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Jack Caine: Detroit’s guide to religion in Alabama

Football is a religion in Alabama. And if anyone commits an act of sacrilege against the Vicar of Tuscaloosa, the consequences are sharp and immediate.

Don’t believe me? Ask Tim James. In his second to the last gubernatorial run, within a few days of the 2010 GOP Primary he went on talk radio to bolster his chances of election. Someone asked him a question about cutting State government. James responded that as an Auburn fan, he maybe should consider eliminating Nick Saban from the State’s payroll. Perhaps someone thought that was funny, but the voters did not.

James would manage a 3rd place finish to Robert Bentley’s second place primary victory. The margin of error between James and Bentley was small enough that his comments about Coach Saban were the difference between victory and defeat. Bentley would go on to become Governor Bentley. Had Tim James not involved Coach Saban, perhaps he might have followed his father into Alabama’s Governor’s Mansion?

The worshippers at the Bryant Denny Cathedral don’t want their Saint Nick to be used for anything other than winning national championships. Use him and abuse him and whatever your campaign or cause will be excommunicated. There is no redemption for defaming Alabama’s Football Cardinal.

Still don’t believe me? Ask Sean Fain and the UAW. They thought using Coach Saban to promote a union might be the ticket to loosing Alabama’s grip on rights to work haven. In trying to be aggressive, brother Sean and his UAW monks crossed the line when they quoted the Coach out of context. They also tried to use the Auburn and Alabama logos in their campaign, too. None of this went over well for the lurking union.

The colleges sent cease and desist letters. That would be easily ignored. A mere foot fault on the road to employee nirvana. However using the name, image and likeness of Coach Saban? Without permission, much less compensation: that was the last straw. Saint Nick is venerated on Saturdays in the fall, and he is not to be used as a pawn to advocate for a cause that Governor Ivey opposed. Hail Marys? That’s for the 4th quarter when the grave digger fails.

The UAW found out the hard way that people in Alabama will be nice and polite to you. They’ll even act interested in listening to a funny accent. Bottom line, the Southern Hospitality comes to a screeching halt when you commit a sacrilege against the state religion by quoting the Saint out of context and proof texting his words to support a cause that is about as far removed from the Alabama Catechism as electric cars are to diesel trucks.

All are welcome in Alabama. Come on down and we’ll get you a job, sell you an affordable home and you won’t be shocked by our taxes. Our Governor won’t embarrass you and our people will be right neighborly. But don’t come here and commit a cardinal sin against Saint Nick. If you do, you’ll wish that excommunication was all the backlash that would happen.

Jack Caine is an unchurched Christian and resides in Pelham, Alabama with his Episcopalian wife. He has a big screen TV with a digital video recorder and watches college football ad nauseam.

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