Unbelievable? Get it? Yes, you lovers of the North Woods minor-league sluggers, the Saints are devoting their promotional efforts Aug. 10 on behalf of atheists. It's atheists night at the ballpark.
Why, a fellow doesn't know where to begin except that one of the first things that occurred to me was that a ballpark full of atheists is fated to be quieter than most. I don't know what an atheist exclaims in disappointment, but maybe five or six of the most common profanities known to believers are out the window. An atheist would have no business taking you-know-who's name in vain. Neutral mackerel! Jiminy Crickets! I have an atheist friend who, true to his nonbelief, never swears.
According to the Minnesota Atheists website, not only will the club have atheist night, but to additionally accommodate atheistic sensibilities the club will wear jerseys that night that say "Aints." The team will be called the Mr. Paul Aints, on the supposition that if there ain't no God there ain't no saints. The S on all banners and Saints signs in the park will be crossed off.
The ceremonial first pitch? They've got it covered. David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, will exercise the old atheist wing and chuck it in there.
Now, I realize that the Saints have always endeared themselves to wacky promotions, but I needed to know who in God's name had such a severe brain meltdown that they came up with this one.
"We were approached by the Minnesota Atheists," said Derek Sharrer, the team's general manager. "They are sponsoring a national atheist convention in Minneapolis that weekend and wanted to know if they could have a night at the ballpark."
Not only did it not occur to anybody in the organization to maybe think twice but Sharrer said, "We were put in a position of realizing that we have worked with so many faith-based groups that it would be hypocritical of us to not work with a non-faith-based group.''
Sharrer said that the club has received a lot of feedback, both positive and negative, but that he believes that over 20 years the club has earned the trust of the fans and that when the team walks the line on a promotion, the fans know the club will do so respectfully.
"We've worked with religions," Sharrer said. "We felt that we also have to work with the other side."
I have never quite figured out what it is that an atheist intends to promote. To me, it's got to be the easiest thing in the world to be an atheist, like being left a billion dollars in a trust fund by a distant uncle. You've got nothing to worry about. While the rest of us might be nagged by doubt and various theological complications, the atheist goes sailing through life not even having to get up early on Sunday morning. The mystery of transubstantiation alone keeps me up at night.
I guess atheism would be a great way to be if you could get there and once there, there is essentially nothing to promote, which is why I am always puzzled when atheists race to the scenes of imagined affronts to their nothingness, like, say, a cross devoted to war dead in a village square.
What in the world are they worried about? The cross and its meaning are nothing.
I did get from Sharrer that it won't stop Sister Rosalind. I guess she still hangs out at Saints games and gives massages. She will probably still have her heart in it, too, because to believe means sometimes you've just got to shake your head and keep moving forward.