For half a century or more, journalists seeking insights on religion news in America have given a consistent answer to the question, "Who you gonna call?"
The proper response, of course, is "Martin E. Marty."
So it's no surprise that the 88-year-old historian -- author of 60-plus books -- has weighed in on the media storm surrounding Baylor University's Christian identity, big-time college football and the painful challenges facing educators wrestling with sexual abuse, alcohol and the law.
The key, according to Marty, is that Baylor is involved in a clash between two religions -- Christianity and football.
"But isn't football just football, a branch of athletics, classifiable as entertainment and capitalist enterprise?", he asked, in a "Sightings" essay for the Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
Marty's answer: "No." Anyone with a good world-religions textbook or encyclopedia will recognize the characteristics that define "religious" activities, he added.
Is this activity an "ultimate concern" for those involved? Put a checkmark there.
Does football provide "ceremonial reinforcement," adding a kind of "metaphysical depth" to life? Check and check. Are deep emotions involved in these rites, providing a crucial sense of "communalism" among the faithful? Once again, add two checkmarks.
Now what about football, especially in Texas?