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Soccer team 'not about winning'
August 16th, 2011
10:20 AM ET

Christian pro soccer team: ‘Scoring souls, not goals’

By Elizabeth Johnson, CNN

Charlotte, North Carolina (CNN) - With 12 minutes left in the game, the Charlotte Eagles are losing 2-0. The North Carolina humidity hangs thick in the evening air. The home crowd becomes restless as the opposing team's goalie blocks kick after kick.

But the team gets a big break in the 78th minute and scores twice in two minutes against the Rochester Rhinos. This men’s soccer match ends in a tie.

Did God bless the Eagles with those goals?

“I don’t think God cares if we win or lose,” Eagles captain Josh Rife says, shrugging.

Coach Mark Steffens agrees: “Our No. 1 goal is not winning games. Our goal is to bring glory to God.”

It’s an unusual stance for a sports team, but the Eagles aren’t just any soccer squad. Members of the United Soccer Leagues’ 12-team professional division, they’re the only ones who say they care more about Christian values than about winning.

The team was established in 1993 after a “sports junkie fell in love with God,” Eagles co-founder Brian Davidson says. But if he was going to continue being involved in soccer - where he saw players cheating and sneaking fouls past referees - he needed to find a way to live out his faith on the field.

He had two goals for his ministry. First, teach men to live for God on the field by playing fair. The second: Send team members into the community - both locally and “to the ends of the earth” - to teach impoverished children and refugees about soccer and to use the sport to attract people who wouldn’t normally visit church.

Like any high-level competition team, the Eagles have regular practices. They sweat in the scorching heat. They win games. They miss goals. They hear lectures.

But the organization also focuses on character by investing in the players and the community.

Steffens, Eagles coach for 15 years, uses what he calls an “in-reach” plan, mentoring and building personal relationships with the 26 athletes on his squad and setting up accountability groups within the team.

“My ministry is to grow 26 guys into men,” Steffens says. “Men who do the right thing.”

That goes for both on and off the field.

On the field, the men are expected to be above reproach. They know better than to tug on an opponent’s jersey, run out the clock or take a dive to fake a foul. As Christians, they say they hold themselves to a high standard. They challenge each other to work harder and play better.

But is that enough?

Some observers say Christianity and sports are a questionable mix.

Shirl Hoffman, author of “Good Game: Christianity and the Culture of Sport,” says Christianity teaches “peace, humility, putting others before yourself,” while athletes are often more willing to cheat, hurt their opponents or take credit for their accomplishments.

“Sports don’t develop character,” Hoffman says. “They teach you to be selfish.”

Rife, 31, an Eagles captain and a midfielder for nine years, disagrees. He says there is a common misconception that Christians should be meek or passive. There were times when Jesus displayed meekness in his ministry, he says, but other times when he was confrontational.

Rife argues that sports are the “greatest teacher for wrestling with one’s faith.” Learning to strive together for excellence and unity in a competitive, challenging environment can help players grow and deepen their beliefs, he says.

As for whether God cares if a team wins or loses, he says that “isn’t a biblical view.” He cites the book of Job, in which God let a righteous man lose his family, livestock and health. God cares more about the bigger picture - the response of a man’s heart, as he did with Job - than he does about making sure they look good, Rife says.

Eagles co-founder Davidson says he realizes there may be few examples of godliness in professional sports. But like Rife, he says there are opportunities in a game when “we as Christians can live out our faith” - such as responding with grace to a ref’s bad call.

And when an Eagles player reacts to such a call with anger? Davidson knows it will be a learning moment and an opportunity for the player’s faith to grow. There’s a lot of grace and forgiveness in the Eagles’ locker room.

“We’re OK with failure,” Davidson says. “We just want to grow from it.”

Bob Schindler is a former pastor and current vice president of church mobilization for Church Sports Outreach, an organization that helps churches use sports as a tool for spreading the gospel. He believes the sports realm has strayed from God’s intended purpose, but that the problem is limited to selfishly motivated individuals. Competition itself is not the problem, he says.

A key question from the Christian perspective, Schindler says, is whether there was competition in the Garden of Eden.

If the answer is no, then sports are a result of sin, and Christians should not partake in competitive activities.

But if the answer is yes - as he believes it to be - then Christians can take part in competition if they use it for the glory of God.

“The whole point of sports is to draw the best out of your teammates and opponents,” Schindler says. “I see that as very compassionate and grace-filled.”

