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  • Record does not support criticism of Ron Brown

    Ron Brown had better learn to thrive in hot water. That's where he is right now, and probably where he'll stay throughout his career as assistant football coach at the University of Nebraska.

    That's because he's an evangelical Christian who speaks out about his faith whether he's on the job or not. That'll get you in big trouble as American society becomes increasingly secular, politically correct and tolerant – to every faith except Christianity. It has made Brown the target of potshots taken by people who want to score points for their political agenda by trying to get him fired.

    ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski is one of the latest to criticize Brown for his opposition to the expansion of Omaha's anti-discrimination ordinance to include homosexuals, joining more predictable attacks from the Huffington Post, which has made the ridicule of social conservatives into an art form. Their premise: Brown hates homosexuals and if he isn't actively persecuting gays who may be on the Nebraska roster, he certainly is intimidating them – or he would be if they weren't too scared to join the team.

    "And what if there were a gay player on the Nebraska roster?" wrote Wojciechowski in his April 27 column on ESPN's website. "Or what if one of the players Brown is trying to recruit this week is gay, or has a family member or friend who is gay?
    "These are not unreasonable scenarios. Would you want to play for a coach who thinks God loves gays less than women or African-Americans? Would you want to play for a coach who preaches compassion and love, but is willing to turn his back on a fellow human being because of that person's sexual orientation?"

    It's a huge leap of logic to say that because someone oppose a certain public policy proposal, he hates the people who support that proposal, but I hear it all the time when it comes to gay rights, and that's essentially what Wojciechowski and Huffington Post blogger Cyd Ziegler have done in the last few weeks. They criticize him for using his job as a platform to oppose the widening of anti-discrimination ordinances to include homosexuals even as they use their own jobs as platforms to promote the widening of anti-discrimination ordinances to include homosexuals.

    A responder to Ziegler's March 22 blog said he played football at NU during Brown's tenure as assistant coach. He disputed the notion that Brown intimidates players who disagree with him. In fact, the responder said Brown never pushed his religious beliefs on players, and that nobody complained about Brown or his Christianity.

    "Yes we knew he was Christian," the responder wrote. "He did not sway us to dislike non-Christians."

    That former player had firsthand experience with Brown, and so do I. Here's some disclosure: as a staff member for a Christian camp, I assisted with one of Brown's "Mission Nebraska" initiatives about a decade ago. In 2005, as sports editor of the North Platte Bulletin, I interviewed him after he was fired by Bill Callahan. Brown was gracious in his attitude toward Callahan and Steve Pederson. After moving to the Lincoln area in 2009, I began attending the same church as Brown, and have interviewed him at least three times since then.

    Knowing what I do about Brown and his theology, I would oppose anyone who says Brown believes God loves gays less than other human beings.

    While Brown's critics do their best to stir up anger with their hypothetical scenarios, they have avoided a real-life situation involving a player Brown works with every day in practice as running back coach.

    Ameer Abdullah will be a sophomore running back at Nebraska this fall. His religion is Islam. Brown is an evangelical Christian who holds views very much in opposition to Abdullah's. So here's your test. How does Brown treat players who don't believe as he does?

    Well sure enough, in late April, a Nebraska running back unexpectedly quit the team. Was it a result of Brown and his outspoken faith?

    Nope. The player who left the team was another sophomore, Aaron Green, whose background is evangelical Christian.

    Last fall, under Brown's tutelage, Abdullah became the second-string I-back behind all-conference performer Rex Burkhead, moving ahead of Green on the depth chart.

    Green's leaving the Cornhuskers likely had nothing to do with Brown or his beliefs – from early reports, it sounds like he mainly wants to be closer to home in Texas. The point, however, is this: the coach has not turned his back on Ameer Abdullah, a player who has a substantially different faith than his own. In fact, the opposite is true. All signs indicate he is treating Abdullah with fairness and respect. And I'm not surprised.

