God is a Methodist
Posted on Apr 15th, 2013 at 8:50 AM
In the film “42,” Branch Rickey makes it clear he and Jackie Robins are both Methodists.
“He’s a Methodist,” says Rickey. “I’m a Methodist. God’s a Methodist.”
In the movie about breaking the color barrier in baseball, Rickey is played by Harrison Ford and Robinson is played by Chadwick Boseman.
The film makes it clear that much of Rickey’s motivation to create opportunities for African American players is derived from his Methodist heritage.
When Robinson asks Rickey if he wants a man who will fight back, Rickey opens up The Life of Christ, a 1920 book by Giovanni Papini. He reads Jesus word’s, “But whoever shall smite thee on the cheek, turn to him the other also.”
“I want a man with the courage not to fight back,” said Rickey.
When the owner of the Philadelphia Phillies threatens to keep his team off the field if Rickey plays Robinson, Rickey tells him that, when he dies and faces judgment before God, saying you kept your team off the field because you didn’t want to play against a black man was not going to be “sufficient.”
Leader of Methodist Men
What the film does not tell us is that in 1928, Rickey served as vice-president of Methodist Men, while serving as vice-president of the St. Louis Cardinals National League Baseball team, Rickey served on the 30-member Board of the Men’s Work Commission. Edgar T. Welch, president of the Welch Grape Juice Company, was president.
Luren Dickenson, lieutenant governor of Michigan and president of the General Conference Laymen’s Association, served as second vice president. Dickenson went on to serve as governor from 1939-40.
In a 1997 biography of Robinson, Arnold Rampersad tells how the teenager was rescued from the streets by the Rev. Karl Downs, minister of Scott Methodist Church in Pasadena.
Rampersad reports Downs became the channel through which religious faith “finally flowed into Jack's consciousness and was finally accepted there, if on revised terms, as he himself reached manhood,“Faith in God then began to register in him as both a mysterious force, beyond his comprehension, and a pragmatic way to negotiate the world,” said Rampersad.
In a Wall Street Journal article, Chris Lamb cites a 1950 interview in which Jackie mentioned his kneeling down every night to pray before going to bed.
“It’s the best way to get closer to God,” Robinson said, and then the second baseman added, “and a hard-hit ground ball.”