[Here's a hilarious piece from the early days of Disinfo.com. For more, make sure to check out our archives. Also, if you like Marty Beckerman's early writings, please check out his latest book, DUMBOCRACY: Adventures with the Loony Left, the Rabid Right, and Other American Idiots.]
You Just Can’t Lose when Jesus is on Your Cheerleading Squad
Marty Beckerman is an 18-year-old humor and opinion columnist living in tropical Anchorage, Alaska. His award-winning writing has appeared most frequently in The Anchorage Daily News, though occasionally manages to pop up in finer national publications.
It should be noted that Beckerman was forever banished from The Anchorage Daily News on July 25, 2000, after asking a cheerleader how it feels to be a urine stain on the toilet seat of America.
As it turns out, neither the cheerleader nor Beckerman’s editor found that interview question particularly amusing.
Beckerman’s first book, Death to All Cheerleaders: One Adolescent Journalist’s Cheerful Diatribe Against Teenage Plasticity was published September 2000 on Infected Press.
When you hear the word “cheerleaders,” you don’t immediately think “pious servants of Our Lord in Heaven Jesus Christ who Died on The Cross for Our Heinous Sins and Blah Blah Blah.” To be honest, if you’re anything like me, you think something more along the lines of “Oh, that seeming race of loose bimbos with the brain capacity of squirrel feces. I hate them!!”
But at least one organization is attempting to alter our opinion on this disputatious issue. They are the Christian Cheerleaders of America, a non-profit group based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. However, the Christian Cheerleaders aren’t limited to the Southern “Bible Belt.” No, the CCA is active in over 33 states, which – as you may have noticed – is absolutely horrifying.
Many other such facts can be ascertained from the Christian Cheerleaders of America press release, which spends quite a bit of space explaining just what the CCA stands for. A few brief excerpts:
“To teach ‘state of the art’ cheerleading techniques, material and methods while maintaining Christian standards. Being ‘contemporary without compromise.’”
“To recognize cheerleaders as the athletes they are, and the coaches who train them as such”
“Christian cheerleaders are skilled athletes and should never take a back seat to anyone else in their excellence, ‘for ye serve the Lord Christ.’”
If you’re not quite dumbfounded yet, don’t worry, because the Christian Cheerleaders of America press release only gets more rambling and incoherent. Additional passages:
“We believe in the verbal inspiration and authority of the Scriptures, the 100% inerrancy; that the Bible reveals God, the fall of man, the way of salvation and God’s plan and purpose for the ages”
“We believe that men are justified by faith alone and are made righteous before God only through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, through His shed blood as the propitiation for our sin. . . . Justification is an eternal relationship and can never be broken”
“As with everything in the Christian life, GOD’S WORD AND THE LEADERSHIP OF HIS HOLY SPIRIT are the guiding principles we live by. CHEERLEADING IS NO EXCEPTION.”
To further elaborate on these unintelligible rants, this reporter conducted a phone interview with Rose Clevenger, actual President of the Christian Cheerleaders of America. Rose spoke from her office in North Carolina, and I from my bedroom, wearing nothing but a colorful pair of boxer shorts. I have no idea whether or not Rose was also wearing a colorful pair of boxer shorts, but my guess would have to be an emphatic “Yes!”
MY INTERVIEW WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHRISTIAN CHEERLEADERS
MB: So what exactly is the Christian Cheerleaders of America?
Rose: We are a national organization. We travel all over the country, last year we traveled 85,000 miles, and we have camps for our target audience, which are basically Christian schools. We are a ministry in that we have morning devotions at camp, which are calm and help spread the gospel, and then we do cheerleading.
MB: And what sets girls in the CCA apart from cheerleaders who attend public school?
Rose: We dress more modestly, and are more careful with our choice of music. We’re conservative with music, and are careful not to play any heavy metal rock music.
MB: You dress more modestly?
MB: So the skirts aren’t quite as short.
MB: They’re like, knee-level instead of mid-thigh, or what?
MB: By the way, how does Jesus tie into cheerleading again?
Rose: We believe Jesus is a part of everything in our lives. We use cheerleading as a vehicle to help the cheerleaders grow in their relationship with the Lord.
MB: Right. So basically what you’re saying is that Jesus has nothing to do with cheerleading.
(Long, awkward silence.)
Rose: He has something to do with everything . . . I don’t think Jesus was a cheerleader.
MB: I’ll quote you on that.
Rose: We give kids something to cheer about: You can be a Christian!
MB: Are cheerleaders of other faiths allowed to be in the Christian Cheerleaders of America? For example, Jewish cheerleaders?
Rose: They can come.
MB: Atheist cheerleaders?
