By David Ayliffe
Children at a remote Victorian Christian School have been forbidden to watch, play or discuss football by the conservative Principal of the school, Phil Upright, who calls the game “Satanic”.
Pastor Phil Upright, who leads the “Discriminate a right and a Privilege Independent Thinking Political Party” also heads Liberty Christian Church and is Principal of the Church’s Christian School in the small Wimmera town of Genesis.
Upright not only bans the sport but has pioneered a revolutionary re-education program called “On the Mark” to help students repent of “the aberration of football”. The course trains students to “resist the devil” through fasting and prayer, repetition of Bible verses whenever football urges arise, and a prohibition on ice cream for offenders.
Locals report that the secret weapon in the course is a huge black leather King James Bible weighing as much as three six packs of lemon squash – the beverage of choice of the church – that participants are required to carry with them all day and use as their pillow to sleep at night.
The On-the-Mark Bible, weighing in at about 6kg, is reportedly so heavy that students struggle to hold it in their arms with two hands clutched around it. Young teenagers have been seen struggling through the main street holding the Bible, only able to manage a few steps at a time before they have to stop and rest. Some have even been seen falling down under the weight.
Yet Pastor Upright claims “this has been a Godsend, the huge Bibles help our children expend energy they may have otherwise used in the addictive pursuit of Football. On the Mark is helping us curb a problem in our community and stop it reach epidemic proportions as is seen throughout the nation. It’s incredible to think that in Victoria we now have a public holiday for Football – you’ll never see that for Christianity, except for Christmas and Easter.”
Upright claims that On the Mark has been 95% successful with suffering students now able to resist the lure of the ball.
“God’s purpose for leather is Bibles, not football!”
A large black and white sign “God’s purpose for leather is Bibles not football” adorns the entrance to Liberty Christian Centre welcoming visitors to 9 to 9 Sunday services at Liberty Christian Church where Pastor Phil amazes his congregation with preaching through 12 hour worship services that draws football references from every verse of the Bible. A quiz during the service has members producing obscure verses from the Old and New Testaments to which Pastor Phil reveals the anti-football purpose in the verses. The member who proposes the most obscure Bible verse on the day receives a Six Pack of Lemon Squash from Pastor Phil.
Elders Jack and Jill Godwin, long term members of the church and repeat recipients of the Six Pack award preferred to remain anonymous when they spoke to the writer. Singing the praises of the church and Pastor Phil’s grand football fight beamed each week on the big screen, Jack Godwin held back tears as he said “I would have never known that Jesus was thinking of football in the shortest verse in the Bible, John Chapter 11 verse 35 where it says “Jesus Wept”!, “Pastor Phil has opened my eyes to it. God has given Pastor Phil an incredible prophetic gift to see what others can’t see, and worse, will never see.”
“Would you like a pikelet,” his wife Jill declared to the author as she continued on from her husband “On those two words alone, “Jesus Wept”, Pastor Phil covered the history of AFL going back to when it was founded in 1858. He preached on that for 7 weeks producing 35 hours of teaching material that is sold through his Amazon online shop and is being used around the world … in some places.”
Upright is not applauded by all in Genesis. President of the local Country Women’s Association and widow of a former Shire President, Ethel Campfort. Ethel – 86 years old – and by her own confession a lifelong AFL “tragic” Collingwood supporter, has organised protests outside Upright’s church. The protests involved fellow CWA members regularly holding cake sales outside the church with large signs around their table: “FOOTBALL FOR ALL!”, “FREE THE CHILDREN!”, “BAN THE BIG BLACK”, and “MOTHERS FOR FOOTY”.
“It’s dreadful seeing healthy young children and strapping teenagers walking down the Main Street muttering Bible verses under their breath and buckling under the load of Bibles so big they should be on wheels,” says Ethel Campfort.
“Some of these kids can barely walk carrying those Bibles. It’s a crime and should be banned. Upright should be laid low in prison.”
Rumours that Upright has argued in Liberty Church that too much Football would lead to blindness have not been confirmed.