By Matthew Goodman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Joan Brown Campbell’s recent speech on religious tolerance proved timelier than ever when a NFL referee penalized a player for performing a Muslim prayer on the field the same night.
Campbell, 83, has worked within the Christian community for years in organizations such as the Global Compassion Council and the Chautauqua Institution, as well as working as a preacher in several churches. She was a civil rights worker for many years in the U.S. and South Africa.
After speaking extensively about her work and experiences with Martin Luther King Jr., Campbell addressed a panel of students who presented her with questions.
“I do not think it is my call to make them all Christians,” Campbell said when asked about her role as a religious leader. “I think it is my job to be the best Christian I can be.”
She went on to add that she believes non-Christians and Christians alike are “God’s children” and that she should love and respect their beliefs.
Later that night on Monday Night Football, Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for “going to the ground” as a touchdown celebration when he slid on his knees and did a quick prayer.
The NFL quickly made a statement that he should not have been penalized, but even Abdullah thought the penalty was for his slide, not for the prayer as he mentioned following the incident.
Despite the acknowledgement that prayer isn’t to be penalized, many took the opportunity to express their opinion on the celebration and Muslims in general.
“Just be happy he didn’t pull out a blade and take the refs head off in front of all those people,” Michael Ross Loosier commented on an online USA Today article about the incident.
The comment, an apparent reference to ISIS, was one of many negative comments against Abdullah and Islam in general.
“These Muzzie scum are usually ‘preying’ on Christians to add to their head collection,” added William E. Mansfield on the same comment section.
This isn’t the first time a religious celebration has been criticized, and it’s not just Islam. Tim Tebow’s kneeling celebration was welcomed by many, but also criticized and mocked by others for pushing his ideals.
An entire comment section on an ESPN article gained fame when people began repeatedly posting jokes about things better than Tim Tebow. Though these were references to his ability as a quarterback rather than his religion, there are numerous NFL quarterbacks with worse statistics that haven’t been criticized so adamantly.
Campbell, who received the 2010 Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award, commented on religious intolerance in her speech by saying “the faith of others is as precious as ours” and that “we need to come to respect other religions.”