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Unspoken Faith: Overcoming Obstacles to Free Expression in Athletics and Education

Updated: Mar 23, 2023

In my recent post, I explore the obstacles athletes, coaches, faculty, and staff face when sharing their spiritual beliefs. It's challenging to express oneself freely due to the fear of rejection and persecution which can hinder personal growth. I hope to shed light on how these challenges limit our freedom of speech and affect individual development.

As a coach, I prioritize team bonding and communication exercises to foster trust and collaboration among my athletes. Through leadership training, the team is better prepared to work together to achieve their shared goals. Authenticity and transparency are crucial in building genuine connections, fostering personal development, and promoting team success. By pretending to be someone we're not, we miss these opportunities.

As coaches and athletes striving to bring teams together, it's essential to encourage honest sharing and transparency, which also involves discussing the central aspect of our faith. This allows us to bond and work better together towards our goals. As Mark 16:15 says, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation," Christians are encouraged to share the gospel. However, it's vital to do so in a non-coercive way as Christianity revolves around experiencing a personal relationship with God, where the choice to follow Him is up to the individual, and we can only guide them towards it. So let's be open and genuine in sharing our beliefs, knowing that we can respectfully accept and support each other regardless of our differences.

My second point concerns the issue of restricted free speech, which manifests in two forms: campus policy and self-censorship.

Expressing your faith on college campuses can be a mixed bag depending on where you are, who you're with, and the school's policies. Unfortunately, some universities have made it a challenge for faith-based students to share their beliefs. They limit certain activities or speech or prioritize particular perspectives over others. This can leave faith-oriented students feeling like their voices aren't heard or respected on campus.

People increasingly censor their thoughts and actions because they've internalized societal norms or external pressures. If you're a person of faith, this can be especially tough because you might fear being judged or persecuted for speaking your mind. Unfortunately, this self-censorship often happens on college campuses, which can seriously impact our athletes, coaches, and faculty. When we feel like we can't express ourselves honestly, it's hard to grow personally and professionally. That's why it's so important to support free speech and spiritual expression without fear of repercussion. We need to make sure everyone feels comfortable being themselves and sharing their beliefs openly - that leads to true creativity and growth.

As a coach, I understand how internal censorship and fear of persecution can hinder free speech and hold back personal growth. At times, even policies on campus can contribute to this pressure. However, being open and honest about our faith is essential, especially for building a solid team or community. It's important to share our faith appropriately without being pushy or aggressive. Instead, we should concentrate on creating genuine connections and promoting teamwork through our authenticity. Doing this can foster a trusting and supportive environment that encourages everyone to feel comfortable expressing themselves.

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