    Ron Brown is an excellent football coach who has strong Christian beliefs and makes strong statements about them. That doesn't make him a hater. But it will keep him in hot water.

    Formerly the sports editor at the North Platte Bulletin and a sportswriter/columnist for the North Platte Telegraph, Tad Stryker is a longtime Nebraska sports writer, having covered University of Nebraska and high school sports for more than 25 years. He started writing for this website in 2008. You can e-mail him at
    Comments 86 Comments
    1. Unregiste Redpack's Avatar
      Unregiste Redpack -
      Ron Brown is one of the best coaches Nebraska has. No matter which position he coaches they improve, WR TE RB everywhere they have improved. Brown makes kids better football players but more importantly he makes kids better men! It doesnt matter if you agree or disagree with his faith or stance against certain things he would call (sin) he has never waivered on his beliefs. Bo knew what he was getting in Brown when he hired him and so did Harvey! NU should be proud to have a man of such integrity. It is sad that a national writer would attack Brown and not take into consideration what good Brown has done for kids over his career. Anyone who would take the time to look into Browns life would know he does'nt hate anyone he hates what he believes to be sin and is speaking out against that not the people. One of his own quotes is "hate the sin NOT the person! Come on WOJO go a little deeper and get the whole story.
    1. ben's Avatar
      ben -
      Tad, I understand what you're saying but I think you are missing the point. There is no proof (or even reasonable accusations) that Ron Brown is treating non-practicing-Christian players as "lesser" people - that is not the issue at all. The issue is that, at some point, everybody is responsible to society at large. That is especially true as an employee of a public university, and ESPECIALLY one who gains extra attention through his affiliation with the University.

      What would you say if Ron Brown used his religion as a basis to argue against legal protection for interracial marriage or women's suffrage? As with his stance again the rights of homosexuals, such positions may not affect his performance on the job (strictly speaking) but it is completely unacceptable to have a famous University employee (and one identifying himself as such) publicly backing the idea that thousands of the people who pay his salary belong in a legal underclass.
    1. Husker Fan's Avatar
      Husker Fan -
      Some very good points but a few off the mark as well. The best example, as you note, is that Brown works well with Abdullah and there has been at least an article or two noting their respect for each other and their beliefs. (Please recall that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam sprang from the same well and some of the books in each of their holy books are fundamentally the same.)

      I think you fell off the cart in saying in comparing Brown to a Huffington Post writer. Writers on sites like that are political commentators. It is their job to comment on social issues, that's what they are paid for. You don't have to like their views or read them.....they are all over the political landscape in any belief you can imagine. Ron Brown was not hired to write political commentary, he was hired to coach, something he seems pretty good at. He can certainly advocate outside that but any public employee has to tread a thin line in that regard in terms of how they represent those views.

