Wanderlei Silva is a religious man, and he currently does his worshiping at the Church at South Las Vegas. They’re so down with what he does that they decided to sponsor him and get their church on his fight shorts. One problem though. From his pastor’s twitter:
That’s right, you can count churches as another group the UFC doesn’t allow on fight shorts. Now of course if Pastor Benny kept closer track of MMA news then he’d know Condom Depot was out as well. But still, he raises an interesting question: is this discrimination?
Now you all probably figured out we’re godless heathens here at Fightlinker. Baby Jesus isn’t much more than a good punchline for me, and I co-host one of the biggest (and probably most offensive) atheism podcasts on the net. But still, my general opinion on sponsorships is that unless the sponsor is involved in some really fucked up shit like promoting fascism then it’s never good to bar them and deny a fighter some extra money. So if a church wants to sponsor a fighter, why not let them?
On the other hand, I certainly understand why the UFC blocked the Church of South Las Vegas. They’re just a little bit … unorthodox. Here’s an article on them from Penthouse:
The church service is Vegas-style. Purple lights spin in retro seventies circles. Videos. A rock band on the pulpit. Everyone’s on their feet and clapping. Starr*—a 19-year-old ex-prostitute with her hands in the air—sings her heart out with the choir. It’s a Saturday night and the spiritual joint is packed. Things are going down. It’s plain rowdy. Maybe in Sin City there are so many wrong paths to take that more souls need to be saved.
“Are you scared yet?” Annie Lobert whispers.
“No. Why?” I ask.
“You’re sitting in church with a row of hookers,” she jokes.
Some have arrived late. (“Sex workers are independent and are used to keeping their own schedules.”) Others don’t show up at all because they’re working the street. Leaning over, Annie fills me in on Houston—the gorgeous blonde sitting next to me. “We used to work together,” she says. “Our pimps were friends.” A red-haired woman dressed in black passes by and says a warm hello. Annie whispers, “She used to be a sex worker, too. Now she has a good job with a hotel.”
For the past three years Hookers for Jesus has been a part of the Church at South Las Vegas. Annie tried to launch her ex-prostitute ministry at several other churches, but they weren’t the right fit—in fact, some were downright shocked.
“This church really embraced the ministry,” Annie declares as the congregation is engaged in song. “Pastor Benny and his wife, Wendy, have a huge heart for prostitutes.”
I actually really dig that, but it’s not like we can say this isn’t slightly controversial:
And that got me thinking: if you let one religion promote itself in the UFC, then you have to let ALL religions promote in the UFC. If you don’t, THEN it’s discrimination like Pastor Benny calls it in his tweet. And that opens up a whole can of worms. Because for every church that’s pro-hooker, there’s gonna be a dozen that are anti-gay, anti-abortion, or anti-immigration. These religions could hold a thousand other potentially controversial and divisive beliefs that the UFC doesn’t wanna touch with a ten foot pole. And of course you wouldn’t just get big churches. You’d end up getting the total whackjob ones and cults too, plus I’m sure those jerkface atheists would also want in on the action as well.
All in all, letting one church in would be like opening a proverbial Pandora’s Box of craziness. I think it’d be kind of fun, but I’m a bit of an MMA anarchist like that. I’m pretty sure everyone else would rather not have to deal with the headache.
(thanks to jackal Ben for the heads up!)