This city's clergy complain that young parishioners are forced to choose between amateur sports and religion, so they've launched a campaign to eliminate most practices and games on the Sabbath.
Members of the Cranston Clergy Association said that parents in the city of 76,000 should pressure their children's coaches to not schedule events on weekend days that their religions say should be days of rest and worship.The association, made up of more than 30 Roman Catholic priests, Protestant ministers and Orthodox rabbis, said hundreds of youthful athletes have faced tough choices because coaches scheduled games or practices on Sunday morning or on Saturday or Friday nights.
"For the child or family whose religious convictions prohibit them from participating in Sabbath activities, this is a painful and unnecessary dilemma," said association president Luke M. Pederson.
In addition to letters to church members, the clergy plan to address the issue in sermons during the next two weekends and to take out a newspaper ad.
"We believe that if enough parents tell the coaches their children won't be available at those times, then the coaches would have no choice but to find other times," the Rev. James Hegley of Meshanticut Park Baptist Church told The Providence Journal-Bulletin.
"We're not saying ban all sports on Sunday. If no one on a team objects to doing sports during the worship time, so be it," the Rev. Andrew George, pastor of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, told the newspaper.
Spokesmen for national and state religious organizations said Cranston's clergy were not the first to express such concerns, but their unified protest seems unique.