Ron Brown Stands by Convictions in Light of Media Storm Over Homosexuality Remarks
University of Nebraska's assistant football coach, Ron Brown, a committed evangelical Christian, has been under public scrutiny and is facing calls for his dismissal after he expressed his beliefs on homosexuality during an Omaha City Council meeting in March.
The late March meeting was held by seven board members to discuss a proposed anti-discrimination ordinance that protects homosexual and transgender students attending the university – an ordinance which Brown argued against.
In his three-minute address to the council, Brown questioned the "discernment" of the board members, insisting that trying to protect one group would mean another group has to lose protection.
The assistant football coach then shared that he believes the Bible says homosexuality is a sin. He added, however, "No matter which way you go, it's going to be an unprotection [sic] because it's man's opinion. So the real question I guess I have for you all is – what does God say?"
Brown added, "The question I have for you all is, like Pontius Pilate, what are you going to do with Jesus? Ultimately, if you don't have a relationship with him, and you don't really have a Bible-believing mentality, really, anything goes... At the end of the day it matters what God thinks most.
"For those of you on this council who have a relationship with Christ, and you know if you do, you will be held to great accountability for the decision you make."
"I admire your stamina, but it's your discernment, right now, that's under tremendous question," he concluded.
Many are seeing Brown's comments as controversial, as he is a football coach at a public university that receives 42 percent of its funding from the federal government and state appropriations, according to ESPN.
In addition, observers claim coach Brown's remarks violate the university's Office of Equity, Access and Diversity Programs non-discriminatory policy.
"[…] if he continues to confuse faith with a person's fundamental right not to be discriminated against, then [Chancellor Harvey] Perlman and [head football coach Tom] Osborne should fire him," suggests an ESPN writer. "Because while his religious beliefs are his own – and his opinions protected under the First Amendment – Brown remains a representative of a university whose core values stress the 'diversity of ideas and people.'"
Shortly after his speech, Barbara Baier of the Lincoln Board of Education reportedly wrote to administrators at University of Nebraska requesting that they fire Brown for his comments.
The university's leadership has tried to distanced itself from Brown's comments, with Chancellor Perlman telling The Associated Press that the coach's statements do not reflect the beliefs of the university.
Brown, 55, continues to stand by his Christian convictions in spite of criticism over his remarks.
"To be fired for my faith would be a greater honor than to be fired because we didn't win enough games," Brown told The Associated Press.
"I haven't lost any sleep over it. I realize at some point, we live in a politically correct enough culture where that very well could happen," he added.
Brown gained popularity in Fall 2011 for his how of faith on the field in the wake of the Penn State sex scandal, in which assistant football Coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of molesting at least eight underage boys from 1994-2009.
Nebraska played Penn State at the Penn State stadium only a week after Sandusky's case was made public, and Brown led a short prayer for healing and hope with players, coaches, and officials at midfield.
Tim Shatel, a journalist for the Omaha World-Herald, wrote that such public displays of conviction should not be unexpected from Brown, who, according to Shatel, has voiced his moral opinion several times in the past.
"I'm a Ron Brown fan. I don't agree with everything he says. But I respect the man and I cherish his convictions, in a day and age when morals blow with the wind and too many folks have the backbone of a jellyfish and the courage of an anonymous comment on the blog," Shatel wrote in his blog.
"Brown has been consistent in his convictions and beliefs for the 20-some years I've covered him, and gotten to know him," he added.
The assistant football coach told the AP that he is not "picking on" homosexuals, but rather remaining constant with his Christian faith and the belief that homosexuality is a sin.
"I have simply said that based on the Bible, homosexuality, the lifestyle of homosexuality, is a sin," he told the AP. "That has created a flame within itself. But I've decided I'm not going to be afraid of people calling me a bigot or a homophobic or narrow-minded out of a simple, gentle, compassionate expression of the truth of God's word. I'm not going to be bought off by that."
In a recent interview with the Gospel Coalition, Brown said he seeks to have a fulfilled faith in Jesus.
"Jesus said, 'Whoever desires to save his life shall lose it. If you deny me before me then I will deny you before my Father.' My greatest burden is not losing my job or what people might say about me. My greatest burden is faithfulness. I want to be faithful. I want to see the body of Christ be faithful. I want to see unbelievers come to Christ," he told the Gospel Coalition.
According to the AP, a Lincoln city councilman has said he plans to propose a similar anti-discrimination ordinance next week. Brown said that he is "praying about" speaking again at the next public hearing regarding the ordinance.