      As for society being tolerant of anyone but Christians? Really? How many public holidays are there in the US for Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist holy days? Christians are clearly the majority in terms of religious people in the US and as a result, every time they don't get their way, someone claims they are being persecuted when in fact they have most of the power.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Thank you for providing what the liberal media could not, a well-thought and somewhat personal expose on the real person who is Ron Brown.
    1. CA Bum's Avatar
      CA Bum -
      Keep speaking the truth Coach Brown.
      "Don't pray for easier times.
      Pray to be stronger men."
    1. BigRedExpo1's Avatar
      BigRedExpo1 -
      I agree Coach Brown shouldn't be fired for his personal beliefs and lifestyle. Neither should homosexuals. Tad, it seems like you know Coach Brown quite well. Is there any idea as to why, at the city council hearing, he chose to claim Memorial Stadium as his address of residence (I mean I know coaches are there a lot...)? Or why he hasn't taken a stand against the "gay agenda" in his own university (UNL has a non-bias policy that includes homosexuals)? Do you think he thinks people should be able to be fired for violating the 10 commandments at home (more like 9, murder is understandably fireable)? Since you bring up Ameer Abdullah, you think Coach believes Abdullah is going to hell? Again, I don't think he should be fired for his personal beliefs and lifestyle. He was reckless in delivering his message by making it seem as if his position at UNL gave him some authority (again, why Memorial Stadium?) and just about any coach entering a political forum is going to come under scrutiny. Of course criticisms of him are going to be overstated (he's not a bully), and so are the defenses of him (the poor persecuted 80 percent of the country). We should be proud of his work with young men, many of whom are from rough backgrounds. He might do himself, his players, and his Christian bosses a favor and not enter the political arena again.
    1. leeweber's Avatar
      leeweber -
      In the tense angry days of the Civil Rights Movement, great Jazz musician Miles Davis was fiercely criticized for hiring a white member of his band...he responded, "I don't care if he is white, black, green, or polka-dotted...all I care about is if he can play, man." Ron Brown can coach...and his players, black, white, Christian, Muslim, atheist, Gay, straight, from cornfields or ghettos, respect him for his coaching....let's leave it at that.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Fire Ron. It's not whether or not you or he thinks his beliefs impact his job. It's that he publicly demonstrates & advocates for things that are a direct opposite of the University. Bigotry masked by religion is still bigotry.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      Journalist are not state employees and don't state their addresses as one stadium drive Lincoln ne when being a bigot ate public hearing.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      He should be fired, not for his beliefs, but because he broke university policy. It's simple. The university does not discriminate based on sexual orientation. At the omaha city council meeting, he stated his address was memorial stadium, therefore claiming to represent the University. See paragraph 8 sentence 2.
    1. WA Husker's Avatar
      WA Husker -
      We now know where Tad Stryker apparently stands on the gay issue. Thanks for clearing that up, Tad. BTW, I think that is precisely the purpose of this article. Yellow Dent #2: You apparently don't get out much, if this is your Pulitzer nominee for the year. Ron Brown is a big boy. And he did trot out his NU credentials when he spoke his "truths." Man up, Ron. And, oh, there are those of us people of Christian faith who disagree strongly with your church's stand, Tad, and whose voices have been completely drowned out by your religious brand crowding any airway that will listen. If you are persecuted, NU is this year's pick for BCS Champion. Last thing, unless you are a gay athlete who made you an expert on the subject of the matter? By "homosexual agenda" do you mean like the "black coaches agenda," Tad? So Nebraska ....
    1. hskrncibolo's Avatar
      hskrncibolo -
      We are Lucky to have RB as our coach!!! Like my new Samsung 2 skyrocket , first post!
    1. WA Husker's Avatar
      WA Husker -
      PS NU has yet to finish in the top 10 during this coaching staff's 5-year tenure. A lot of sports writers think they are barely Top 20 this year. I'm thinking Rin Brown has job security problems barely related to being a Bigot for Christ.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      As a Christiian I am sure Ron Brown knows he will be persecuted and for standing up for his Christian values - Biblical values. As the apostles rejoiced for being counted worthy of suffering for their beliefs ( Acts 5:41), so I encourage Ron to rejoice as well. On this - the National Day of Prayer - I hope and pray we all consider those same Biblcal values our country was founded on and not turn our backs to or deny those values that made our nation great.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      A well-written article. Thank you!

      Brown and others like him do not promote discrimination. Nor do they oppose protection under the law of any American citizen from harassment or abuse - black, white, Muslim, Buddhist, straight or gay. Those laws are already in place. What they do oppose is the radical homosexual agenda being advanced by a very determined few. An agenda that is aimed at legislatures, schools, and, ultimately, our children.

      While they cry out for constitutional rights, they have no problem trampling the free speech and practice of religion rights of others.

      An oblivious public will one day wake up and realize that this radical agenda has slipped in the back door (excuse the pun), but by then it will be too late.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      The assumption that Christianity is a monolithic religion is, of course, a gross misunderstanding of reality. It is right up there with the assumption that all Muslims are the same in their practice of their faith.