The word “competition” is derived from the Latin “competere,” which means “strive together,” Schindler says. But he says athletes are indoctrinated with a self-glorifying mindset that has corrupted the word's original meaning.

Aware of the problem, Steffens, the Eagles' coach, regularly talks to his team about it.

“Guys, it’s not about you,” Steffens tells his players. “It’s about putting God first.”

During one pregame chapel service - a regular feature in the team's locker room - speaker Sam Blumenthal, a local businessman, reminds the team of this principle: It’s about “scoring souls, not scoring goals,” he tells them.

Through prayer - before and after each game - the team refocuses its attention on God.

“I think most high-level athletes pray to God for good individual performances and for their team to win,” Steffens says. “Our main prayer before games is for God to grant us strength and wisdom to play fair and Christ-like."

After the game, the team prays for its opponents and thanks God for the results, regardless of the outcome.

“We honor God whether we win, lose or draw,” Steffens says.

His players feel called by God to play for this team and want to “keep the main thing the main thing,” Steffens says. “And the main thing isn’t winning.”

“Priorities are well set and kept,” says goalie Eric Reed, 27. “It’s about living the gospel in a broken world - like in any job.”

The Eagles’ ministry can be seen in various ways around Charlotte, through weekly soccer camps, church involvement and inner-city ministry - as well as in their overseas tours.

This year, six players will travel to Trinidad to play soccer and do service work in the community. The team traveled to Jamaica last year, playing high-level opponents as well as spending time at an orphanage and a delinquent center.

Other recent destinations include Nigeria, Ethiopia, Colombia, Laos and Thailand. The team members who travel each raise a couple thousand dollars for the trips, believing they are preaching sermons through the way they play soccer overseas.

Locally, four players and two staffers have moved into four urban neighborhoods to lead the Urban Eagles, an outreach program directed at kids living in low-income housing.

“We’re a family,” Eagles forward and Urban Eagles volunteer Ben Page says. “The Lord has created this culture of love and acceptance, and the kids have responded.”

Page, 26, lives in Grier Heights in east Charlotte and has worked with the Urban Eagles since January 2010. Through this work, Page said he has realized that the unconditional love he is developing for the kids “is the love God has for me.”

In addition to soccer, the kids are taught basic manners and respect for one another. They learn how to struggle through difficult times and work hard.

“The world says they’re a statistic,” Page says, “that they’ll go to jail, or won’t graduate, or will cause trouble.” Urban Eagles teaches them that God has a plan and a purpose for their lives by pointing them to Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

“My goal isn’t to see their behavior change,” Page says, “but to see their heart change. And the fruit of a heart change is a behavior change.”

Page has played for the Eagles since 2008. He considers the team a training ground to learn how to care for others and find joy and purpose in investing in eternal things, such as sharing the gospel of Jesus with others.

“This environment where we’ve been coached by men who love the Lord - we’ve been cared about as people instead of just players,” Page says.

It’s an attitude that he hopes to pass along to the kids he works with off the field.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • North Carolina • Sports

soundoff (1,195 Responses)
  1. MacK

    The golden rule of holy, blessed soccer: beat the other team, as you would have them beat yours. And the ten commandments?! 1: Thou shalt not bet on another team. 2: There is no I in team. 3: Thou shall curse the other team's name in vain. 4: Recognize the Sabbath as American football day. 5: Honor your coach and owner 6: Thou shall kill the other team's penalty kicks. 7: Thou shalt not covet another footballer's smokin' hot wife. 8: Thou shall steal always and often. 9: Thou shalt not badmouth the ref. 10: Covet the trophy and the wealth and the fame of being No. 1.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Semper Fidelis

      And your point is...............................................yawn.

      August 16, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  2. Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

    So these guys play with their b@ lls for jesus?

    August 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • The Guy

      Comment of the day...

      August 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Karl

      Who doesn't?

