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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. rt

    Fear of death = Religion
    Fear of Life = Republican

    August 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • nown

      fear of working for a living = Democrat

      August 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • rt

      Democrat or Reppublican = Black or White brain

      August 16, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • J.W

      I am a democrat and I work for a living.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • nown

      @JW
      I'm a Republican and I'm alive. What's your point?

      August 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Dave3000

      nown...Thank you for demonstrating why America can't stand you Bible-Thumpers...You all support the Republican agenda which does nothing for the average American and hate Democrats and Liberals who happen to be far more "God Like" in their compassion for others then you hypocrites who give God a bad name!

      August 16, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • nown

      Who said anything about Bibles?
      I have little respect for them or the thumpers thereof, but at the same time I have little respect for those who want everyone 'taken care of'. Liberty comes at a cost and it's not necessarily fighting in trenches, but may in fact require a payment in the form of personal responsibility.

      August 16, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  2. Eris Esoteric

    I've just got to point out that the majority of halfway decent comments from atheists/agnostics are going unreplied-to, while the "faithful" are going after the ignorant posters.

    I'm not anti/pro religion, but I see the same arguments on both sides: "God did it!" "No he didn't!" "Yuh-huh!" "Nuh-uh!"

    I have no problem with anyone believing anything, but to be sure, I am not a Christian because I got tired of hearing (at multiple congregations and different denominations, no less) how we should pity those that have different beliefs and we should try to point out the error of their ways.

    I have had numerous people randomly come up to me (several times at my place of work) and tell me how I was going to Hell because they didn't see me in church that Sunday. Oddly enough, if I had been in church, I wouldn't have been there to make their standard after-church cup of coffee. Of course, that logic escaped them.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • MomOf3

      Eris, actually, I was thinking exactly the same thing about the obviously religious posts that weren't obnoxious...they are going un-answered and un-appreciated! It's a shame that people on both sides seem to like to pick a fight. I don't like to pick fight's, but I'm having a really hard time walking away from some... 🙂 Have a good one!

      August 16, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Eris Esoteric

      MomOf3: I do believe that that is the single most civil, well spoken thing I have read all day. 🙂

      August 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • Jon

      Logic never applies to the faithful and that is the problem.

      August 16, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  3. QS

    "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."

    This is exactly the type of inane double-talk from religious people that makes me giggle!

    "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."

    Why not just teach people to play fair...because it's good sportsmanship, not because it gives glory to god?

    Why not just teach impoverished children soccer to bring some happiness into their lives, not to covertly trick them into coming to your church?

    This is why nothing religious people do is ever 100% altruistic – there's always an ulterior motive involved to get others to believe as they do rather than simply doing good for people and leaving them be within their own beliefs. If faith works for you as an individual, great....just don't make the same mistake many others inevitably do and think that because it works for you it must also work for everybody else!

    August 16, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • ralphinator

      Well I think it could be said that they want to help people and then show them what they believe they also want others to experience the happiness that they feel inside. I don't think their goal is to trick them into conformity, but rather help them and show them the love, grace, and happiness that they feel, in which case, that is altruistic.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • QS

      "I don't think their goal is to trick them into conformity, but rather help them and show them the love, grace, and happiness that they feel, in which case, that is altruistic."

      They can help them and show them love without trying to, as you put it, trick them into conformity. They can also do so without even mentioning their beliefs at all. Helping for the sake of helping, rather than helping to better your chances of getting into "heaven".

      I understand your approach, I just disagree that religious people are able to do as you say while separating their sense of obligation to their beliefs which dictates to them they should "spread the word".

      August 16, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  4. ralphinator

    Atheists lead a sad, ugly life. There words to the contrary don't make me think otherwise, in fact, they only confirm that they do. Every atheist I know in my life is rather sad and pretty hostile. They hate everything good while thinking that they are somehow the most moral people on this planet.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      Even if your own observations are honest and accurate, and I have my doubts, you must realize that extending those traits to all atheists is fallacious, yes?

      August 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • ralphinator

      @another – Yes ofcourse that is a sweeping statement that does not hold true to everyone, however I was trying to provide a general analysis. Nobody of any particular group fits into one select mold.

      My apologies as I should've prefaced it with; "Although not everyone, my observations have been that...."

      August 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • QS

      "while thinking that they are somehow the most moral people on this planet."

      This is actually a false perception reserved specifically for willfully blind religious people who believe that to be a good person you MUST believe in a god...even if it's not the god you would prefer we believe in, but that we believe SOMETHING in order to be decent people.

