Guest / Limited Access /

The separation of church and sport appeared a distant memory this summer as dozens of professional baseball teams hosted Faith Nights. That is, until the Atlanta Braves asked Focus on the Family not to return after the major-league debut of the marketing phenomenon.

The Braves partnered with Third Coast Sports, which has promoted Faith Nights since 2003, on July 27 to host a post-game concert by a Christian rock band, a testimony by star pitcher John Smoltz, and an appearance by VeggieTales characters.

As an event sponsor, Focus handed out promotional materials. Within a week, the Braves contacted Third Coast Sports to ask Focus not to return for similar events on August 13 and 26. Braves spokeswoman Beth Marshall declined to provide CT with a reason for the decision.

Rich Bennett, director of marketing for Focus, downplayed media speculation that the Braves asked Focus not to return because of its stance against homosexuality. A better explanation, according to Bennett, may be an article Focus's website posted on July 11 about John Malone, a candidate to become the Braves' owner. A Focus official called Malone "one of the biggest pornographers in America," because his company On Command supplies pornography along with other films to many hotels. The article also mentioned that Citizen magazine, published by Focus, was planning a story about Malone. However, Bennett told CT that Focus's public policy team decided they "have nothing more to say on the subject of the Braves' ownership."

"If that was the Braves' reason [for asking us not to return]," Bennett said, "I think it was a reasonable one."

While sports teams occasionally courted Christians before, Faith Nights began in 2002 as a promotion for the Nashville Sounds, a Milwaukee ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
Disputed Dismissal
Was it flame mails or budget cuts that cost a Greenville professor his job?
RecommendedIn Memory: The Man Who Brought Harmony to Billy Graham’s Ministry
In Memory: The Man Who Brought Harmony to Billy Graham’s Ministry
Music director Cliff Barrows served for decades with a peaceful spirit and joyful song.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickFairness for All: Evangelicals Explore Truce on LGBT and Religious Rights
Fairness for All: Evangelicals Explore Truce on LGBT and Religious Rights
It worked in Utah. But national effort by the CCCU and NAE will be more complicated.
Christianity Today
Braves Lose Focus
hide thisOctober October

In the Magazine

October 2006

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.