      August 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  3. bradley

    so your coca cola sponsorship and tax payers money funding your team brings glory to god?

    get bent you hypocrites, bringing an awful name to all those who have any kind of spirituality and faith.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • General

      Bradely : The league is funded by tax payers $ moron

      August 16, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  4. Bo

    Somehow I'm inclined to think of a time when we were having a family picnic at a Denver park in Colorado. I was sitting at a table talking to my daughter in law when I suddenly saw a doe with her fawn crossing a large open area in the park. Quitetly, but excited, I said, "Hey everyone, look, there's a deer and a fawn!" Of course this was a very rare sight because we were in the middle of a city. Everybody looked and awed accept my daughter in law. In spite of all the others urgeing her to look, she said, "I'm not going to look because there is no deer there, you are just trying to fool me." She wouldn't look because she didn't believe, yet it was the truth. She missed a rare sight. There are people like that in this world; they miss out because the refuse to believe something that seems impossible, and they ridicule those that believe, just as did my daughter in law.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • cecilia

      you sound like a really loving father in law to take the time to tell us how foolish your daughter in law was – way to go day

      August 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Chazbo

      That would be "except" my daughter you idiot. And stop believing in the tooth fairy and Mother Goose, and god, and zeus and thor and all the other myths being perpetrated by people who want nothing but power over you and your money. You don't need that nonsense to behave morally and to love and be kind. There is not one iota of proof that any sort of god exists. If Jesus showed up today he would be locked up for the nut that he is/was.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Hawa23

      I am not one to bash those who believe. You can believe in all the ghosts you want. My issues is when religious folks try to tell the the rest of us how to live. If you are against abortion, that's fine, but dont push your view on the rest of us, or if you are against gays getting married, fine, but don't push your view on the rest of us. The funny thing I hear from religious folks , especially politicians, is get government out of our lives yet these are the first people who want government to ban abortions, or block gays from getting rights or get married or the ones trying to limit the voters who don't vote for them reduced by proposing ligislations. Right, you say get government out of our lives, but i think you hypocrites mean, to get government out of our lives for the programs we believe in but the ones we don't, by all means, ban, cut, reduce, get rid of.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • JT

      You are actually comparing your daughter-in-law's thinking you are pulling her leg with those of us who do not believe in ghosts, gods and fairies? From your little story I assume you believe in leprachauns?

      August 16, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  5. Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

    So is the mascot jebus on a cross running around the field?

    August 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      He doesn't run...he just hangs out on the sideline.

      Sorry, couldn't resist.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • MomOf3

      You're driving the bus to hell for that one... 😉

      August 16, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  6. herp

    Qularkoo,
    Atheists are not always correct on all things. We are not a group bound by a single doctrine. We are free thinkers. An Atheist is Not someone who claims there is, with certainty, no God. An Atheist is someone who lacks belief in God. Is it possible for a Jew, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Budhist, or an atheist to acheive a happy, balanced and moral life? If your answer is no and you believe you're right and that the people who do not think like you are all wrong, then you are the one struggling with humility. Not Derp. It's okay to admit that you don't understand the true nature of the universe. No one does. Just because something feels good to believe doesn't make it true. If you're not familiar with moral thought outside of religion Google secular humanism.

    BTW, The largest chairtable donation ever given by 1 person was $58 billion in 2008 by a Bill Gates, an Atheist.

    Gates was interviewed November 1995 on PBS by David Frost. Below is the transcript with minor edits.

    Frost: Do you believe in the Sermon on the Mount?

    Gates: I don't. I'm not somebody who goes to church on a regular basis. The specific elements of Christianity are not something I'm a huge believer in. There's a lot of merit in the moral aspects of religion. I think it can have a very very positive impact.

    Frost: I sometimes say to people, do you believe there is a god, or do you know there is a god? And, you'd say you don't know?

    Gates: In terms of doing things I take a fairly scientific approach to why things happen and how they happen. I don't know if there's a god or not, but I think religious principles are quite valid.

    Cheers,
    herp

    August 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Jim

      Bill Gates donation and philanthropy is awesome. I agree. So much good has and will continue to come out of that. It is inspiring for everyone.

      But who gave more Bill Gates who donated $58 B or the widow who gave all she had?

      August 16, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Jim: Bill Gates. Duh.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • ramicio

      Yeah, and you know what Bill Gates funds with his "charity"? Vaccines and eugenics. To rid the earth of "too many" people so he and his family can have access to more resources, cheaper, while they're filthily rich.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Jim

      Bill Gates donation and philanthropy is awesome. I agree. So much good has and will continue to come out of that. It is inspiring for everyone.

      But who gave more Bill Gates who donated $58 B or the widow who gave all she had?

