I’m sure you all heard about the FFRF, or the Freedom From Religion Foundation, calling out Clemson football for Christian influence. The FFRF argued the Clemson football team was too religious and was pressuring non-Christians into religious activities — this article isn’t about that.

I truly don’t mind if the football team participates in religious events. I’m happy a player can be baptized with his friends around him — so as long as those who opt out aren’t ostracized or judged. Multiple former and current players have attested to the fact that they’ve always felt comfortable on the team, so I have no evidence to argue against it. I believe that the FFRF jumped on a supposed opportunity that turned out to be a bust. They are at fault.

That isn’t the problem. The problem isn’t an agency attacking our football team for supposed religious bias, nor is the problem the football program itself. The problem is the misguided, embarrassing response from many Clemson students and alumni.

Soon after the controversy began, the hashtag #ClemsonStrong appeared on Twitter. Most of the first tweets under this hashtag went as so: “Christian by choice, not by force.” Students were voicing the idea that Clemson doesn’t force their personal beliefs on them. That made sense.

However, after several days, the response became more “enthusiastic.” One Facebook user asked, “You don’t like that Clemson football broadcasts their love for Jesus? Don’t go to Clemson . . . it’s as simple as that.” A tweet said, “Stand with Dabo and stand FOR Jesus Christ.” Finally, someone sent an incredibly respectful message to the FFRF: “There are no real atheists there are just those who live with the fear of their sin coming to the light.”

The response morphed from defending the football program itself to defending the religious aspects of the football program and insulting atheists. What is extremely strange about this response is it actually proves half of FFRF’s point. I don’t see Clemson football itself heavily affected by religion, but it’s clear that almost all Clemson fans, or at least the ones who use Twitter, connect their religion to football. Obviously Clemson has a massive religious presence, and the FFRF believed this religious presence was leaking into the football program. Technically, they are correct. The football team is influenced by religion, and the Twitter response was defending this religious connection, not denying that there was one.

The way that some people are commenting on social media puts Clemson, especially the Clemson faith community, in a bad light. A day before writing this article, I saw what I consider to be, truly and utterly, the most heinous social media post of this entire event:

“I dont understand why it matters if WE want to have God in OUR football. It’s the south, we love Jesus and he is present in everything we do. If you dont like it then leave, we don’t need

you anyways.”

I could pause to explain all the things wrong with this status, but it would be a waste of words. All I can say is that according to this post, I’ll be losing many Jewish, Atheist and Muslim friends after they leave Clemson because they don’t love Jesus enough. But it’s fine, because I really didn’t need them anyway.

This social media response has lessened my respect for Clemson. However, I want to stress that not all Clemson students and alumni are at fault. Many people responded in perfectly normal ways to the issue, even under the #ClemsonStrong hashtag. Unfortunately, the responses people notice are the ones that are ignorant or hateful or proud. The problem is that Christian members of Clemson were attempting to defend their religion in an extremely un-Christian manner. I know that the faith community at Clemson is better than this. Clemson has a very powerful and dedicated religious community that does many good things for charity and students. Yet, for all of the students’ passion and dedication to their faith, why is it I feel farther away from God after witnessing this?