ldquoverdict against Galileo was rational and just and the revision of this verdict can be justified only on the grounds of what is politically opportune.&rdquo Politically, mind you not factually.

Joan of Arc believed that God had called her to lead the French in kicking the English out of France once and for all. She instigated an uprising in 1429, and led a successful relief force to the besieged city of Orleans, where she aided Gilles de Rais (who, you may recall from another list, was also a savage serial killer), as well as Jean de Dunois and Jean de Brosse, in lifting the siege and routing the English oppressors.

Long story short, Joan roused the political irritation of quite a few Catholic honchos in the area. But when they set about opening up a trial against her, they could find no legitimate evidence. But they opened the trial anyway, and also refused to allow her any legal counsel. This was patently against their own rules. During this farce, the inquisitors (French Bishops who favored the rule of the English), especially Jean LeMaitre, tried to trap Joan with her own words, just like the Pharisees and Sadducees tried to trap Jesus with his own words. And Jesus is probably quite proud of how Joan handled herself, because she calmly and carefully turned all their traps back against them. She left them no ground at all on which to base her execution, so of course, they killed her anyway. They hated her and wanted to kill her. In the end, they had to lie.

Joan of Arc was executed for heresy, not because she claimed to hear the voice of God, not because she defied and killed the English, but because she was said to have worn a man&rsquos clothing while in prison. This was also forbidden, and thus punishable by being burned at the stake. She requested that her last meal be Holy Communion. The Church officials refused, in essence trying everything they could to consign her to Hell. It was even discovered after her death that she had never worn a man&rsquos clothing. Her case was successfully appealed 25 years later, and she was exonerated by the Pope at the behest of St Joan&rsquos mother. Nevertheless, the Church did not canonize her until 16 May, 1920, five hundred years after she was killed.

Along with the next entry, this is one of the two most appalling incidents of criminal cowardice in the history of the Catholic Church. Jan Hus (c. 1369 &ndash 6 July 1415) was a Czech priest and Catholic reformer who could not stand what he saw as various corruptions rife throughout the Roman Catholic Church. It would take too long to explain every detail of his arguments with the Church, but they can all be simplified to his view that the priests, bishops, archbishops and popes were immoral and given to sin, just as any other human. Thus, any rule the Church established was corrupt, because 100% of the rules necessary for Christian living and salvation had already been written by God in the Bible.

He made no secret of his disdain and outright antagonism for the Church in his Prague pulpit. He was strongly influenced by #10, and when #10 died a peaceful death, Hus carried on in his place. He especially wanted the papal schism to end. There were two popes at the time, Gregory XII and Benedict XIII. In 1409, Alexander V was elected to appease both sides, but this backfired. Hus saw it was one more proof that the Church was a human institution, and no longer divine.

In 1411, indulgences received a sudden surge of popularity following the death of Prague&rsquos Archbishop, Zbynek Zajic, when Antipope John XXIII advocated indulgences to insure that all those under his bishopric would be cleaned of the sin of following Hus. Hus sternly preached against indulgences. So, in 1415, the Church convened the Council of Constance to put an end to the papal schism, but also to put an end to Hus. They tricked him into coming to the Council under a letter of indemnity, which meant they promised to do no harm at all to him. All they wanted was to talk.

While he was there, the Church started the rumor that he was trying to escape the city of Constance (Konstanz). He was not trying to escape, because he wrote his will before leaving Prague. He knew they might try to kill him, and they did, arresting, trying and imprisoning him for heresy. He was held in an underground dungeon, fed very little, contracting the flu and possibly pneumonia. He was ordered to recant his teachings, and he refused, stating that he stood firmly and solely on the Bible, that for the Church to demand his recantation of the Bible was the same as demanding God&rsquos genuflection to the Roman Catholic Church. This infuriated the Church officials, who promptly sentenced him to death. They refused him the Last Rites and burned him at the stake.

Tyndale dedicated his life to translating the Bible into vernacular English, so the laypeople of England could read it for themselves. This was not expressly against the rules, as mentioned in entry #9, but Tyndale could not get anyone in the Catholic Church to help him with room and board. Everyone was uncomfortable with the Bible being readily accessible to the commoners, because how could the Church then keep power?

Not to be deterred, Tyndale went into hiding in Belgium and Germany, evading capture while he translated the New Testament, finishing it in 1525. It was printed en masse and smuggled all over Europe, especially into England, where the Catholics in charge burned a number of them in public. Tyndale also wrote fearlessly against the divorce of Henry VIII, calling it anti-Scriptural, and infuriating the king. Tyndale finished translating the Old Testament in 1530.

He was finally caught after some help from a backstabbing friend named Henry Phillips, charged with heresy for no other reason than translating the Bible into English, and strangled, then burned at the stake, on 6 October 1536, in Vilvoorde, outside Brussels. The Catholic Church has never apologized. All subsequent English Bibles, including the King James have borrowed extensively from Tyndale&rsquos Bible.

Because they spanned the entire latter half of the Middle Ages, lasting into the 1800s, the Inquisitions themselves deserve their own entry. Their typically accepted dates are from the 1100s to 1808. The Inquisition still exists today, but torture and execution are no longer allowed. The word itself simply denotes an investigation into possible heresy.

For those seven centuries or so, anyone who roused the anger or suspicion of the Roman Catholic Church was in very real danger of the arrival of Inquisitors, whose job was &ldquoto root out and purge the Christian civilized world of heresy and crimes against God.&rdquo Torture was not only defended as a means to gain a confession the Church encouraged it.