      ----------–
      Depends on if the widow was a fool. Did she give it to a mega church preacher? Also, what happened after she gave everything? Did she lose her home and live on the streets? Did she starve and die on the streets. These are important questions to ask.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      These questions have to be asked because the key is how did god respond to the widow afterwards. Because we know god takes care of his believers. They can have faith that he will be there for them.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • ralphinator

      @sean – and your answer proves his point. The widow might have not given more when looking at the amount of money, however, she was certainly more generous and in her heart what she gave was way more than Gates.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Jim

      @Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Alright lets get specific.

      Was Mother Teresa a fool?

      August 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Vestram Liberate Mentem

      Well said, herp, well said. People should be encouraged to keep an open mind to people of all backgrounds and religions (or non-believers). That being said, it takes some real self-awareness to put yourself in the shoes of someone who is meaningfully different. Extensive travel and exposure to others helps immensely but is not necessarily an option for everyone. Similarly a good education can be enlightening with the right teachers. Unfortunately, in my experience, people with strong religious beliefs find this process much more difficult. I would simply ask that people respect other people's choices even if that means not believing in a god. Since we all like labels I'm currently trying on Spiritual Humanist for size as it's fairly descriptive and not as much of a lightning rod as Atheist. Meanwhile I'd like to see some divine intervention at Liverpool to ensure qualification to the Champions League this season. Just askin'.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @ralphinator: Tell that to a mother that has to watch her child starve because there's not enough funding to help everyone.

      "Oh, but her gift was so much better than the guy that could've fed everyone."

      Grow up. When dealing with people in need, the more you can help the better, stupid parables notwithstanding.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Vestram Liberate Mentem

      Live your life according to Aesop. That'll straighten you out.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Jim

      @Anti Christian Taliban Schizophrenics

      Alright lets get specific.

      Was Mother Teresa a fool?

      -------–
      My understanding is Mother Teresa gave her personal time and energy. That is completely different than giving up your money. I commend any person who give up their time and energy for a good cause whether it be feeding the hungry or rescuing animals. They are directly involved.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Jim

      She did not just give her personal time and energy. She gave everything including her money (the Nobel comes with an honorarium that is not insignificant). The distinction you draw is arbitrary. They both gave what they had (Gates and Mother Teresa). One had money and generously gave the other gave her life. It doesn't really matter but who gave more?

      Was Mother Teresa a fool?

      August 16, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Jim: You asked, "Was Mother Teresa a fool?"

      Yes.

      August 16, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Jim

      @SeanNJ

      Why was Mother Teresa a fool?

      August 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Jim: Why don't you get to your point instead of dragging it out with this silly line of questioning? It's unnecessary and annoying.

      August 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Jim

      @SeanNJ

      Why are you so annoyed? You shouldn't let stuff like this get you so upset.

      The question I asked was simple enough. I wanted to know why you think what you think. I have no motive-this is a blog site on CNN.com for heavens sake.

      Anyone else want to answer my simple question, why was mother teresa a fool? (I am sure there are many who agree with SeanNJ)

      August 17, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @Jim: Ok, I'll play.

      She was a fool for one of two reasons:

      1) She apparently believed in an anthropomorphic god who presumably meddled in the state of affairs of its creation; OR

      2) Her "crisis of faith," which reportedly lasted for some 50 years of her life, was real; and yet she still put up this facade of the true believer.

      To believe in that type of god is simply foolish; to not believe and yet still maintain the trappings of said faith is, in my opinion, dishonest and just as foolish.

      August 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Jim

      @SeanNJ

      You’ll play? I have no motive and I have no point other than to communicate with others (which includes you).

      She did believe in an anthropomorphic god. She believed that this god had a purpose for her life which was to serve other people so she dedicated most of her adult life to serving the poorest of the poor and the neediest of the needy forsaking herself at many turns. She gave of herself as freely as one can in a place she was not from, serving people she did not know because of this god. The streets of Calcutta are a better place today because of this person you call a fool. The good that she did cannot be quantified by accountants or secular humanists or devout theists.

      She battled her faith to be sure although I think it is easy to oversimplify this by reading short exerts from popular news articles or one of her hundreds of personal letters. In the end though you cannot easily dismiss her as dishonest on some level-it is really not a fair accusation on your part. She gave her entire life to this belief that ultimately made the world a better place something I assume you aspire to as well. She clearly believed despite the doubts and the proof is her life. Would you say atheists have no doubts about the existence of god? Mind you that whether you believe in a god or not makes little difference to me.