      Some of the first colonialists in the New World were Christians escaping from English Christians in order to gain the freedom to worship as they pleased. As soon as they arrived, these Christians who escaped religious oppression declared their version of Christianity to be the ONE TRUE version of their faith, and they told other arrivals who didn’t believe exactly the way they did to leave and settle elsewhere.

      Christians and Christianity were also deeply involved in the establishment of chattel slavery (the breeding and selling of humans the way it’s done with livestock). The Christians who originally settled in Virginia brought with them indentured servants, some of whom were Africans. Soon those same Christians created laws that converted indentured servitude into chattel slavery for the Africans.

      Christianity doesn’t have a monopoly on the decent moral values that we hold dear. Remember that most of the “true believing” Christians in the South prior to the Civil War were sure that The Bible approved of chattel slavery. Christianity played a role in helping Christian slaves stay strong and resolute in the face of amazing oppression.

      The point being, Ron Brown’s use of his version of Christianity and his interpretation of The Bible is merely one of many. I am sure that Ron Brown is a fine man and a fine coach. I am sure he knows his business in developing football talent. The criticisms about his preaching his faith as the TRUE way that ALL Christians believe about all thing Biblical is fair game for discussion. The potential negative side effects for Husker recruiting is a real possibility.

      More specifically, not all Christians believe that LGBT is a lifestyle choice. Sexual orientation is something people are born with. God made them that way, and as Coach Brown would say…He doesn’t make mistakes.
    1. BJW's Avatar
      BJW -
      Any person that believes that homosexuality is a choice is beyond ignorant. My mother is a third grade teacher. She can recognize at that early age when a child is going to be a homosexual. The amount of persecution, not only from one's family and friends, is beyond enough of a good reason not to fantasize about someone of the same sex. Ron Brown believing that this can be changed is ignorance and a mere cult-like influence of the Christian faith he believes in. It is his own right to "believe" in such a thing, but as an official representing a team that basically the whole entire state backs he should keep his own beliefs private.
    1. akweasel's Avatar
      akweasel -
      Great article and well stated. Clearly folks haven't went through any liberal arts courses at the good old University of Nebraska lately. Hate, intolerance, closed mindedness, favoritism, racism, and just plan old judging others with a broad brush if they don't conform was and still is a daily occurrence. Nothing I enjoy more than the self proclaimed tolerant and open minded showing just how intolerant and closed minded they truly are. Oh, and it doesn't seem to bother the University and or the Chancellor when their professors state truly sick, unfounded, and ignorant messages in the name of the U. Hmm......most interesting.

      I also enjoy the argument that homosexuality isn't a choice. Last time I looked lots of things aren't a choice. Cheating on your spouse, speeding, speaking your mind, heterosexuality and being truly duped by ones own know, somethings are not a lifestyle choice, God doesn't make mistakes. Party on folks!
    1. Pete's Avatar
      Pete -
      Ron Brown is an idiot, but aren't we all? Didn't almost all of us get indoctrinated into Christianity as children and now believe mythology as truth? Don't we now believe in virgin births, in dead people floating up to heaven, in a magical man in the sky who hears everything we think? It's absurd, and yet like sheep we fall right in line because it was drilled into our heads as children.

      It's time for more people to come out and admit they don't believe in this b.s.
    1. Unregistered's Avatar
      Unregistered -
      No bigotry, no discrimination, simple as that. That's not political correctness it's actual correctness. Sanctioned discrimination is wrong, it doesn't matter if the object of that discrimination gives some people the heeby jeebies because it is not your life and our government obviously did not intend to have the Bible's [sometimes inconsistent] guidance hold sway over its own laws. People on both sides want the right to take away other people's rights and that's bad for everybody.

      BTW, my humble interpretation of the Bible's main message is that we are to worship God, love everybody and help the poor. That message seems to be getting lost on some people.
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