Nearly 30 Percent of Americans Believe God Has a Say in Sports

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Twenty-seven percent of Americans believe that God plays a role in determining which team wins sporting events.

As reported by The Religon News Service, nearly 3-in-10 (27 percent) Americans believe that God plays a role in determining which team wins sports events, according to the January Religion and Politics Tracking Survey, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute during the weekend of the National Football League conference championship games. A majority (53 percent) of Americans also agree that God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success, compared to 42 percent who disagree.

“In an era where professional sports are driven by dollars and statistics, significant numbers of Americans see a divine hand at play,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, PRRI CEO.

Americans in the South are most likely to think God has a stake in the outcome of sports games. More than one-third (36 percent) of Southerners say that God plays a role in who wins, compared to nearly 3-in-10 (28 percent) Americans in the Midwest, 1-in-5 (20 percent) of Americans in the Northeast, and 15 percent of Westerners.

Religious groups also disagree on whether God has a stake in the outcome of sports games, the survey finds. Roughly 4-in-10 minority Christians (40 percent) and white evangelical Protestants (38 percent) say that God plays a role in who wins, compared to fewer than 3-in-10 Catholics (29 percent), fewer than 1-in-5 (19 percent) white mainline Protestants, and approximately 1-in-10 (12 percent) religiously unaffiliated Americans.

Half of Americans say they approve of athletes who express their faith publicly by thanking God during or after a sporting event, while 45 percent say it does not matter, and only 4 percent disapprove, the survey finds. White evangelical Protestants (77 percent) and minority Christians (60 percent) are more likely than white mainline Protestants (47 percent) and Catholics (46 percent) to approve of athletes who express their faith publicly at sporting events. Only 27 percent of religiously unaffiliated Americans say they approve of athletes who express their faith publicly at sporting events.

On any given Sunday, more than one-quarter (26 percent) of Americans say they are more likely to be in church, compared to nearly 1-in-5 (17 percent) who say they are more likely to be watching football. Nearly 4-in-10 (36 percent) say they’re more likely to be doing neither, and approximately 1-in-5 (21 percent) say they are more likely to be doing both.

“At a time when nearly every issue divides the country, passion about sports bridges political divisions,” said Daniel Cox, PRRI Research Director. “There are no red states and blue states when it comes to sports. Nearly two-thirds of Democrats and more than 7-in-10 Republicans say they are sports fans, and more 7-in-10 of both groups say they are likely to watch the (big game)this year.”

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  • Bryan

    That’s interesting. Never really thought about God being involved in a game. I wonder if people still think He is involved when they are betting for a particular team to win? I would think God is more interested in the players as people than a game that promotes false idols, gambling, and drunkenness. Just my two cents.

  • ServantHeart2012

    On the contrary, I can’t help but believe that God is grieved that people have made idols of the games, the people who play the games, and the obscene amount of money that trades hands before, during, and after the games. Man has, to his own peril, placed all sorts of entertainment, including sports, ahead of God. To think God would even bother to “play a role in determining which team wins” is laughable.

    • Bobbo77

      i bet he’s not real impressed with those who “idolize” Pastors, Evangelists, and Christian artists, we need to worry about the greatest commandment, Love one another. God cares about all things we are involved in, what about Romans 8:28, I really like the amplified version

  • Brian

    Take the Superbowl…should we pray for a winner? How will God choose that winner? Based upon the number of people praying for a certain team, the combined faith of those people praying, or the holiness of those praying? Any way you look at it, there are going to be a LOT of people disappointed with unanswered prayers late Sunday night….

  • Andy

    Cultural Christianity at it’s best. This is truly pathetic. With millions that suffer for the cause of Christ and those that are in need of mercy and grace, I’m sure God is ultimately focused on football.

  • alexander

    Beliefs are interesting. God has a hand in everything, but when one considers the life of so many of these arrogant, self inflated athletes, one wonders how much God really cares who wins? God does reward faithfulness to him, but not necessarily from the standpoint of a sports franchise or team. We live in a world filled with a spirit contrary to God. God is concerned for how we represent him, and how we evangelize the world.

  • alhatesreligion

    He is also concerned about what shirt I put on each morning, unless it’s a graphic super hero tee, he’s always cool with that. We can be soooo silly.

  • PastorD

    I really don’t think God cares one way or another about a sports game. I love to watch and participate in a number of sports, but I don’t think God is controlling the outcome. There are some really misguided people/Christians out there who need to open their Bibles and start studying God’s Word. Our Western society is losing sight of God almost completely. Keep praying for these lost souls.


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