      To me a fool is someone who does foolish things with their life (their time, talents and wealth). I don’t want to speak for you but it sounds like to you that what really matters is motivation. So despite the good she did and her dedicated service to others and the inspiration she has served to many that she is a fool anyway because of her motivation. If her motivation had left a god out of the equation she would not be a fool. I think that is strange. If Bill Gates were a Christian he would also be a fool (or maybe you think he is a fool anyway for other reasons)?

      August 17, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Jim

      @SeanNJ

      Sorry for the length. One clarification. Of course given my post you can assume I am a Christian and you'd be right. I do not think she believed in an anthropomorphic god. I understand this is what you think. I think she believed in a very real god. Cut and paste error.

      Cheers.

      August 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Jim: I would argue that Mother Teresa has her detractors who recount some rather ugly parts of her work. I'm not the least bit interested in listing them here, but the details and their sources should be easily found with a simple web search. However, we're getting off topic.

      Suffice it to say you understand me correctly. I don't think the motivation and the deeds are the least bit relevant to each other. If the intention is to make the world a better place, then our actions speak for themselves.

      Sam Harris wrote, in reference to G W Bush:

      “The president of the United States has claimed, on more than one occasion, to be in dialogue with God. If he said that he was talking to God through his hairdryer, this would precipitate a national emergency. I fail to see how the addition of a hairdryer makes the claim more ridiculous or offensive.”

      By the opposite side of that same coin, I fail to see how Mother Teresa's faith or "personal sacrifice" makes her contribution to the cause any more noble that that of Gates.

      August 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Jim

      I know that Mother Teresa’s contribution is not necessarily more noble than Gates. I think that is debatable although as you guessed I’d probably argue for her (and I do recognize that this is kind of a silly argument-both are noble). As I said Gates donation is awesome and inspiring. I was just using her as an example of someone who gave in a different way than Gates did and trying to show that at least in some ways it was as meaningful and perhaps more meaningful (debatable as I said). You have commented that when it comes to the mother watching her child starve beside her because there was not enough funding for everyone that this makes Bill Gates gift more significant. I guess I see your point but on some level I also disagree. Bill Gates has not even come close to solving the plague of world hunger. His gift, as big as it is, as generous as it is and as awesome as it is, is still limited. It is finite and as such you are still left with that mother who eventually watches her child starve because of lack of funding for everyone. You said that when dealing with needy people the more help the better. I agree. We both agree that one starving child (or adult) is one too many. It is not acceptable. Still, practically speaking, if you are one of the people that actually does get help and your child does not starve then to you a difference was made by someone. That matters. So I am sure we agree that even though we (you and I personally) cannot help everyone this should not stop us from helping some. Edward Everett Hale said, "I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do and, by the grace of God, I shall do."

      I understand you don’t believe there is a god. I understand you have your reasons and really I don’t care all that much if you believe there is a god or not. It doesn’t make you a bad person to me. It doesn’t make you less moral than me or anyone else. It also doesn’t mean that everyone who believes in a god is moral. It does not mean that they don’t have shortcomings. You mention the shortcomings of Mother Teresa. Did she claim to be perfect? Does anyone think she was perfect? Of course not. Is she held up as an example of self sacrifice and virtue? Yes she is and that may be your complaint. “She is no better than the rest of us!” you may say. I think you are right on many levels. She made lots of mistakes in her life just like you and I. She was at times cruel, a liar, a hypocrite, a thief, a fraud and a lousy friend. She let people down, broke promises, hurt people’s feeling on purpose, was harsh, unmerciful and ungrateful and probably worse. Still her faith did motivate her to do good things for other people and to make a difference in their lives. So those of us who are theists hold her up as an example. I think that is fair given the totality of her life. Being a theist or an atheist does not make us moral or immoral. We are all capable of evil and good and we can all rationalize our behavior or be motivated based on our personal philosophy of life. The soccer players in this article are motivated by their personal philosophy to do good. So was Mother Teresa and so was and is Bill Gates.

      They are probably going to shut the thread down soon. If you are interested in continuing the dialogue you can email me at dudonesjdd@gmail.com.
      If not I enjoyed it-you made me think about things I haven't considered in a while or at all. Have a good day.

      August 18, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  7. gary

    God is myth, pretend. Bible is folklore, written by primitives, translated and changed myriad times over millennia. Can't we get past the remnants of ancient myths?