Rose: They can choose to come. I wouldn’t imagine an Atheist would choose to come to a Christian Cheerleaders of America Cheer Camp, but they would be welcome.
MB: Satan-worshiping cheerleaders?
Rose: They wouldn’t even ask. That’s not an issue.
MB: I wouldn’t be so sure about that.
Rose: (deadly serious) They would not be welcome.
MB: So in high schools across the country, there’s kind of this stereotype of the cheerleader as . . . as . . . uh, I don’t know how to put this correctly . . .
Rose: A promiscuous, popularity-crazed sex symbol.
MB: Right, a promiscuous, licentious sexual sex symbol. Do you feel the Christian Cheerleaders of America is combating this stereotype?
Rose: Yes, and of course that is a totally incorrect stereotype anyway.
MB: I don’t know. I mean, I’ve met some pretty sex symbol-like cheerleaders in my day.
Rose: That’s unfortunate.
MB: Would you ever, like, consider taking one of the girls’ pompoms and painting it green, and then setting it on fire so it would be like the Burning Bush or something?
Rose: No. We’re not extremists.
MB: But that would be hilarious, wouldn’t it?
Apparently, Rose thinks she is too good for my question.
MB: Okay, whatever. And you’re the biggest league of Christian cheerleaders, right?
Rose: There’s some other Christian organizations. I don’t know if it’s ever been measured.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF CHRISTIAN CHEERLEADERS
Turns out, Rose’s information is complete bullshit. After countless weeks of meticulous research, I discover the largest Christian cheerleading association is based out of Georgia, and named – rest assured this is the honest truth – The Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders. Immediately after learning this fascinating piece of information, I call up Cary Coleman, President of the Fellowship, introducing myself as a journalist doing an article on the positive influence of Christianity in cheerleading.
“So you’re the largest Christian cheerleading organization in the world?” I ask.
“Right. We have 6,000 kids up at our summer program,” Coleman says.
“Jesus!” I reply.
“We’re fairly small compared to other non-religious cheerleading organizations.”
“And just how the hell can you associate Jesus with cheerleading?”
“It’s no different than any other sport,” Coleman explains. “You get talent as a gift … and you learn to use your powers to represent Christ.”
“Could more cheerleaders use the morals only religion can bring?” I ask.
“Oh yeah. I think cheerleaders, whether they want to be or not, are role models at their school. When they take that position as a cheerleader, they’re popular and they’re leaders.”
“So obviously both cheerleading and religion have come under scrutiny and criticism over the years,” I say. “How would you respond to people who might themselves say ‘Death To All Cheerleaders And There Is No God?’”
“They would say what?” Coleman inquires.
“You heard me,” I inform. “They would say cheerleading is worthless, and then go preach glorious Atheism.”
“Anytime you get students involved in anything extracurricular, that’s meaningful. You get them off the streets. Cheerleading is a character-builder, and there’s a lot of positive things you can learn from athletics. As for faith, I think you have to walk the walk.”
It’s at this point in the conversation I realize I’m completely bored, and proceed to hang up the phone. Fuck walking.
MY VISIT WITH GRACE CHRISTIAN SCHOOL’S CHEERLEADING SQUAD
Then again, unbridled contemptuousness is best derived from observation, as opposed to – let’s say – common sense. In hopes of remaining unbiased and impartial, I decide to meet some actual Christian cheerleaders. Two days after my conversation with Coleman, I attend a pregame practice of the Grace Christian School cheerleaders. Grace Christian, as Anchorage readers may already know, is a private religious indoctrination establishment boasting nearly 500 obsequious drones. I mean, “students.” Whups, Freudian slip.
Anyway, before actually meeting the Grace Christian cheerleaders themselves, I speak with Mary Lou Ward, coach of the squad. What follows is a transcript of our conversation, held atop the observation deck of Grace Christian’s cheerleading practice room:
MB: How do you feel Grace’s cheerleaders are different than normal cheerleaders?
Mary Lou: We’re the same, really, but we have to watch the music. We’re a Christian school . . . so we don’t do a lot of “Hey baby” lyrics that wouldn’t really go along with our philosophy here. We do a lot without words.
MB: So there’s not much of a difference between normal cheerleading and Christian cheerleading.
Mary Lou: Not too much other than some of the movements when they’re out on the floor.
MB: Could you please be more specific?
Mary Lou: We don’t do a lot of the hip movements.
MB: The wiggling.
Mary Lou: Yeah, the wiggling hip movements.
MB: The bump and the grind.
Mary Lou: Yeah, there you go.
MB: How do you think cheerleading helps girls develop confidence and morals and whatever else cheerleading is supposed to help girls develop?
