January 22, 2015

What’s God got to do with football devotion? Plenty

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Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) celebrates following the overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Packers 28-22 in overtime. Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports, courtesy of Reuters
*Note: This photo may ONLY be used with RNS-SPORTS-RELIGION, which is to be published on January 22, 2015.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) celebrates following the overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Packers 28-22 in overtime. Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports, courtesy of Reuters *Note: This photo may ONLY be used with RNS-SPORTS-RELIGION, which is to be published on January 22, 2015.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) celebrates following the overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Packers 28-22 in overtime. Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports, courtesy of Reuters *Note: This photo may ONLY be used with RNS-SPORTS-RELIGION, which is to be published on January 22, 2015.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) bows his head in prayer after the overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks defeated the Packers 28-22 in overtime. Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports, courtesy of Reuters
*Note: This photo may ONLY be used with RNS-SPORTS-RELIGION, which is to be published on January 22, 2015.

(RNS) Did God lift Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s overtime pass into the end zone on Sunday, rewarding the prayerful Christian player with a championship victory and a trip to the Super Bowl?

Millions of Americans may think so.

“One in four Americans believe there will be a 12th man on the field, and that the hand of God will be seen before the final whistle blows in the Super Bowl,” said Robert Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute.

And 53 percent agree God “rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success,” according to a new PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey released Thursday (Jan. 22).

Indeed, not only did majorities of all but one major religious group put faith in God’s rewarding the faithful, so did 27 percent of the those who claim no religion, the “nones.”

The survey of 1,012 U.S. adults, conducted by PRRI in partnership with Religion News Service, measures how people interweave team spirit and spirituality — and moral wrath, too. Nearly one in three Americans would slap a lifetime ban on players convicted of domestic violence, even for someone on their favorite team.

VIEW GRAPHIC: RELIGION & SPORTS: HOW THE PUBLIC CALLS THE MORAL SHOTS

Most Americans (64 percent) have a favorite team, with football leading the way as the preferred sport for 40 percent, no matter what their professed faith.

Ray Rice, shown here during 2009 Baltimore Ravens training camp, admitted punching his fiance in a hotel elevator.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA

Ray Rice, shown here during 2009 Baltimore Ravens training camp, admitted punching his fiancee in a hotel elevator.

However, NFL love is not blind. It stops at the Ray Rice elevator door — the one the Baltimore Ravens player dragged his fiancee through after knocking her unconscious last February. The survey was conducted Jan. 14-18, after months of intense media coverage of Rice and the NFL’s response to domestic violence. Rice was initially suspended by the Ravens, then by the NFL, but ultimately reinstated on appeal and is now eligible to sign with another team.

“I was surprised at how seriously Americans are taking domestic violence in sports. Nearly one in three (29 percent) would support a lifetime ban for a player convicted of domestic violence,” said Jones. “That’s a heavy penalty.”

Most (59 percent) would allow such a player to return after a temporary suspension.

But few would make that easy. Nearly two in three Americans (64 percent) would oppose a professional sports team’s hiring a player “who has been convicted of domestic violence but is not in current legal trouble.”

University of Missouri football player Michael Sam, who went public about being gay last spring, celebrates during a game in November 2013 against Texas A&M at Faurot Field Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo. RNS photo by Shane Epping

University of Missouri football player Michael Sam, who went public about being gay last spring, celebrates during a game in November 2013 against Texas A&M at Faurot Field Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo. RNS photo by Shane Epping

Contrast that with a hiring choice once thought to be too hot to touch: signing an openly gay or lesbian player.

University of Missouri star Michael Sam became front-page news for his openly gay status, which became public just months before the NFL draft last year. He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams and had a tryout with the Dallas Cowboys but did not make either team.

Survey respondents greeted the issue with a shrug: 73 percent say they would favor a team’s drafting a gay or lesbian player.

Even so, there’s an overwhelming sense that this is not an easy road for these athletes: 88 percent, including majorities of every major religious group, say gay and lesbian athletes face discrimination  in professional sports.

For all the controversies, Americans are still captivated by football.

Eighteen percent of Americans — led by 45 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 30 percent of Catholics — say they are more likely to watch football any given Sunday than go to church.

But overall, men and women of all major faiths are mostly alike: About a quarter of both genders choose church, and about another quarter say they devote the day to both God and gridiron.

Who’s missing from football frenzy? One in three Americans overall (32 percent), including 60 percent of “nones.”