    August 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Bo

      I thank CNN for telling us a good story about a Christian pro soccer team. The Christian faith is still growing even when the atheists and "nay-sayers" harkle and try to find words. Give us more of those stories!! By the way stop asking the question if pro sport and Christian faith should go together. It has always worked and it will always work fine.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Bob

      God is a myth? I chose to be open to the possibility of a higher power than lillte ole me.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Vestram Liberate Mentem

      @Bob
      As long as people care more about all the little ole me's than a higher power I don't care whom people look to for strength.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  8. rgleason426

    The Apostle Paul makes numerous references to sports in his letters, and never in a negative light. Sports teaches discipline, prudence and how to lose graciously. I don't see how, if played properly and in balance with other aspects of life, Christianity is at all incompatible with sports.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  9. Albert

    God and sports mix insofar as the athlete believes that God's grace is the reason for his/her ability, God's grace is the reason for his/her life and God's glory is what should be exemplified by their life. I commend the coach and the players for standing up for God in a society that would just as soon believe that there is no God. May God be glorified by their selflessness, something we could all learn from.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      Or they could be selfless, be great examples, and not mention God at all. That would be much more inclusive, but bearing witness always seems to be a sticking point, it seems. It's a concept that's far outlived its usefulness.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • cecilia

      I might be able to accept some of the religious postings here except for the fact that I believe most would be republican ergo against helping feed the hungry, love people for who they are, put down their guns, believe being patriotic has little to do with fighting wars and that President Obama is an American – the list goes on and on

      August 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  10. wes

    Has an athlete in a losing interview ever cursed god for not helping him win and helping the others? I'm always irked by people thanking god for their win. Someone has to put god in his place and tell the fk not to dabble in sports.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  11. Nathan

    I'm stripping to get closer to God.

    Oh wait – God's not real... who's going to pay my bills? OH YEAH – I'll just go on unemployment.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  12. Guest

    This is stuff I like to read about. Everything on the news now is about war and gay marriage. It's nice to be able to read about people not ashamed to bring Glory to God. After all, He created us all.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • derp

      "After all, He created us all."

      Really? you were a devine creation of virgin birth?

      Darn, I just have parents that created me.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      Ummm, if that's true, then he also created the gays and the people fighting the wars and killing each other – often in his name. why can't gay people be proud of who they are? god created them too! lol.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Notch

      Yeah, right! If you need an invisible Skygod to behave like a decent human being, then there's something seriously wrong with you my friend.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • cecilia

      do you really think a ball game will bring more glory to God than acceptance and love of gay people – you know, I am a christian also, by that I mean I go the an episcopal church – we love and accept everyone there – now there is some real peace that passes understanding – love

      August 16, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  13. Brian

    Thier opinions should quickly be discredited.

    Not for thier beliefs at all, but because they play soccer.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • LetsAllJumptToConclusions

      That's also why we'll never win the World Cup: We play soccer while the rest of the world plays football (futbol).

      August 16, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • dm

      funny

      August 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  14. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    So if they don't care whether they win or lose, why are they bothering to play? They need to get their minds on the game, not their ancient mythology. I wish some team made up of non-believers would admit to that philosophy and soundly defeat these silly people - not with cheating, but simply with better playing. Atheists of the world, let your voices be heard!
    At Qularkono: The same question can be asked regarding religions, both modern and ancient. They can't all be right. So why bother with any of them? Morality has nothing to do with religion. Think for yourself, and get up off your knees! Religion is degrading, something for people with a slave mentality.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
  15. Heaven

    Whether you believe in God or not good for you. We live in a democratic society,giving us the freedom of speech and everthing else. However the question you have to ask yourself on a daily basis is what if the Chrisitans are right about God? Don't follow the crowd, for often the crowd always ends in the wrong path. Don't wait till you get to the other side to know that there's a God or no God. Praise God for what these men are doing.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      lol, but what if the Pastafarians are right??? And there is a Flying Spaghetti Monster watching over us? Then what? Do you see the lunacy of your argument???

      August 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • tantalum

      Sure I'll ask that every day provided you ask the following:
      -what if the muslims are right?
      -what if the hindus are right?
      -what if the buddhists are right?
      etc etc etc etc

      On second thought I'm more than content being an atheist and have no need to ask your question. Just as you are content being a Christian that you won't ask my questions.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • ralphinator

      @pasta – the difference is that there is no evidence to support your claim. And despite what you say, history clearly shows that Jesus existed, and people (who were not crazy) believed in the things he accomplished. If you rule out Jesus ever existed, then you must also say that Alexander the Great never existed, bc the evidence for Jesus overwhelmingly exceeds that.