      If Atheists seem hostile to you, it could be because many of us are completely over trying to pander to peoples' precious religious beliefs and have decided to simply stop putting on a polite front when faced with religious indoctrination.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      You should probably also know that throwing around words like "atheist" are as useless as throwing around words like "Christians" in this case. If you put 20 different atheists (or Christians) in a room, you'll come up with all sorts of different ideas about what it really means to be atheist–or Christian.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Colin

      Ralphinator- having attended the AGM of the American Humanists in Boston last Spring, I can assure you that most atheists are smart, copassionate people. We tend to share 90% of the same basic morality Christians do (don't steal, don't kill etc.) and to the extent there is a general difference, it is that atheists, in my experience, tend to be more liberal towards, for example, $exual minorities.

      We just don't buy into the supernatural aspects of Christianity – life after death, the existence of a god etc.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • ralphinator

      @QS – I was merely stating my observations of real world atheists that I consider friends. And FYI, I don't preach to them about anything, in fact I dont even bring up religion or my beliefs unless they specifically ask. I try to be a good friend to them and show them compassion, even if they don't return the favor.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • ralphinator

      @Colin – thanks for the input. I have no problem with $exual minorites, and most churches don't preach any sort of hatred towards them. The problem arises when 99% of megachurches don't really teach true Christian messages, but instead teach selfish doctrines (often to the gullible and uneducated) to enrich themselves. Unfortunately this is what most non-believers think Christians represent, when in reality, it is quite far from the true message of Christianity.

      And don't take this as me preaching because I'm not trying to change anybody's mind, just stating some of my observations.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Vestram Liberate Mentem

      @ralphinator
      You should get out more and meet more of us. We're funny! We're some wild and crazy guys! Hug an Atheist today!

      I'm serious despite my somewhat flippant remarks. I can only really speak for myself but I think I'm pretty swell.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • QS

      "and most churches don't preach any sort of hatred towards them."

      Gotta totally disagree with you here. The main reason that gay people are still viewed the way they are in this country and world is due to the stigma that religion perpetuates about it.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • ralphinator

      @Vestram – LOL, will do my friend. We all make flipant remarks here or there, and tbh, cnn comments is mostly full of trolls just wanting to get reactions out of people anyways. I've made a few myself :p

      August 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @ralphinator

      Re: "Atheists lead a sad, ugly life. There words to the contrary don't make me think otherwise, in fact, they only confirm that they do. Every atheist I know in my life is rather sad and pretty hostile. They hate everything good while thinking that they are somehow the most moral people on this planet." and "I was merely stating my observations of real world atheists that I consider friends."

      Such nice (backstabbing!) things to say about your friends! I'm happy to not be your friend and hope your friends discover what a poor friend your are.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • ralphinator

      @hotair – yes you are so correct, you know my whole life and how I've treated those friends perfectly. If only I was as smart as you.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      I only know what you wrote and I obviously don't consider what you wrote to be friendly.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  5. mmstrahan

    This is wonderful!God has to do with everything, even sports! I am sorry for all of you that are so cynical!

    August 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  6. Vestram Liberate Mentem

    I'm waiting for the all god squad comedy troupe. It's gonna be a hoot.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  7. Kronk

    An article that is refreshingly positive and apolitical. So glad to hear about this team and their goals as a team and for their communities. Even more glad they don't think God helps them win or lose, but instead wants to focus on their character and faith. Keep it up, Eagles. I'm a fan!

    August 16, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  8. Kenrick Benjamin

    HotAIirAce i ask What is Science?

    August 16, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • BRC

      I know you asked someone else, but I hate to see a question go unanswered.

      Word can have many definitions, but the basic definition for science is knowledge (probably taken from the latin sciente- of the same definition). In common use it refers to fields of academia or professions that attempt to identify an define the rules that govern behavior of objects, matter, energy, and lifeforms within the observable universe (which does not disqualify more fringe sciences which are of the belief that there are other universes or realities we simply can't observe yet).

      August 16, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  9. Anotheralt

    By combing faith-based ritual with a sporting event, they're essentially turning their faith into theater. If I had purchased a ticket for such an event and didn't realize what it was about at the time, I would be a little annoyed. The players are confused if they think the games are about just them. They're more confused if they think that other faiths don't hold the same values that they do to the extent that they feel the need to preach (however modestly) during a sporting event.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • steelerguin

      I don't get your point. You buy a ticket, go to a game and watch the Eagles play soccer. Maybe, you notice they don't dive or commit cheap fouls. Not a word is spoken by any player to you but all of a sudden you are upset because you felt you've been preached to? wow.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      If I hear a prayer over the speakers, yeah I'm being preached to. Or are you going to say that doesn't happen?

