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Archbishop Weighs In On Religion And Football

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Archbishop Leonard P. Blair (Courtesy Archbishop of Hartford)

Archbishop Leonard P. Blair (Courtesy Archbishop of Hartford)

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Even at a state university, Christian employees should hold a place for God on the football field, Hartford’s new archbishop said Sunday.

Archbishop Leonard Blair offered some support for a University of Connecticut football coaching staff member overruled by university President Susan Herbst for saying he’ll make sure players know that Jesus Christ should be in the players’ huddle.

Christians must be “very sensitive” to people of other faiths, Blair said in an interview on WFSB-TV’s “Face the State.”

“But having said that, I don’t think that means that we personally always have to be absolutely silent about our own religious convictions or spirituality,” he said. “As a Christian, a Catholic, you know, I would hope that we don’t so exclude religion and religious references from our speech in any kind of setting that somehow God is completely left out of the picture.”

Ernest Jones, running backs coach and director of player engagement, told The Hartford Courant in a story published Jan. 11 that he and others are going to make sure UConn’s players understand that “Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle.”

In response, Herbst said all students must feel welcome and employees at the public school cannot appear to endorse a particular religion. Athletic Director Warde Manuel and new football coach Bob Diaco made that clear to the staff, Herbst said.
Diaco and Jones came to Connecticut from Notre Dame, a private Roman Catholic University.

Blair was installed last month as the fifth archbishop of Hartford. He led the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, since 2003.

He said in his TV interview that he was not familiar with UConn, confusing it with the northwestern Canadian province of Yukon.
“I’m embarrassed to admit this,” he said.

    (© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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