      Sorry to burst your bubble :/

      August 16, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Whos Grace?

      @ralphinator, the pastafarian isn't debating the existence of jesus, he's debating the existence of a christian god. something there is no evidence of, but complete evidence for the lack of.

      to address the point you made, however, you are correct that jesus was an actual person. but the biblical accounts have been proven to be embellished based on factual historical record kept by the Roman authorities and Rabbis in the region. not to mention that the story of the last super, immaculate conception, and numerous "teachings" were actually high-jacked from Greek, Babylonian, and Roman lore.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  16. cheeses of nazerath (gouda be praised)

    Ah yes. Jesus goes pro.

    A new development in the evangelical's prosperity gospel. Combine Jesus and the sports business. It's all for the glory of god, natch.

    "'I don’t think God cares if we win or lose,' Eagles captain Josh Rife says, shrugging."

    I'm inclined to agree, though I wonder what these guys are praying for then at the beginning of the games. To win? There ya go! To be a better player? Well, that seems a sly way of pretending you're not praying to win. To be a better christian? Fine. What has that got to do with soccer? I thought the real christians don't wear their jesus on their sleeves. (Methinks Jesus himself had a thing or two to say about this, but apparently nowadays to be evangelical means to ignore that part.)

    But even if an all-powerful all-knowing being doesn't care if they win or lose, I bet ya the team's sponsors and owners sure as hell do. Lose every game and we'll see what happens.

    People don't get on these christians' cases for being christians. People mock them for being fake christians, for insisting it's all about the greater glory Jesus, when it's obviously not. They can pretend it's not. We don't have to. They get dissed for the hypocrisy, not the faith.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • EO

      Amen

      August 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  17. Dave3000

    Bible-Thumpers make me want to vomit...One just has to take note of how they vote and what politicians they support (Republicans of course)...They are against health-care, gun-control, and a host of other issues...They are anything but "God Like"...Although some are educated, they are capable of making sense out of life so they turn to the bible as their rule book and twist every verse to suit their selfish hypocritical behavior...They are infiltrating the government and are determined to turn America into a theocracy...Yet CNN has the nerve to make this a front page story

    August 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Albert

      I agree with you Dave to a point. THe people that you mention irk me too because being a Christian is more than voting against abortion. These same people support the death penalty. I apologize to you for their bad witness. There are some people that are Christians that actually try to live it out behind closed doors as well as in the open. The people "so-called" evangelicals only show you the surface which irks me to no end. They talk a good game but are not really representing Christ the way that the Bible calls for us to. I am sorry that you feel like you feel, but if you took that energy to try and know God, you could be one that makes a difference.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Albert: You said, "I am sorry that you feel like you feel, but if you took that energy to try and know God, you could be one that makes a difference."

      How do you know he hasn't? If god was that interested in us knowing him, I wonder why it has to take effort at all. Seems unfair at best, malevolent at worst.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      Make a difference in someone's life and help others because it in turn helps everyone. If you wish to believe in God as well, fine. There's no reason to bring faith into the concepts of charity or compassion by necessity.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Sciguy

      People that BibleThumpers make want to vomit make me want to throw up.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  18. stickyd

    I wonder if the Christian-bashing Liberals on this page will stand up and openly bash Muslims, Jews, Hindu's, etc...who also worship and believe in a God? Doubt it, you cowards will only attack Christians b/c you're weak and have no self-respect or morals. Good day, young chaps!

    August 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      Yeah, because I see sooo many Jews and Hindus leveraging a pro sports team to advance their spiritual agenda, and force their beliefs on others through "ministry."

      August 16, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      Nice try, but not true. I am an equal-opportunity basher of ignorance and stupidity in all its forms. I don't care who you are. I have no patience for stupidity, and praying to a magic man in the sky is stupidity.

      Please tell me why your omniscient god doesn't help the starving children in Somalia right now? Maybe a little rain? A little manna from heaven? Anything? Certainly this would be a simple task for him, no?

      Now go back to you cave and pray for a better argument so you can post again.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • stickyd

      are you really this stupid? I live in Charlotte, follow this team, and still had no idea they were a team made up solely of Christians. They aren't pushing their beliefs on any other teams or fans. There are thousands of teams made up strictly of Muslims and other religious sects that play in leagues throughout the U.S., yet CNN chooses to single out Christians and allow Liberals and Atheist like you to openly bash them. Grow a set and bash Muslims and others unless your too scared they'll blow you up! Coward!

