Sunday’s Mass in Ruth’s House Contemptible

Before I get into the Pope at Yankee Stadium, I’d like to first discuss the fact that State Farm Insurance had been intentionally and blatantly bilking Hurricane Katrina victims out of their insurance claims. I was appalled to find out that State Farm was denying claims to its customers who had lost everything to the destructive path of the hurricane because the damage was, according to State Farm, caused by floods and winds, which are not covered under their policies. They were backing these egregious claims up by manipulating the claims reports, acquiring “scientifically dishonest” information, and performing “sham re-inspections” of homes.

In addition, State Farm has also been playing hardball on minor-crash claims. According to a CNN.com article from February 2007:

In an affidavit in a New Mexico case where Allstate is being sued, one of the company’s former attorneys said the strategy is to make fighting the company “so expensive and so time-consuming that lawyers would start refusing to help clients.”

If you recall the 2007 MLB All-Star Game and Home Run Derby, State Farm had its logo plastered all over. Since then, State Farm has affiliated with all four major sports organizations and you’ll find banners at every arena, commercials during every national telecast, and in some cases, State Farm being brought to you by some segments like the “Play of the Game.”

The reason why I bring this up is that these sports organizations are affiliating themselves with a reprehensible company. They are all either completely ignorant of or entirely uncaring towards State Farm’s abhorrent practices. It is my hope that with enough exposure of State Farm’s misdeeds, there can be pressure put on these organizations to halt their ties with State Farm.

Similarly, the Pope – the infallible leader of the Roman Catholic Church and leader of Vatican City – is at the top of an organization responsible for abhorrent practices, but the numbers in this case are exponentially greater and the actions more disgusting than State Farm’s. Everyone, of course, is familiar with what I am talking about: the numerous, undying revelations of sex abuse – mostly of children – within the ranks of the Catholic Church. However, only the people who have been caught have been punished; the institution responsible for fostering these urges has never once been given even a mere slap on the wrist. The Pope and the Catholic Church have been given infinite “Get out of jail free” cards.

Bill Maher made some excellent points on April 11’s edition of Real Time with Bill Maher during his “New Rules” segment. He said, “When the current Pope was in his previous Vatican job as John Paul’s Dick Cheney, he wrote a letter instructing every Catholic bishop to keep the sex abuse of minors secret until the statute of limitations ran out. And that’s the Church’s attitude.”

Later on, Maher added, “But just remember one thing: If the Pope was, instead of a religious figure, merely the CEO of a nationwide chain of daycare centers, where thousands of employees had been caught molesting kids, and then covering it up, he’d be arrested […]”

Yankee Stadium on Sunday housed 57,000 hysterical followers of Catholicism and fans of Pope Benedict, “the CEO of a nationwide chain of daycare centers.” The city of New York not only associated with, but enthusiastically opened their doors to an organization made up of “thousands of employees [who] had been caught molesting kids.” To make matters worse, a plaque commemorating the Pope’s visit will be placed in Monument Park alongside the likes of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, and Joe DiMaggio.

This, to me, is unforgivable, and it’s shameful that not one word of criticism has been pointed in New York’s direction. To clarify, I am referring to both the city of New York and the Yankees, as the city bought the stadium for $24 million in 1972 and leased it back to the Yankees. In addition, I’m not claiming that all Catholics or all of Catholicism is bad; there are many philanthropic Catholics and the religion is also used to aid needy people, but it doesn’t somehow forgive what has been done. I’m sure State Farm donates millions of dollars to charities every year, but it doesn’t mean we should forgive them for bilking Katrina victims.

When any business is proposed an offer, such as Major League Baseball being proposed an offer from State Farm to place their logo on billboards across all 30 stadiums, you’d think that that business would only want to associate itself with other businesses who share their positive ideals. After all, you are judged by those you associate yourself with, and if Major League Baseball is associating itself with a company that intentionally slights their customers (particularly those who have few assets), that can’t reflect well on MLB. Similarly, the city of New York and the Yankees should be embarrassed for being so complacent in allowing a religion that is not only responsible for but fosters and attempts to cover up sex abuse within the ranks of the Catholic Church to host 57,000 followers in Yankee Stadium.

When you apply for something like a job, a loan, or a credit card, they look for red flags in your history, reasons they might be concerned about you. Oftentimes, you are asked if you’ve ever committed any crimes. Could you imagine if the Catholic Church had to apply for something like this as an ordinary person would, and have to answer honestly? How quickly would they be rejected when the other side reads “child molester” on the application? Whoever said that there’s strength in numbers must have been talking about the Catholic Church.

