home
RSS
Poll: Quarter of Americans say God influences sporting events
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has regularly thanked God in the Ravens' somewhat improbable run to the Super Bowl.
January 29th, 2013
02:10 PM ET

Poll: Quarter of Americans say God influences sporting events

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - With millions of Americans set to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, a new survey finds more than a quarter of Americans believe that God "plays a role in determining which team wins" at sports events.

The survey by the Public Religion Research Institute also found that more than half of Americans believe “God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success.”

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

Asked if they believe God plays a role in who wins, 27% of Americans said yes. Poll results varied among regions and religions: 36% said yes in the South, 28% in the Midwest, 20% in the Northeast and 15% in the West.

Among nonwhite Christians and white evangelicals, 40% and 38% said yes, respectively; 29% of Catholics and 19% of white mainline Protestants also responded that God plays a role.

Jones said these figures reflect many Americans' belief in a very active God.

Minority Christians and white evangelical Christians “have a very personal view of God, a God that is very active in their daily lives and very concerned about the things that matter to them,” Jones said. “So far as sports are one of the things that matter, it stands to reason that God is playing an important role.”

Faith and sports have long gone hand in hand; many athletes regularly thank God after their team wins, and some even write references to Scripture on their game-day gear.

After Kurt Warner’s 1999 Super Bowl victory with the St. Louis Rams, the evangelical Christian used his post-game interview to thank God. “Well, first things first,” Warner told a reporter. “I've got to thank my Lord and Savior up above — thank you, Jesus!”

Sunday’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers could see the same profession of faith. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, who will make this Super Bowl his last game in the NFL, has regularly thanked God in the Ravens' somewhat improbable run to the Super Bowl.

After earning a berth in the big game by defeating the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship, Lewis told reporters, “God doesn't make mistakes. He's never made one mistake. ... God is so amazing.”

“I'll tell anybody. One thing about God's will, you can never see God's will before it happens,” Lewis said after the game. “You can only see at the end of it. For his will to happen this way, I could never ask for anything else.”

In the Public Religion Research Institute poll, 50% said they approved of these types of faithful expressions, while 45% said it doesn’t matter and 4% said they disapproved.

“That is a minuscule number,” Jones said of the people who disapprove. “Even if you look at religious unaffiliated Americans … only 8% said that they disapproved.”

The telephone survey was conducted January 16-20 with a random sample of 1,033 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Evangelical • Faith • Sports

soundoff (741 Responses)
  1. Caleb

    I found this article both interesting and informative. Thank you CNN.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Caleb

      I think those who find fault in the article, don't understand it.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  2. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    Here's my prediction, if the Raven's win Ray Lewis will be praying that his almighty God gave him the victory.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Half (50%) of Americans approve of athletes expressing their faith publicly by thanking God during or after a sporting event, compared to only 4% who disapprove. Nearly half (45%) say it does not matter."

      Really it doesn't matter, but count me in the 4%.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  3. Jim

    100% of the people at this computer think that 27% are morons.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
  4. Jeremiah

    This is the reason I don't go to church anymore. I can't stand the people. God hasn't ever made one mistake huh Mr. Lewis? Where was God when two people were being stabbed to death outside of a club in Atlanta? I know where you were. I guess God guided the knife in your hand to cut vital organs and blood vessels. I'll be impressed when an athlete comes off the field and thanks God for making his team lose...since God doesn't make mistakes, the losing team should be just as happy with God's actions as the winners...right?

    The sooner this nation abandons its sycophantic obsession with religion the better off we will all be.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  5. vinster76

    Let's try this as my last suggestion for the night.....I have heard so much questioning about where was God when children were killed, tsunamis occurred, tornados struck, children starved, movie theater patrons slaughtered......on and on and on......let's just say that God Himself weeps for these same victims.....Let's further say that He provided this horrendous earth with a way out of our depravity and hate......Let's further say that since there is not one righteous person on earth to provide a way of escape out of our depravity, God provided that Way.......He sent His Son into the world as a baby, fully Divine, fully man, who lived a life of moral purity as yet unmatched....Let's further say this same Man preached for three years teaching people to love God and their neighbor's as they loved themselves...Let's further say, that for His reward, He gets Himself killed.....Let's lastly say it was all planned out from the beginning of time.........Jesus Himself said, " I have come that they might have life, and have it to the fullest"..........let's just say.........all these years later, we havent learned a thing......

    January 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Let's not, since you have posted no evidence that anything you listed ever happened.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • Observer

      vinster,

      Did God weep when he torturously drowned EVERY pregnant woman, child, baby, and fetus on the face of the earth?