RNS sports graphic by Tiffany McCallen, click to view full size

RNS sports graphic by Tiffany McCallen, click to view full size

KRE/MG END GROSSMAN

  • We may discover before it is too late, the will of God is in our hands. http://www.thelastwhy.ca/poems/2008/3/20/gods-will.html

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  • “And 53 percent agree God “rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success,” according to a new PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey released Thursday (Jan. 22).”

    So depressing to think any modern, grown person could be in that 53%

    “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – JESUS (Matthew 19:26)

    Another case of Jesus being an idiot.

    In sports only one side can win.
    Imagine a game where both sides have strong faith in Jesus.
    How can they both be ‘blessed by Jesus’ with a win?

    Such beliefs deserve withering ridicule.

  • Christine Rose

    If this worked, wouldn’t everyone be religious? It wouldn’t even be a matter of faith as we could just measure the “good health and success” of the religious and the secular and see that religiosity is helpful.

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  • TJ

    Atheist Max, you know your scriptures well. Maybe we will see you as a Christian someday?

  • Larry

    Reporter: Adrian Woodhouse, how does it feel to have kicked the Superbowl winning field goal?

    AW: Whoooh!!! Wonderful!! I would like to thank my wife, my mom, my dad, my grandmother who couldn’t be here today, oh and hail Satan.

  • After being a Christian for 44 years I’m sure it will take more than scripture to get me back into that nonsense again.

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  • “If this worked, wouldn’t everyone be religious?”

    If it worked nobody would even have to play the game. We could pray for wins and they would just appear.

  • samuel Johnston

    “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”
    Matthew 6:5

  • Fmr Cath

    Do you think God really has nothing else to do but to concern himself with sports and giving “health and success” to the “faithful” players? Ludicrous… And, yes, how could He be fair if He listened to the prayers of one team and not the other… People are so ignorant. God is not your “genie in a bottle”…

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  • Jeremy

    You might not want to take Jesus’ words out of context Atheist Max. The quote from Jesus comes after Jesus says that it is easier for a camel to thread the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. His disciples respond by asking, “Who then can be saved?” The quote from Jesus’ is in response to this question. In other words, man cannot be saved by money or by the keeping of the law. Man is saved by God alone; by God’s grace. Even faith to believe is supplied by God, as Paul states in his epistle to the Ephesian church. The rich young man who was turned away had originally asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer is that with man it is impossible. This passage has nothing to do with football.

  • “The answer is that with man it is impossible.”

    See?
    That is my problem with religion. What an insult it is!
    Every single ASTOUNDING Accomplishment of human beings is insulted and diminished by religion:

    Internet communications
    Quantum phone links
    Antibiotics,
    Vaccines,
    lessening of death at childbirth,
    Moon landings
    treatments for childhood leukemia
    Hubble space telescope…
    Production of vitamins and supplements for health

    NO SIGN THAT GOD HAD A HAND IN ANY OF IT! Not a glimpse!
    Yet we are supposed to pity ourselves? ‘with man everything is impossible’?

    Religion is pathetic.

    The claim that there is ‘a god’ has been shown to be nothing but a useless bauble from ancient, fearful, primitive texts full of nonsense.

  • Frank

    Said “genie in a bottle” is far more real than your god of your crazy fables. And does many times more.

  • EMR Jane

    Cath your god has nothing at all else to do because your god doesn’t exist. Your god is just a stale old fairy tale.

  • Byron

    If it took you 44 years to discover how wrong you were, what makes you think you finally got it right?

    You’re entitled to your beliefs and opinions, but your sure seem convinced of your beliefs now. I wonder when you were a Christian for 44 years if you were as convinced as you are now and condescending to others you had different views as you are now???

    Fair question.

  • I’m not ‘convinced’ of anything
    except this one thing: I no longer believe God is real.
    Atheism only means ‘I do not believe’ – it isn’t a claim that god is impossible.

    I’m not telling you that God does not exist – perhaps he does.

    But all the claims I have heard regarding the dozens of Gods ever described to me, are all unbelievable.

    Allah? Forget it.
    Ganesha? Ridiculous.
    Yahweh? Not anymore.
    Jesus? Not anymore.

    So my opinion is this:
    Until we can all agree that there is a specific God and what he wants of us (if anything) all religious practices should be voluntarily suspended.

    I think that is only fair.
    If a good god exists, he’ll have to understand our collective confusion and lack of commitment to these contradictory gods because that would necessarily be a feature of a good god.

  • Wots That

    You, should be more, careful, with your use of commas and your sentencing lest your intended meaning, be not, so apparent, the effort you made is, for comment, wasted.