In closing, the ballpark is for watching baseball games, not a venue to express patriotism or religious beliefs. Don’t just passively accept everything you see and hear at the ballpark anymore: think about what that national anthem and American flag really means to you and not what it means to everyone else, or what it’s “supposed” to mean to you; what that State Farm advertisement hanging on the façade of the second deck symbolizes to the thousands of people who have lost friends and family members and their homes to Hurricane Katrina, and have nothing left in their name but the clothes on their back; and what it means to the seven-year-old kid who is at “The House that Ruth Built” for the first time in his life on April 29 –  when the Yankees come back home to face the Detroit Tigers – after it hosted 57,000 followers and the leaders of a religion responsible for thousands of cases of child molestation.

Baseball used to be about the fans and the beautiful, intellectual game; now it’s about profit margins, appeasing large political and religious groups.

The saying goes “simpler is better.” Leave the pageantry and political and religious connections for another venue, let’s get back to “see the ball, hit the ball,” as Aubrey Huff would say. The ballpark is the perfect place for traditionalists and Sabermetricians, Red Sox and Yankees fans, liberals and conservatives, theists and atheists, rich and poor, young and old to come together and put aside the stresses of everyday life for three and a half hours in favor of the stresses of failed sacrifice bunts, dropped infield flies, four-pitch walks to the opposing pitcher, and lead-changing home runs in the top of the ninth inning.

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5 comments

  1. Charles Bass

    April 25, 2008 04:18 PM

    It’s a publicly funded venue, so they can and should be used for public events. I’m not Catholic and I certainly agree about the Church’s complicity. But, like it or not, 50,000 people wanted to come see him. When you get to those numbers, it’s hard to find a venue that can hold that kind of a crowd.

    As advertisements go, I’m pretty sure advertising has been a distinct part of baseball stadiums for just about as long as it’s been played *professionally*. Politicizing the nature of the advertisements starts you down a slippery slope. It’s one thing not to like it; it’s absurd to think we’re going to free ourselves from it.

    Unless you want publicly funded baseball. Hey, that’s not a bad idea…

  2. Bill B.

    April 25, 2008 04:33 PM

    It’s a publicly funded venue, so they can and should be used for public events.

    If taxpayer money is used to pay for a religious event, it breaches the separation of church and state.

    Politicizing the nature of the advertisements starts you down a slippery slope.

    Holding companies responsible for those they associate with is a common practice. I know lots of people boycotted companies who advertise during Bill O’Reilly’s show on FOX News.

    it’s absurd to think we’re going to free ourselves from it.

    One can hope.

    Unless you want publicly funded baseball.

    As a proponent of socialism, that sounds good to me. :)

  3. John

    April 25, 2008 05:22 PM

    yeah did taxpayer money actually fund the event (legitimate question)? if the catholic church were to rent out yankee stadium or nationals stadium (which i don’t know if they did or not), that wouldn’t be breaching church and state, would it?

  4. Charles Bass

    April 25, 2008 06:35 PM

    Well, stadiums are publicly subsidized but privately held. I think the public should take advantage of these stadiums whenever they can because, as much as I love baseball, it’s ridiculous that non-baseball loving taxpayers have to finance a top-notch, perk-infested stadium.

    In any event, religious groups (not just the pope) rent these publicly funded but privately held stadiums/arenas all the time. So long as they’re being charged at fair market value for rental of the space, I don’t see a problem. And the government, of course, should get more return on its investment.

    Bill, for the record, I agree that we can hold companies accountable. But I don’t think the baseball stadium is the best place to do it. Your call to arms might prove more effective elsewhere, for precisely the reason you’re agitated — people want to enjoy the game, pure and simple. It’s an escape from problems like Katrina, not a reminder. It’d be better if more people had your response, but I’m pretty sure the last thing they want to do is to be reminded of their ignorance at the ballpark.

  5. MoonDog

    April 26, 2008 12:57 PM

    I was raised as a Catholic but have since left the church. I attended a Catholic grade/high schools and I was well indoctrinated. I left the Catholic faith for many reasons, one of which is their hypocrisy.

    I won’t get into the issue of using the stadium because I really don’t care if they did or didn’t. But I can assure you I was thoroughly pissed off after being told what I was made to believe truthful, only to learn I’d been lied to for decades.

    And don’t think Catholic charities are all that either. I know Catholics who have attended the schools and churches, paid tuitions and donated to the church, and in their time of need, had to go through so much red tape it wasn’t even worth trying to get the diocese to help them.

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