Does God Care About the Super Bowl? A Small Number of Americans Believe He Does

Woodrow Wilson High's Edwin Lopez (#1) stands while most of his teammates and coaches kneel during the national anthem before their game against Highland High School on September 10, 2016, in Camden, NJ. Photo courtesy of Yong Kim/Philly.com
Woodrow Wilson High’s Edwin Lopez (#1) stands while most of his teammates and coaches kneel during the national anthem before their game against Highland High School on September 10, 2016, in Camden, NJ. Photo courtesy of Yong Kim/Philly.com

Does God have His Eye on the gridiron? Will he cheer for either the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5?

One-quarter (25 percent) of all Americans believe he does and he will, according to a new survey released today (Jan. 30) by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

That’s slightly less than the number — 28 percent — who believe the Almighty had “a major role” in placing Donald J. Trump in the White House, the same study shows. Another 13 percent say God played a “minor role” — a backup quarterback, if you will — in the results of the 2016 presidential election.

“For people who believe this, it is deeply felt that God is alive in the world and plays a role in all aspects of human affairs even sports” and elections, said Dan Cox, director of research at PRRI. “If you are an enthusiastic fan, why would God be absent from the pitch?”

The current findings closely mirror the results of previous PRRI surveys with some of the same questions. In 2013, 27 percent of Americans said they believed God was involved in sports outcomes, and in 2015 that number was also 25 percent.

Not everyone thinks God is a sports fan. Almost three-quarters of Americans — 73 percent — say God doesn’t follow sports, and many of these beliefs break down along denominational lines:

  • White evangelicals and non-white Protestants are more likely to see God behind the lines on a field of play, with more than one-third (36 percent) and four-in-ten (41 percent) respectively saying God involves Himself in the outcome of sports.
  • Only one quarter of all white mainline Protestants and Catholics think God concerns Himself with sports — 25 percent each.
  • Americans with no religious affiliation — “nones” — are the least likely to say God gives a hoot about sports, with only nine percent agreeing.

But the study found something different when it asked about the role God plays in the career of faithful athletes — people like tennis champions Venus and Serena Williams, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, or Olympic champion Simone Biles, a Catholic, or Seattle Seahawks quarterback and evangelical Christian Russell Wilson, who once said he and girlfriend Ciara, the singer, were dating “the Jesus way” — abstaining from pre-marital sex.

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SOURCE: Religion News Service
Kimberly Winston