      January 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • kent

      let's just say that some stupid woman offered an apple that was forbidden to a stupid man, and therefor all of us are born into sin. not by choice. our only alternative is to offer our belief in an invisible God (of which there are many) and that's all we have to do to live in eternity. that's 100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000.....................years of bliss. yeah right. dumb story that fooled many a people on this planet. then go to another religion and see how many more people were fooled by some other religion, and then go and see how another religion fooled the masses over time, and on it goes. wake up.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
  6. Captain Crunch

    Jesus Christ Americans are stupid

    January 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  7. cave man

    Nevermind 27% of American Christians. Just go back to sleep or keep watching TV or whatever it is you do.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
  8. kent

    27% are wrong. next story?

    January 29, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  9. mattfromcleveland

    If there is a God up there, one thing I know, is that he hates Cleveland.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Evidently.

      And Cubs' fans.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Marybeth

      For the last 8 years, He's hated Bill and Tom as well...

      January 29, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Margaret

      Given the last season the AZ Cardinals I would have said it was them God hated. This has got to be the dumbest poll and the dumbest article I have read. Two Catholic Universities face off against each other one loses and one wins, and it was God who made it happen??? Eyes rolling.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
  10. Sean

    *sigh*

    Wars, famine, starvation. And 27% of us think he/she/it has time to worry about the super bowl, or cares.

    I don't want that 27% on my planet anymore.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Devoted Christian

      That's why you need to join the Christian faith. We believe that everyone who disagrees with us will roast in hell for eternity while we spend eternity in the company of such lovable characters as Ted Haggard, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Terry Jones. Join us and receive the Holy Assurance that everyone you don't like will be tortured forever.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  11. Mack

    To envision people back in the office and think that 1 in 4 of them literally believe God imparts himself into sporting events....wow, that's scary. Makes it hard to take people seriously, actually.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • maria

      The fact that even more than 1 in 4 people believe in a god is what is scary to me.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
  12. There. Are. No. Gods!

    Quarter of Americans polled is what the headline should read. What a pointless article.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      You are, I take it, aware of the field of statistics and sampling theory.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
  13. Saraswati

    I wasn't as bothered by this as it seems a lot of people were. Mostly because the number was lower than I would have guessed, so I actually feel mildly more optimistic.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • End Religion

      it did seem lower than I expected as well.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • FreddyCanuck

      And isn't that a sad reflection of America?

      January 29, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Saraswati,

      "the number was lower than I would have guessed"

      that's an indictment if every I heard one!

      Nevertheless, the survey found that " a majority (53%) believe that God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success,"

      That's disturbing enough for me.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Ooops – ever.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Freddy, I'm pretty used to it. There are a lot of sad things in this world and to think this one of the saddest is really to have things out of proportion. Sure I believe we'd be better of with less religiousity, but to think its the key to happiness on earth is really to lack perspective and context. Heck, I'm saddened by the number of people in the Netherlands who believe in homeopathy, but when you get down to it it's not the root of all that's bad in the world.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • Kert V

      Einstein said that god was not playing dice with the universe. Well, I guess, according to one in four of you, he is... and the sports book, too!

      January 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
  14. Hitchens

    Christ psychotics

    January 29, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
  15. vinster76

    what is very interesting to me tonite is the folks who are positive there is no god.......what is equally interesting is the snarling that appears whenever one does not "toe" the atheist line of no god......It has been said over and over here,"there is no proof of your God" ad nauseum I might add.....OK.......please, I am asking you in the nicest possible way......explain to me, without a Designed, where the universe and all it entails, first got its source........I really would like to know......from everything I see, I see beauty, design, tragedy, poetry, poverty, etc........How did we begin to name or classify any of this.......what intelligence gave us our intelligence.......I have yet to see an anwer posited as to how it all came about, absent a Designer.....I will wait for an answer........How did it ALL get here, and explain the precision and engineering of it all – right down to the last jot of DNA. If you can do that, I will fling off my religion with the air of one loosed from prison.....just make sense when you answer, dont give me any of this: "It just happens to be here" crap.....that will never explain the design of life itself......Ok, I await your response........

    January 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What makes you think that there IS an answer? I am fine with the answer that we don't yet know. We may never know. That doesn't mean it must have been some invisible being.

      I would far rather continue to search for answers than to surrender and cling to the supernatural as an explanation for anything that is unknown.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Colin

      Why does there need to be a designer, much less one who busies himself with the fate of human beings? And, if you posit a designer due t othe comnplexity of the Universe, wouyld not this designer require a designer who designed him?

      January 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Observer

      vinster76,

      Do you understand that agnostics and atheists don't HAVE to have an answer? Sometimes it's just honest to say "I don't know". You DON'T know.

