The RP: Anti-Christian Fervor Consumes Kentucky (No, This isn’t a “War on X-mas” Article)

As the author of a book on the role of faith and public policy and — perhaps more significantly — a religious minority (Jewish) who grew up and lives in the Bible Belt, I’m particularly sensitive to any implication of religious bias and discrimination in my home state of Kentucky.

Indeed, I’ve used this very forum to bemoan anti-Hindu attacks leveled by a gubernatorial candidate, call out anti-Semitic slurs ejaculated by a prominent GOP official, and celebrate the recent emergence of prominent Jew-ish Gentiles in American pop culture.

That’s why I’m especially concerned about the possible outbreak of anti-Christian pandemonium in the wake of a disturbing event Saturday night that rocked the Bluegrass faithful.

Some quick background:  I’m often asked how a Jewish pischer like me could get elected to office in a place like Kentucky. My reply is that there is only one organized religion in my home state, and that’s University of Kentucky basketball.

Each fall, people in every corner of the Commonwealth (except discrete subdivisions of Louisville) join together in spiritual reverie to cherish the flagship state university’s roundballers. By March, the devotional frenzy reaches the point of, yes, madness, as the Wildcats inevitably surge deep into the NCAA tourney.

But precisely twenty seasons ago, Kentucky’s hopes for championship salvation were cruelly and iniquitously sabotaged by a Devil named Christian.

Stomp Christian with your mouse click to watch the worst moment, well, in all of history

Christian Laettner, the Duke Blue Devil, that is.

Christian’s dastardly and despicable antics, including stomping on the back of a prone Wildcat player, and then daring to shoot a perfect 10 for 10 from the field — including a last second swish that broke a million hearts in the Big Blue Nation — vaulted him into a two-decades-long run as Public Enemy #1 in the Bluegrass State.

Just a few months ago, Christian dared to step foot into the holy cathedral of Kentucky hoops — Lexington’s Rupp Arena — and coach a team of “Villains” to victory over a squad of Wildcat alums. Incensed UK devotees wearing “I Still Hate Laettner” t-shirts filled the hardwood pews.

Perhaps the forces of harmony and civility believed that this one last opportunity to vent anti-Christian hatred would forever consign Kentucky’s anti-Christian reputation to the historical dustbin.

But alas, peace is not at hand.

This past Saturday night, the heavily-favored, nationally top-ranked UK basketball squad faced its struggling, unranked longtime hoops rival, the University of Indiana Hoosiers, before a hostile Bloomington, Indiana crowd.  After falling behind late in the game by as many as ten points, the Wildcats valiantly made a Tim Tebow-esque comeback, and with just a few seconds left, held a two point lead.

The shot that sent the Big Blue Nation into harrowing grief on Saturday

And then, an unknown Indiana baller hurled a desperate, long-range three-point shot as time ran out.

Nothing but net.

Kentucky lost its number one ranking, its chances for an undefeated season, and worst of all, the bragging rights in a bitter, historical rivalry.

(Example of common local repartee:  Q: Why doesn’t Kentucky fall into Tennessee? A: Because Indiana sucks.)

And who was this #2 Hoosier, this anonymous imposter who plunged a knife into all that is right and holy and good?

Watford is his name.

Christian Watford.

Christians defeating the Wildcats in the arena — rewriting 2000 years of Roman history.


My fellow Kentuckians, please be on the alert for anti-Christian overreaction this week. While it is entirely justified to hate Messrs. Laettner and Watford, it is not christian to hold all Christians to the same dastardly standard.

So, a warning.  To Batman (C. Bale).  To the dude who did the mean Jack Nicholson impression in Heathers (C. Slater).  To the Night Rangers’ Sister C.  You Christians are always welcome in the Bluegrass State. But you might want to wait a few weeks.

And please, please, whatever you do — do not pick up a basketball while you are here.


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