Religion and Football: Where do Christians Fit In?

Every Sunday millions of Americans gather together in brotherly fellowship.  They share their blessings with other like believers, sing praises of all that has been done for their congregation, and lift each other up when they are filled with sorrow.  Like the faithful of the early Christian church you know by the joy and fellowship of the people gathered they are of one group of believers.  They are football fans.  

On Super Bowl Sunday American Atheists will take advantage of bringing this question to the front of everyone’s mind by flying a banner over Lucas Oil Stadium.  The banner says

 “Football beats church anytime –” 

And there’s no irony to the fact that it’s scheduled to be in the air from 9:30-11:30 AM local time, right about the same time that churches will be meeting for worship.

Dave Silverman, President of American Atheists, stated, “We took advantage of a unique opportunity to remind many Americans that their religion is not as important as they like to pretend it is. In many cities around the country the running joke is that football is the most popular religion.”

Mr. Silverman continued, “The banner will be seen by thousands of tailgaters, who clearly agree with American Atheists since they chose to sit on a tailgate instead of a pew. They chose to party with friends instead of praying with preachers.”

First, for an individual who bases his decisions on “Logic and Science”, making a broad statement assuming all the people tailgating are Sunday keeping Christians seems careless.  Also lumping in the millions of Christians who attend church faithfully with the thousands who tailgate seems as foolish as the Christians he complains do the same.

Now I would hardly go so far as to say the thousands of loyal football fans “agree with the American Atheists” just because they tailgate, but I understand the sentiment.  I’ve often wondered whether Tim Tebow or many of the other “Christian Athletes” go to church on Sunday mornings prior to heading to work.  The same could be asked for the thousands of tailgaters each and every week.  If you claim to be a Christian and exhort the virtues of regular church attendance as part of your Christian living, where does skipping church to play or participate in a game come in?

I’ve known a lot of Christians who have sacrificed active church participation (church service, prayer meetings, youth group, small groups, outreach, mission trips, etc.) in preference of travel soccer teams, select basketball, cheerleading, and dance competitions.  These individuals are not bad people.  They aren’t going to become criminals or terrorists.  But they choose to have the value of their life defined by athletics rather than Christian service.

I don’t believe that church attendance makes you a Christian.  And I know that in general people who worship on Sunday typically don’t observe that day as strictly as Seventh-Day Adventists or Jews observe the Sabbath.  But Mr. Silverman points out one of the greatest flaw in the life of a Christian.  Your actions speak louder than your words.  Read it again “Religion isn’t as important as they say it is“.  When the rubber meets the road and it comes down to what we want to do, religion often comes second.  Can you really call yourself a Christian at that point?



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