OFF THE POST: The Separation of Church and Soccer

Rosenborg has won the last 12 Norwegian championships. Valerenga hasn't won a title since 1984 but is in the hunt this season. After it beat Rosenborg, 4-1, Reverend Einar Gelius told his parish, ''It's going well for Valerenga for the moment and it is a positive lift for many people and that is what we want to thank God for.''

Norway's Minister of Culture and Church, Valgerd Svarstad Haugland, responded with: ''I do not wish to comment on what people pray for in private, but I think this is a little too much of a joke when praying [about soccer] in church.''

Theology professor Jacob Jervell chimed in with: ''I'm an avid soccer fan myself, and I say that in heaven Viking wins all games, but God is not a member of Viking, and it would never occur to me to pray for victory for my favorite team. This is not the church's role and a practice like that is completely worthless.''

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