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 Post subject: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:10 am 
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Hmmmm... so here's the situation. My husband and I registered for a marathon and half marathon. Two days ago, the race director revealed that the race poster was featuring a quote from the Bible - apparently it's the theme for the race. The race itself is not advertised as an explicitly religious event, and I feel kind of duped - like I had been sold one thing that is now something different. I'm not clear as to whether or not the on-course music or race materials will also have an overtly Christian bent to it.

I emailed the race director to express my concern about using the Bible quote. It makes me really uncomfortable and quite honestly I'm not ok with an event advertised as a secular race subtly and less-subtly foisting Christian beliefs on people who just want to compete in an athletic event that was not advertised as a religious event. In my email, I said that I hope that in future years that they won't choose an overly religious theme, and said had I known, I probably would not have registered for the race. He replied that since that particular quote doesn't actually exort people to convert to Christianity, and he doesn't see any difference between using a Bible quote and quotes from other athletes (e.g. Prefontaine, etc.), he didn't see a problem. But, all the same, he would refund the race fee if we didn't want to run it. He also said that the quote had special meaning to him because he was a Christian - well, I'm a Christian too, but that doesn't mean I fly around putting Bible quotes in people's faces for an event they pay $60-75 each to participate in.

I've been training for the last four weeks for this race, which is scheduled in mid-May and located in the same town as very good friends of ours. Moreover, it's my husband's first half marathon that he's training for. One of the big reasons this race is a good choice for us is that we won't have to pay for lodging (staying with aforementioned friends), and there's not a similarly-timed local marathon/half marathon race that we can do.

However, at the same time, I have friends who are of non-Christian faiths, and I feel it's really important for Christians to stand up and say that it's not ok for a supposedly secular event to promote Biblical verses on official race materials. If I were someone of a different faith, I would feel very uncomfortable running the race. In fact, I already feel pretty uncomfortable myself just because my experience has generally been very poor with folks who wear their Christianity on their sleeve, and I'm hesitant to participate in an event that is organized by such a person and probably attracts like-minded people. I know using Bible verses in otherwise secular settings is very common in various areas across the country, and clearly it happens far more often than one person can possibly address, but it's not right. At the same time, I'm not convinced that me getting my race registration refunded will really make that much of a difference.

I'm kind of at a loss. Should I just suck it up and run the dumb race despite the poster/race theme (the quote actually does appear on the race directors' email signature, too)? Thoughts?


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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:33 am 
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I would drop out, however I am very much not christian and pretty anti-religious. Since you are christian I think it seems more like the whole, straight people not getting married because gay people can't thing, and that can get a little silly.

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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:17 pm 
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If you feel duped, then you should drop out and get your money refunded. I don't necessarily think he was try to offend anyone though. I can see if he put john 3:16 on the poster, but if its something that not overly religious, despite the fact that it is a bible verse, then I can understand where he is coming from to a point.


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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:22 pm 
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I wouldn't do it either. He can keep his religion to himself, he doesn't need to impose that on anyone. It kind of sounds like he is "planting the seed," and I would be offended attending this event as a non-christian.

Maybe you can just visit your friends instead? Overall this sounds disappointing :( Sorry this happened!


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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:29 pm 
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I'd drop out letting the race director know exactly as to why. You might be the only one to take this action but at least you've let the RD know, and there might be others who also protest or drop out

Maybe just have a nice time still lodging with your friends as s?uggested

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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:31 pm 
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Yeah, that sounds a bit dodgy to me. Either it's a religious event, in which case, advertise it from the word go as such; or it's a secular event, in which case religious texts (no matter what level of prosletysing the organiser feels they carry) are downright inappropriate. It's not okay to con people into signing up and then "surprise! - you're all running on behalf of the church!". Would he feel okay if he'd signed up to a race which then advertised itself with a strong atheist position?

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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 3:44 pm 
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Ruby Rose wrote:
Yeah, that sounds a bit dodgy to me. Either it's a religious event, in which case, advertise it from the word go as such; or it's a secular event, in which case religious texts (no matter what level of prosletysing the organiser feels they carry) are downright inappropriate. It's not okay to con people into signing up and then "surprise! - you're all running on behalf of the church!". Would he feel okay if he'd signed up to a race which then advertised itself with a strong atheist position?



