Ron Brown Would Rather You Weren’t Gay in His Locker Room, Thanks

In an extremely thorough and thoughtful blog entry at the Huffington Post (seriously, I encourage you to go read the whole thing), Outsports.com co-founder Cyd Zeigler is calling for Ron Brown, assistant football coach at the University of Nebraska, to be fired.

Ron Brown speaks during a morning session of FreedMen Conquest. (FRANCIS GARDLER / Lincoln Journal Star)

Ron Brown speaks during a morning session of FreedMen Conquest. (FRANCIS GARDLER / Lincoln Journal Star)

Brown is a Christian, and one who goes well out of his way to publicize his beliefs — particularly the belief that LGBT people are icky and defective. He even went so far as to speak at an Omaha City Council meeting earlier this month, opposing a law that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Now, if that’s all Brown did, we would have no more grounds to get him fired than the Illinois Family Institute did when it went after Hemant. After all, the University of Nebraska’s nondiscrimination policy cuts both ways, which Zeigler freely acknowledges.

But Zeigler lays out a fairly damning case against Brown, contending on the basis of Brown’s own public statements that the coach’s bigoted attitudes aren’t limited to his off-hours. Brown uses his position at the University of Nebraska (a public university, in case that wasn’t clear) to advance his views. Promotional videos for his explicitly Christian proselytizing organization, FreedMen Nebraska, use Cornhusker imagery with abandon or are outright filmed in Memorial Stadium.

In fact, according to Cindy Lange-Kubick of the Lincoln Journal Star, when Brown spoke at that Omaha City Council meeting, he gave the stadium’s address as his own.

Even more telling is the interview Zeigler cites with Sharing the Victory, in which Brown likens homosexuality to thievery, lying, and alcoholism. Then — the real kicker — he says that Christians in the locker room have an obligation to steer their teammates away from such behavior:

“When you love God, it means you must love your neighbor as well. You don’t deny the truth, but in love and sensitivity you put your arms around that person struggling with homosexuality and you help walk him or her to the truth of Jesus Christ, just as you would any other player involved in any other sin.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really getting the vibe from this guy that he leaves his bigotry at the door.

You can hear Brown respond to Zeigler’s article on a local radio station here (mp3). Spoiler alert: most of the time he doesn’t get it. The rest of the time, he just doesn’t care that you don’t think his Bible is a good enough reason to discriminate against people. Brown explicitly denies the need to draw a line between his personal beliefs and his position at the University. There’s also a healthy dose of Christian persecution complex and some bonus transphobia.

The University of Nebraska has distanced itself from Brown’s comments at the Omaha City Council meeting but affirmed “the right of its faculty and students to participate in public dialogue and to express their personal views.”

But that’s not what Brown is doing. Brown is using the University as a pedestal from which to wave the banner of prejudice. He’s creating a hostile environment in the locker rooms of a taxpayer-funded institution with his religious dogma.

Athlete Ally has a Change.org petition asking the University of Nebraska to fire Brown. If this kind of thing pisses you off, be sure to also check out Athlete Ally and the new You Can Play Project, both of which promote acceptance of LGBT athletes at every level of every sport.

Unlike Ron Brown.

***Update***: Here’s video of Brown addressing pre-game prayers that he led. FFRF has already protested his public display of faith at a public school’s event.

About Megan Wells

Megan Wells is an IT tech and sports blogger in Chicago.

  • http://andythenerd.tumblr.com Andy The Nerd

    Funny, cuz I’d rather Don Brown not be straight in my locker room.

  • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

    He’s the epitome of the hypocritical Christian complaining about religious discrimination while he makes public university students kneel before his Jesus-laden prayers and sermonizing. And he’s popular here because so many people thing he’s being HEROIC for God.

    • http://madhominem.wordpress.com/ Mad Hominem

      Exactly. Fellow Nebraskan here, although I go to UNO (in Omaha, the city with the anti-discrimination proposal Brown came to speak against — it passed, by the way!).  He’s also been in the local news because the ACLU’s been warning schools to stop bringing people like him to talk anti-drug-but-pro-Jesus to the kids.