Aside from the specific cases mentioned in other entries, it must not be forgotten that the Catholic Church routinely arrested and tortured Jews, Muslims, Waldensianism (Christian), Hussitism (Christian) and numerous other religions and religious sects. These people were given prior warning to vacate the given area (a pogrom), after which anyone found in the area was arrested and given an ultimatum: convert to Christianity or be executed. Anyone who foolishly refused was tortured until he or she did convert, and the Inquisition allowed no exemptions for anyone, men, women, children, the elderly or the disabled.

These tortures were lurid beyond belief, including branding, the rack, hanging by the toes or thumbs, toe crushing, bone breaking, simple beatings, foot roasting, and blinding by red-hot pokers. After such tortures, the condemned was almost always strangled, then burned at the stake. For seven centuries, the Catholic Church was all powerful, even terrifying monarchs, and the Inquisition held absolute sway by the most brutal methods imaginable.

Interestingly the office of the Inquisition still exists today under the name &ldquoCongregation for the Doctrine of the Faith&rdquo.

This travesty gets its own entry for several reasons. The so-called &ldquowitches&rdquo were rounded up and slaughtered for centuries throughout Europe. Casualty numbers vary drastically because records were not well kept, but the average total is anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 dead, just in the period of c. 1480 to c. 1750.

The hunts had been perpetrated for centuries before, and they were carried out for one or both of two reasons: fear and personal animosity. If a particular person irritated someone, the latter could accuse the former of witchcraft, and the Catholic Church showed up like a bloodhound. Or a nation or local government could suddenly become afraid of the influence of the Antichrist and take care of the matter with the Church&rsquos blessing.

It was established doctrine that witches were not witches by their own volition, but by Satan&rsquos, and so burning them at the stake would purify them by pain so they could enter Heaven. The Church actually believed, and led the populace to believe, that it was doing witches a favor by torturing them and burning them to death. The methods by which to prove a witch were ludicrous, to state the obvious: a mole or birthmark was deemed proof of trafficking with the Devil uttering blasphemy (and back then it was nearly impossible to open your mouth without offending the Church) denouncement by another witch (and since denouncing another passed the blame, the accused could save himself this way) to be afraid during interrogation and the most infamous of all, anyone who could swim was most assuredly a witch, since only the Devil could teach someone to conquer water.

Tortures were not always overseen by the Church itself, and thus, the rule of not shedding blood was ignored in these instances. So the tortures became much, much worse: flogging, skinning alive, castration by red-hot pincers, disemboweling, drawing and quartering, head crushing, tooth extraction, de-nailing. Death, if not by torture, was always via burning at the stake.

Another very serious mistake the Church made in pursuing and slaughtering people because of the slightest hint of heresy is that in so doing, it also ordered that all witches&rsquo &ldquofamiliars&rdquo be hunted down, killed and burned. These familiars were pets that witches were believed to keep, whether frogs, or owls, or rats or especially cats. From the 1100s until the late 1300s, cats were slaughtered wholesale all over Europe. When the fleas bearing bubonic plague rode on the backs of rats from the Black Sea area and Western Asia into Italy and Western Europe, there were no cats to check the rats&rsquo spread. The Black Death of c. 1340 to c. 1355 spread so well, in large part, because the rats multiplied out of control. The Plague finally dwindled away because the people were too busy dying to kill cats, and the cats repopulated Europe and brought the rats back down.

It should be noted that witch hunts were not unique to the Catholic Church, as all of the protestant nations in Europe also partook of this cruel abuse. Alas, no one was immune from guilt.

Football and the Church - History









CHAPTER II: Persecution of Christianity and Christian Martyrdom.

CHAPTER III. Literary Contest of Christianity with Judaism and Heathenism.

CHAPTER IV: Organization and Discipline of the Church.

CHAPTER VII: The Church in the Catacombs.

CHAPTER VIII: The Christian Life in Contrast with Pagan Corruption.

CHAPTER XI: The Heresies of the Ante-Nicene Age.

CHAPTER XII: The Development of Catholic Theology.

CHAPTER XIII: Ecclesiastical Literature of the Ante-Nicene Age, and Biographical Sketches of the Church Fathers.










I. – The Trinitarian Controversies.

II. – The Origenistic Controversies.

III. – The Christological Controversies.

IV. – The Anthropological Controversies.



From Gregory I to Gregory VII

CHAPTER I. General Introduction to Mediaeval Church History


From Gregory I. To Gregory VII.

CHAPTER II. The Conversion of the Northern and Western Barbarians.

I. The Conversion of England, Ireland, and Scotland.

II. The Conversion of France, Germany, and Adjacent Countries.

III. The Conversion of Scandanavis.

IV. The Christianization of the Slavs.

CHAPTER III. Mohammedanism in its Relation to Christianity.

CHAPTER IV. The Papal Hierarchy and the Holy Roman Empire.

CHAPTER V. The Conflict of the Eastern and Western Churches and Their Separation.

CHAPTER XIV. Biographical Sketches of Ecclesiastical Writers.













The Sixth Period of Church History.









CHAPTER I. ORIENTATION. mediaeval and modern christianity












CHAPTER II. zwingli's training. a.d. 1484-1519.

CHAPTER III. the reformation in zürich. 1519–1526.

CHAPTER IV. spread of the reformation in german switzerland and the grisons.

CHAPTER V. the civil and religious war between the roman catholic and reformed cantons.

CHAPTER VI. the period of consolidation.


CHAPTER VII. the preparatory work. from 1526 to 1536.

CHAPTER IX. from france to switzerland. 1509-1536.

CHAPTER X. calvin's first sojourn and labors in geneva. 1536-1538.

CHAPTER XI. calvin in germany. from 1538 to 1541.

CHAPTER XII. calvin's second sojourn and labors in geneva. 1541-1564.

CHAPTER XIII. constitution and discipline of the church of geneva.

CHAPTER XVI. servetus: his life, trial, and execution.

CHAPTER XVIII. closing scenes in the life of calvin.

* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.