The sports-law world may be about to undergo a debate of biblical proportions.
Auburn, the number two team in the land and, Cameron Newton, its Heisman leading quarterback are, as most of you know, the subjects of investigations both within and outside the NCAA. Cameron Newton’s father, a pastor at Newton, Georgia’s The Holy Zion Center of Deliverance, is accused of possibly conspiring with a former Mississippi State football player to solicit a $180,000 payoff in exchange for delivering his son unto the Mississippi State football program. Pastor Newton, whose congregation supposedly was in desperate need of funds to refurbish its time-worn church, denies the charges as does a former football player. No one suggests either Auburn or Cam Newton knew anything about these alleged acts, even if they prove to be true.
Current NCAA Commandments hold such conduct to be mortal sins justifying excommunication or worse for everyone involved.
The question is an old one: should the sins of the father be held against the son. The bible itself is split on the issue. Exodus 20:5 speaks of “a jealous God, punishing the children for sin of the fathers . . .” Three books later, at Deuteronomy 24:16, we learn: “Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children for their fathers.”
What shall it be then? Even if the allegations prove true, and those who know Pastor Newton say he is a good man who would never participate in such unholy activities, do we punish the gifted son, if he was indeed an innocent, for the acts of the wayward dad? I think not. We should listen to the Prophet Ezekiel at 18:20: “The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity.”