      Bible belt we’re certainly not, at least not so much in east Nebraska; the worst I could say of Lincoln and Omaha, the two largest cities, is that we’re “better than that” but don’t always live up to it. Nebraskans do generally have a religious devotion to the UNL football program, though, which I figure is how Ron Brown’s gotten away with it for so long.

  • Anonymous

    “…
    you put your arms around that person struggling with homosexuality…”
    Sounds pretty gay to me.  I’m going to pray for him.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    he says that Christians in the locker room have an obligation to steer their teammates away from such behavior

    Something Reason Rally brought out is the usual chorus of “Don’t be a dick” and

    [don't be] obnoxious, in-your-face fucktards who try to shove their beliefs down people’s throats

    Problem with the more extreme religious is that if you really think someone’s behavior is going to end them up in hell, then you have a moral obligation to ‘help’ them.

    As Penn Gillette says, if you really think someone is going to hell, then you must try to save them.

    I’m not sure how to remain respectful when someone is trying to save me from Hell.

    • Norm

      Well clearly you have some moral issues of your own Rich. I love how Atheists claim to be just as moral as I am, but no worries, if I don’t believe them they’ll just cuss me out. 

      Wow.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        If you’re referring to my ‘fucktard’ quote, that’s actually referring to atheists, or more precisely another atheist’s description of how some atheists act.  Well, the ‘dick’  was added on by me in reference to Phil Plait’s Don’t be a Dick speech.

        I’m certainly willing to cuss out theists (and atheists) but I didn’t intend to actually cuss anyone out on this particular occasion.  The closest I came was thinking internally that if you come to my door, and ignore my “no soliciting” sign, and try to save me from hell, I’d like to tell you to fuck off.  In actual practice I point to the sign and then close the door.  The one who rang the doorbell again to tell me that my sign didn’t apply to him; he got a “Fuck Off!”

        • Norm

          Oh my goodness. I’m sorry Rich. I admit I just assumed the worst. I didn’t know the reference though. My apologies for making a bad assumption.

          I still don’t know why curse words are in anyone’s vocabulary though.

        • Norm

          Oh my goodness. I’m sorry Rich. I admit I just assumed the worst. I didn’t know the reference though. My apologies for making a bad assumption.

          I still don’t know why curse words are in anyone’s vocabulary though.

  • T-Rex

    Why am I not surprised that a football coach in Nebraska acts this way? Maybe we should just report on the non-theistic anomolies that occur in the Bible belt. That would cut down on the amount of news stories that deal with constitutional violations by theocrats by about 95%.

    • banana slug

      As an ex-nebraskan (nebraskite?), it is definitely NOT the bible belt.  Other than the players from both teams getting together at the 50 after a game to pray, I can’t think of anything remotely religious ever associated with the program before.

    • Vince Winkler

      As someone born and raised in Nebraska, and currently attending UNL, I disagree with your statement. This is the Bible Belt like Wisconsin is part of New England.
      Also, what theocrats in Nebraska are you referring to? The chancellor of UNL who denounced his comments? The other athletic coaches (head coaches, not Running Backs coach) like John Cook and previously Doc Sadler who are in favor of gay rights?

      Get off your soapbox if you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re making the rest of us look bad, and you’re throwing mud at people who are on your side.

  • Tduey1

    Brown is a Christian, I don’t agree with his views on homosexuality, but he has the right to express them. It is head football coach Bo Pelini’s responsibility to ensure the functionality of his locker room . If Ron Brown was making players feel uncomfortable , Pelini would fire him. If you want people to tolerate your beliefs you must tolerate theirs. That’s the way freedom of speech works, it’s as simple as that.

    • Anonymous

      No, it’s not as simple as that. He’s doing it on the job and using his position at non-job events, so freedom of speech doesn’t necessarily apply in this situation. If he abuses his position, and I believe he does, his First Amendment rights do not protect that.

      “If Ron Brown was making players feel uncomfortable , Pelini would fire him.”

      How would we know that? He’s in a position of power. So I guess you want to burden his victims with speaking out against him. Just look what happens to people that sue for their rights involving religion when they aren’t granted anonymity.

  • Don

    who could ask for a better spokesman and role model!


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