Mary Lou: The one thing I’ve noticed just this year is communication skills. They’re getting their point across to the other seven or eight team members. And showing up, being on time. It’s not a sport where the coach can just bench the one that’s not pulling their weight. Once you’re on a cheerleading squad, you’ve got to be there and do your part.
MB: Does the Christianity aspect tie into the cheerleading at all?
Mary Lou: There are good kids everywhere, and I’m not saying that at Christian school the kids are any better. But I personally can see how their faith in Jesus Christ really helps them temper their bad moods, get along with each other, be peacemakers.
MB: Are there any cheers for the religion itself? Like, I don’t know, “Stop Abortion Now, Yaaay!”
Mary Lou: Oh no.
MB: Now, cheerleaders kind of have a bad reputation in high school.
Mary Lou: They are so aware of the cheerleading stereotype, like “How does my hair look?”, and looks and appearance.
MB: And “Where’s the mattress?”
Mary Lou: Yeah, and the morals. They hate that. We have tried to be more of an athletic team. We want it to be more of a sport. … They’re a bunch of really good, moral girls.
MY CHAT WITH THE BUNCH OF REALLY GOOD, MORAL GIRLSIt’s at this point Mary Lou leads me from the upper-observation deck to the practice room itself, where I see five girls jumping up and down in black gym clothes, shouting various pathetic cries for attention. I mean, “cheers.” Their names are Lindsey (squad captain), Kelli, Jenny, Lindsey and Taylor. Mary Lou introduces the girls, and they seem enthralled that a real newspaper reporter has come to do a big story on little ol’ them.
“So how are you blowing the cheerleading stereotype out of the water?” I ask, with added emphasis on “blowing.”
“We don’t do it just to show off,” Kelli says.
“I think cheerleading is just, like, a biblical thing,” Lindsey predicates, “because it’s, like, encourage your brother, and all that kind of stuff. Cheering them on, so they can do their best. You’re supposed to support your brothers and sisters and Christ.”
“You’re on Jesus’ team,” I jest.
“Yeah,” she replies.
“So how do you feel about the stereotype of cheerleaders being a giant race of bimbos?”
“A lot of times you are in those short skirts and the little briefs and stuff, and you’re out there kicking. And if that’s what your focus is, yeah, you can get attention from that. It all depends what your motives are. And I think that kind of reflects when you’re out there cheering, and the crowd, I don’t think, I don’t know, you’re just not doing your job when you do that.”
“So your skirts aren’t longer than the normal schools’, are they?” I ask.
“Because I spoke with a woman at the Christian Cheerleaders of America who said their cheerleaders wear the skirts down to their knees,” I say.
“I know some schools do that,” Kelli replies. “But I think that’s almost, kind of, I don’t know . . .”
“Yeah, that’s like separating us. Like, because yeah, I mean, there’s nothing wrong, I mean, with that. You know, I mean, you can go to a swim meet and all that kind of stuff, and they’re in bathing suits, and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
“We don’t do the moves that are suggestive,” Mary Lou adds.
“Yeah, we don’t do those,” Kelli reiterates.
“Our uniforms are modest,” Mary Lou continues. “We ordered ours to be made one inch longer than what’s in the typical catalog. But they’re still plenty short.”
“So why do you cheer?” I ask Taylor.
“It’s fun when everyone is yelling along with you,” she says. “And the, like, the teams are just like (strange vocal sound effect, sounds like “Woooooouuuuheeeee”). It’s just really cool. And they like it. That’s why they come.”
“Would you still cheer if you didn’t go to Grace Christian, or is the Jesus aspect what attracts you to it?” I ask Lindsey.
“It depends on the other girls’, like, attitude towards it,” she explains.
“So if they were Atheists and Agnostics and Wicans and Satanists and whatever, you wouldn’t go for that?”
“If they were, like, forcing that on me, I sure wouldn’t.”
(Long moment of silence.)
“Are you a Christian?” Mary Lou asks me.
“No,” I say. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” she replies, with a warm smile. “Don’t feel bad about it.”
AND BEFORE YOU TELL ME I’M GOING TO HELL . . .
Just remember Hell exists only in the empty hearts of those who wish pain and suffering upon their fellow man. Plus, there can be no Hell if there is no God, which – perhaps you’ve noticed this at one point or another – is a very good possibility. But in all fairness to my theist readers, humanity will never know whether or not a higher power really is up there, so holding an opinion on the issue is worthless in the first place.
And as for cheerleading, anyone who so listlessly participates in that waste of human capacity is clearly demonstrating deep-rooted signs of severe mental illness.
“For ye serve the Lord Christ,” my white hairy ass.
That’s it, I’m done.