Feature

Sports stars with God on their side

Christian chaplains are now &ldquo;embedded&rdquo; with all professional&mdash;and many college&mdash;baseball, basketball, and football teams, providing counseling and Bible study, said Tom Krattenmaker <em>USAToday.com

Tom Krattenmaker
USAToday.com

Watching big-time sports these days often feels like attending a revival meeting, said Tom Krattenmaker. “Players point skyward to the Almighty after reaching the end zone or home plate; star athletes voice thanks and praise to their savior after a big win.” But fans may not realize that these displays reflect “decades of hard work by evangelical ministries to convert players and coach them to use their stature to promote a particular version of conservative Christianity.”

Christian chaplains are now “embedded” with all professional—and many college—baseball, basketball, and football teams, providing counseling and Bible study. “But Jesus’ representatives in sports aren’t just practicing faith. They are leveraging sports’ popularity” to promote a doctrine that considers nonbelievers to be sinners who must be converted. The University of Florida football coach recently remarked that his star player’s outspoken evangelicalism is “good for college football, good for young people, good for everything.”

It may be good for a lot, but everything? “Not if you’re Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, nonevangelical Protestant, agnostic, or anything else outside the conservative evangelical camp.”

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