      Even if there is an intelligent design, this IN NO WAY proves that God from the Bible exists. Maybe there is a God, but one who is far more like Jesus than the often vain, arrogant, mass-killing God of the Bible. Who knows? Maybe it was all created by the Three Stooges or a committee of zombies. You CANNOT eliminate any of them even with intelligent design.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • FreddyCanuck

      I don't understand your confusion? Science does explain all your questions, you just simply refuse to believe that evolution, over millions and billions of years, could result in the wonderful world we live in. Of course, that same evolution has created mankind with its good side and its bad side. So, don't pray to any God to help us, we have to do that ourselves. This includes any stupid sport we play.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • Marybeth

      the "God of the gaps"

      January 29, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
    • freedom for those whom dare

      ... to just fling the religion ... let freedom reign

      January 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • TheRationale

      If you were honestly interested in answered you would have Googled that and found the answer.

      1) Real answer? Big Bang, physics, go read about it.
      2) Why? The big why? Who knows. Nobody at this point anyway.
      3) You're begging the question – where did God come from? You can't say he doesn't need a creator but the universe does.
      4) You also make an argument from ignorance: How else could it have happened? Well it could have been Gaia. Oops.
      5) Science is how you figure everything out. It's how you get answers and distill reality from the nonsense.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Freddy, I agree science explains all of the OP's questions, except consciousness. It actually isn't needed for the survival mechanism of consciousness like behavior. I'm certainly not arguing we need a god to explain it, but as of yet science doesn't.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So, vinster, do YOU believe your god is on the side of the 49ers or the Ravens? I'm guessing you are one of the 27%.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • kent

      vinster76? if you can't understand something not having a designer, who designed God? harder for me to grasp a supernatural that never was created.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • elgeevz

      I have no idea who created the universe. But I rejected the Hebrew god when I was eleven and read about the atrocity described in The Book of Numbers, Chapter 31. I may be doomed to hell, but at least I'm more moral than Moses.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Margaret

      I won't argue whether there is a god, to me that is a personal opinion and you are welcome to it. But God interfering in something as stupid as a football game. Surely he or she has better things to do, like listening to all those parents of sick kids, or people who are in pain.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
  16. blyclaflin

    Last year San Francisco, Baltimore, New England and New York were in the conference champions. New York ended up winning the Super Bowl the year they legalized gay marriage. So using this deductive reasoning set forth by this 28%.....God supports gays and gay marriages. Sweet!

    January 29, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
  17. JJ

    I just wished Jesus cared for the thousands of children who die every day from abuse, crime and starvation as he cares for football. What a fuking asshole. I can't believe we are so surrounded by so many Talibangelical imbeciles.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • FreddyCanuck

      Come on! Are you kidding me? A quarter of all Americans believe that God cares more about a sporting event than he does for the innocent people killed everyday! These 25% of Americans need to die so that the American gene pool gets cleaned up a bit. Holy Cow!

      January 29, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Mack

      Too bad he was so busy helping determine the outcome of sporting events that he couldn't have intervened during that nightclub disaster in Brazil that killed 230 people. Just too much on his plate, I suppose. Oh well, I'm sure he was just working in mysterious ways and we'll all find out later why it happened and say "Oh, now I see. Gosh, we're so much better off now. Thank God."

      January 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
  18. ?

    lots of furious atheists tonight...entertaining as always!

    January 29, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • Observer

      Not many believers on here today. Rough day for them between this story and the Catholic hospital deciding a fetus isn't a person.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • JJ

      Lots of fucktard Christians out tonight. You all are embarassing as always.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • vinster76

      nothing makes the atheist more ticked off more than when you bring up GOD......God gets all the blame for all the tragedy in the world.....If there wasnt a god in the first place, humans would not know tragedy or injustice when we see it.....it would be a non-issue to us......survival of the fittest would not permit the emotions of love, compassion, empathy....Darwininian theory could not allow any of those and many other of the best of people's capacity for caring to surface....You cant explain it away by synapse or neurons.......without a Supreme Being, there would be no sense of justice or injustice, we would not call it anything because there is no Ultimate Moral Standard to compare it. You cant have it both ways......

      January 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Observer

      vinster,

      "without a Supreme Being, there would be no sense of justice or injustice, we would not call it anything because there is no Ultimate Moral Standard to compare it"

      Nonsense. You might not be able to figure out that's it's not a good idea to go around killing everyone, but most Christians are brighter than that and don't need a 2,000-year-old book to tell them. You must think Christains are pretty ignorant.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      vinster...you use...lots of...ellipses...to avoid...posting anything...resembling facts....

      January 29, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  19. tracieandcaitlin

    Sorry parents of Newtown God was to busy blessing sports stars with good health then to watch over the innocent. How stupid and blind are people.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
  20. j

    yeah, just ask tim tebow how that's working out for him...

    January 29, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.