An attorney and former player on the Oral Roberts University men's basketball team is taking exception to a column saying his alma mater shouldn't have been invited to the NCAA tournament.
The men's basketball team at ORU made headlines last week after defeating Ohio State (a #2 seed) and Florida (a #7 seed) in the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis. Oral Roberts, which entered the tournament as a #15 seed (in the South regional) and #61 seed overall, is the lowest-seeded team moving into the "Sweet Sixteen" this weekend.
The team's surprising performance thus far hasn't gone unnoticed in the media – for obvious reasons. However, not everyone is applauding. Case in point: Hermal Jhaveri writes that ORU, a Christian university in Oklahoma, has "deeply bigoted anti-LGBTQ+ policies" that cannot and should not be ignored. In her column, published Tuesday in USA Today's "For The Win" section, Jhaveri points out that twice in its student handbook, ORU specifically prohibits homosexuality.
"If you follow [Jhaveri's] logic to its natural conclusion, this isn't just about sports. If orthodox Christians don't belong in basketball, why should they be allowed in business, entertainment, education, government, or medicine? If Christianity behind closed doors, on private property, in a private school, is now a target of outrage, where do you draw the line? Extremists like Jhaveri wouldn't.
"This is the canary in the coal mine when it comes to religious freedom. Because the real goal here isn't just pushing ORU to the exits. It's about driving all Bible-believing Christians, Christian education, and Christian institutions into some sort of spiritual ghetto – far away from the public square. It's the idea that religion is something we should keep to ourselves. And eventually, as we've seen in oppressive regimes throughout history, even that won't be enough."
Family Research Council
(March 24, 2021)
"In their student conduct section, under the heading of Personal Behavior, the school expressly condemns homosexuality, mentioning it in the same breath as 'occult practices,'" she writes. She also quotes from the university's student handbook:
"Students are expected to maintain the highest standards of integrity, honesty, modesty and morality…Certain behaviors are expressly prohibited in Scripture and therefore should be avoided by members of the University community. They include theft, lying, dishonesty, gossip, slander, backbiting, profanity, vulgarity (including crude language), sexual promiscuity (including adultery, any homosexual behavior, premarital sex), drunkenness, immodesty of dress and occult practices."
Responding Wednesday to this on American Family Radio, Abraham Hamilton III – a radio host and general counsel for American Family Association – said Jhaveri's reaction is the pinnacle of anti-Christian bigotry.
"She even went as far as to say not only should ORU not be in the tournament, they shouldn't even be allowed to be a part of the NCAA," noted Hamilton, adding: "Her objection is because they actually adhere to what the scripture teaches in these areas."
Hamilton played for ORU under Coach Scott Sutton, the son of Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton. "Coach Scott Sutton actually wrote a letter of recommendation for me for law school," recalled Hamilton. "So, I appreciate him for that."
One News Now spoke with Steven Ertelt, editor of LifeNews.com, about Jhaveri's column. Ertelt argues that the "cancel culture" has grown to the point where now even being a Christian in America is apparently too offensive for the liberal media.
"This is where we are at as a society where liberals are so offended by just about everything, including pro-life Christian values; but sadly, they're not offended by the things they should be offended about," Ertelt says.
The journalist also notes some irony: "The writer who wrote this piece saying ORU should be canceled is ironically the 'race and inclusion editor' – and here is a column that is excluding people simply based on their Christian faith."
Jhaveri was named to that position for the USA Today Sports Media Group just three weeks ago.
Oral Roberts is scheduled to play third-seeded Arkansas on Saturday (March 27).
Editor's notes: In image above, Oral Roberts players and coaches huddle on the court after a college basketball game against Florida in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Sunday, March 21, 2021 in Indianapolis. Oral Roberts won 81-78. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
The American Family Association is the parent organization of the American Family News Network, which operates OneNewsNow.com.