      August 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • sam

      Gotta see a variation of this post every single time, right? It's like the old Far Side cartoon – "Blah blah blah, LIBERALS, blah blah JEWS MUSLIMS etc blah blah."

      August 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Albert

      it's not about pushing a "spiritual agenda". It is about doing what the Lord says which is to glorify him in all that you do. The bible says that whatever we do, we do it as unto the Lord. Again, I commend these people for exhibiting true Christian love and leadership. May God bless them.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      You're the idiot if you think that their "Community Service" doesn't include a healthy dose of "Jesus loves you." You don't think that's pushing an agenda? Get real.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Bob in LA

      I'm old enough to remember a time when we respected other beliefs. 12 years of Catholic school, additional religious study taught me a respect for all religions. however to address your comment- look at this from the other side.
      What if- today's American "Christians" stopped trying to force everyone to live by their beliefs? what if they actually practiced the teachings of Christ and not cherry picked from the old Testament to condemn and tell others how to live? Do you think there might be less Christian bashing going on? Maybe if- the Religions of the world stopped telling us how to think, how to vote, whom we can love and lived their own lives as they wish, there would be more tolerance and maybe even a little more respect. And I mean from both sides.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      no response to my questions, stick?

      August 16, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Dannemm

      Yeah, if any of these other groups were openingly pushing their beliefs on the rest of the country, which they are no!!

      August 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      Bob in LA: Great post. Well put.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Dave3000

      We don't bash because we don't believe in God...We bash because of the thing you lunatics do in the name of God...
      Norway comes to mind...Shooting doctors in the back comes to mind...and on and on...Your behavior and the politicians and issues you support make us bash you and you deserve it!

      August 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Whos Grace?

      Right, because CNN writes so many opinion pieces about Judaism, the Prophet Mohammed, and the inequalities of the Caste system for people to comment on...

      August 16, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  19. Jim

    The article never said that they didn't care about winning.

    Direct quote: "Our No. 1 goal is not winning games. Our goal is to bring glory to God.”

    They are saying that they will not judge their success based soley or primarily on the score of the games or on their record at the end of the season. Success will be judged based upon other criteria such as the way they conduct themselves or the way they live or play. What kind of teammate am I? What kind of friend/father/son, etc am I? These are the questions that they use to determine their success.

    Good for them.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      That's all good. But why do they feel the need to bring some god into it? shouldn't their positive conduct and treatment of fellow humans simply for the sake of being good to others be reason enough? how does this "bring glory to god"? That shti is just creepy. sorry.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • Jim

      They feel the need to bring some god into it because they believe in God (this isn't complicated).

      Being good to others is something they practice regularly (or at least aspire to). Does their motivation really matter to you that much? Being kind to others is a way of bringing glory to God. How? It brings glory to God because it is a reflection of his love for them.

      It may be creepy to you. I am totally cool with that. No need to apologize at all.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Bob in LA

      Totally agree with your statement. What is wrong is they are Christians- playing soccer- not Christian soccer players. There is no such game.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  20. ralphinator

    EVEN ATHEISTS ARE MENTIONED IN THE BIBLE AS FOOLS, HAHAHAHA THEY THINK THEIR CONCEPT IS SO NEW AND INTELLIGENT. THE BIBLE SPECIFICALLY CALLS YOU OUT AS FOOLS.

    August 16, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      how else to try to control the mindless sheep and the ignorant masses than to proactively call out those who may ventire to think for themselves and blow the whole christian fallacy! and you might pray for a new keyboard with a working caps lock button.

      August 16, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Troy

      IAtheism is not a new concept, nor does any atheist claim it is. What's different is that atheists can finally speak their mind freely; for centuries, expressing disbelief could get you tortured and/or killed in the "Christian" West. (As for atheism being "intelligent," I'll simply point out that there is a direct correlation between IQ and disbelief.)

      Anyway, atheism is technically the default position. No one is born with a belief in God–it must be taught to them by others, usually their parents.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • The Guy

      No way! The doctrine of a religion calls non-believers incorrect?! It all makes sense now!

      August 16, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • mtk

      You will notice however that the Bible never indicates that Caps Lock is cruise control for cool.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      I don't know about that, mtk. I'm almost sure I read something in Corinthians about putting away childish things and also using caps locks whenever I wanted to sound shrill. Well, mostly sure.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.