June 11, 2008
If I made a living presenting myself as God’s personal representative in the great cosmic battle between good and evil, I’d feel like a weenie for trying to get the local municipal council to do my work for me.
But that’s what Rev. Donald Mossa, a pastor in Morris County, N.J., thinks the Hanover Township Committee ought to do for him. It appears the rev. is having trouble keeping his flock from strayijng to baseball games on Sunday, when they should be spending more quality time with the invisible guy in the sky. He thinks it’s the job of the local government to legislate some piety by banning Sunday sports:
“The anxiety of ‘Do I go to church or do I take my kid to the soccer game?’ is a weekly ordeal,” said Mossa, a pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Whippany. “It’s letting the team down versus letting God down.”
Mossa is part of a group of pastors from eight Hanover churches that is asking township officials to ban sports games on Sunday mornings.
The group, called the Hanover Township Interreligious Council, approached the township committee last month for help in “restoring sacredness to the Sabbath.” The holy day, the group contends, is crucial during a time when divorce rates and substance abuse appear to be on the rise.
The group represents all the churches in town and spans five denominations, serving more than 5,000 parishioners. This week, the pastors also planned to e-mail 63 churches in Morris, Sussex, Hunterdon and Warren counties to ask for their support.
We’ll put aside the lazy-minded canard about rising divorce rates — they’ve actually been dropping for the past quarter-century — and focus on the melodramatic flair Rev. Mossa brings to the task of inflicting his religion on everyone around him. “It’s letting the team down versus letting God down.” I mean, if God the creator of the universe and the cosmos and everything in between really feels let down because Junior would rather field baseballs than listen to mumbo-jumbo, then he can put a pillar of fire in front of the ticket booth or send down a rain of frogs on the bleachers to express his displeasure. He certainly doesn’t need a cabal of village witch doctors agitating for new laws that won’t survive a moment’s constitutional challenge.
The Star-Ledger story shows entirely too many local officials taking it for granted that their job is to appease these pious pests, but that’s why we have the ACLU — to give Americans an ally in the protection of American values, and to give the knuckle-draggers something to whine about when their religiously based ordinances get shot down. I almost called it a God-given gift, but maybe I’ll just call it a win-win scenario and leave it at that.