This is an excellent point. I agree with previous posters... drop out, get your refund, let him know why you're dropping out (perhaps use the above example) and then spend time with your friends.


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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 4:24 pm 
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phee wrote:
If you feel duped, then you should drop out and get your money refunded. I don't necessarily think he was try to offend anyone though. I can see if he put john 3:16 on the poster, but if its something that not overly religious, despite the fact that it is a bible verse, then I can understand where he is coming from to a point.


This argument would hold a whole lot more water for me if quotes from other religious texts were used as well, but cases like this I've seen in the US, anyway, it's the Bible. The race director also tried to say that quoting the Bible was similar to quoting Michael Jordan or Steve Prefontaine, which I think is a tough comparison to make.


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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:52 pm 
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I'm obviously in the minority, but I'd probably still do the race because of how well it fits your needs. I'm atheist and it would definitely bother me that the race director just assumed that everyone would be comfortable with his theme, but I think I'd be able to set that aside in order to run my race and see my friends. I certainly don't think quoting the bible is the same as quoting an athlete, but there are plenty of bible verses that don't offend me. John 3:16 would be a problem, but something less overt might not bother me. It really comes down to your personal comfort level, I guess. Maybe it doesn't bother me so much because in this neck of the woods, I don't run into it a lot.

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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:45 pm 
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Ruby Rose wrote:
Yeah, that sounds a bit dodgy to me. Either it's a religious event, in which case, advertise it from the word go as such; or it's a secular event, in which case religious texts (no matter what level of prosletysing the organiser feels they carry) are downright inappropriate. It's not okay to con people into signing up and then "surprise! - you're all running on behalf of the church!". Would he feel okay if he'd signed up to a race which then advertised itself with a strong atheist position?
This is pretty much exactly how I feel about the situation. Or, even worse (horrors!), a strong Muslim position? What about a strong Jewish position?

The Bible quote used is from Hebrews and talks about running the path that is marked out for us. While I understand ostensibly it seems very appropriate for a race, I am really uncomfortable with the metaphor it's supposed to be - the idea of living life according to (Christian) God's plan. Hence my hesitation.

Perhaps an analogous situation might be the use of this quote from Amos:
"But let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."

In a social justice setting, I have no problem with it at all. Then again, it's always used in the context of people drawing social justice values/positions from their faith tradition. Maybe it's context that makes this situation feel different.


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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:32 pm 
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drop out and run it without registration!


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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:44 pm 
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dandykins wrote:
phee wrote:
If you feel duped, then you should drop out and get your money refunded. I don't necessarily think he was try to offend anyone though. I can see if he put john 3:16 on the poster, but if its something that not overly religious, despite the fact that it is a bible verse, then I can understand where he is coming from to a point.


This argument would hold a whole lot more water for me if quotes from other religious texts were used as well, but cases like this I've seen in the US, anyway, it's the Bible. The race director also tried to say that quoting the Bible was similar to quoting Michael Jordan or Steve Prefontaine, which I think is a tough comparison to make.

The man is christian, so it would make sense that he would use a quote from the bible. if a Muslim person organized a race and used something from the Koran I wouldnt be offended, but we all know many people would, to them Id give the same advice


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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:44 pm 
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I might be in the minority too, I say run it. I've shown up for races in the past and found out that they are sponsored by churches I don't necessarily agree with, but at the end of the day, it's just a run. I have fun, take the swag, and go home. I don't think they mean harm by having a bible quote on the poster. If they asked religious questions when you register, or handed out religious pamphlets as you were running, then that would be an issue.


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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:52 pm 
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I'm Buddhist, and if the quote wasn't strongly religious, and that's the extent of the Christianity in the run, I'd still do it. I actually do like the Bible as a work of literature.

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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:23 am 
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I'd run, too. You've told him that it makes you uncomfortable and maybe he'll take the hint for future races.


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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:21 am 
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Apropos of an earlier post, I'd like to see an Atheist Marathon. "RUN IN SEARCH OF MEANING IN AN UNCARING UNIVERSE."

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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:48 am 
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 Post subject: Re: Overtly Christian marathon race poster - advice?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:01 pm 
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Well, THAT makes me feel better ; )


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