      August 16, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • steelerguin

      Where in the article does it say there was prayer over the loudspeaker? Maybe I missed it. They did say a chapel service was held in the locker room. Doubt that was open to the public.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      People who have been to the games have posted on here saying as much. You're welcome to read them if you wish.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  10. Dave3000

    You see this all the time...If you disagree with a Bible Thumper you are a Liberal...The truth is Liberals are compassionate and tolerant of others...things that truly are "God Like"... The problem America has with Bible Thumpers are their positions on issues like health-care, gun-control... their distaste for those on public assistance, etc... We can't take Bible Thumpers seriously because of their hypocritical behavior and when we see them equate a simple fun game of soccer to God, we shake our heads and think you are total lunatics... I have nothing against religion, just those that claim to be religious but are a pint short of compassion...and sadly that seems to be the super majority of people who like to think of themselves as Evangelicos.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  11. Richard

    I think Hoffman is offbase. He openly said that Greek and Roman games were massively corrupt, violent, evil. But if not for religion, what morally moderating force would exist for these atheletes today? Self-control? He obviously doesn't appreciate testosterone's effects.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  12. Kenrick Benjamin

    Peace2All What is Science? have you study Theology, until you do, don't make statements about what you don't know.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Given that there are no gods – not even just one – theology is just a bunch of people sitting around discussing the rules to the biggest fantasy role playing game on the planet, with heavy emphasis on fantasy.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Kenrick Benjamin

      God... what is it with you people (typically 'believers') and the refusal to use the 'reply' button to keep a conversation within the appropriate thread of discussion, so everyone can understand the context and content of the discussion...? Our original discussion was what... 1, 2 pages ago...?

      'Please' 'use' the 'reply' button in the future. To make random responses somewhere else is really not helpful nor useful for discussion.

      As to your original posting, you had made the comment that "Theology" has proven that God exists. Theology hasn't 'proven' that God exists, nor has anyone "proven" that God exists, unless there is some claim somewhere that I don't know about...?

      As for your claim of 'Theology' being science, which is really a secondary assertion in relationship to your primary assertion that "Theology" has proven 'God's existence, I say this. I don't believe "Theology" to be a true science in the way we think of "science, mostly because a science, or a scientific inquiry, does not presuppose a source for answers. While in Physics (or whatever) we do have a hypothesis, this is what we are trying to prove or disprove. With Theology, the answer will inevitably not contradict either 1) religious teachings or 2) the existence of God. So, it cannot be a science because things cannot be disproved.

      Theology basically 'already' starts out with the given conclusion that "God exists"... the theology part is about hashing out the particulars and characteristics of God.

      Not real 'scientific', yes...?

      Regards,

      Peace...

      August 16, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • come on man

      @ Peace
      Do you think that presuppositions are the sole possession of the theist? Do you not realize that all humans have basic assumptions including the scientific community. ex: like the existence of absolute Truth and the rational intelligibility of the universe.

      You do realize that science was birth out of an assumption of a transcendent creator. It's always interesting how people conveniently forget that!

      August 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • MomOf3

      Please illuminate! How was science 'birthed' out the the assumption of a transcendent creator?

      August 16, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @come on man,
      "... [presuppositions] like the existence of absolute Truth and the rational intelligibility of the universe."
      First, I don't think science, in general, makes claims about "absolute Truth" (especially not with a capital 'T'). Second, a rationally intelligible universe is supported by the evidence, not presuppositions. In other words, if letting go of a ball in mid-air sometimes resulted in it floating and sometimes resulted in it dropping, then we might want to question its rationality.

      Science can be traced back to Aristotle and beyond. Modern science is generally traced to the Renaissance in the late middle ages.

      August 16, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  13. Hawa23

    They have people convinced you need religion to conduct yourself morally, & gladly take your money like that money is going to God. The church tide thing is another thing hilarious to me. That money is going into someone's pocket or buying someone a new car or home, but I doubt God is seeing any of that money. I was raised to be good law abiding, tax paying citizen, I don't need religion, which has probably resulted in the most deaths in history to tell me how I need to act as a person. You throw religion in front of mostly anything, & there are people you can make alot of money off of, but I am not bashing, believe in whatever you need to to get through the nights.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  14. Peace2All

    I can understand this soccer teams desire to use the medium of sports to work on and enhance their 'character.'

    What I really don't understand is this incessant need to 'give glory to God' for developing those 'character traits' like "fairness," "kindness," etc... that are traits that anyone can work on, ' without ' having to give credit to a God or Deity...? Also, realizing that these 'character traits' didn't just pop into existence when Jesus allegedly walked the earth. Many people of antiquity, long before Jesus in society, strove to be better people... without a Deity or the Christian God version in particular.

    Add to it, apparently, this seems to be yet another 'marketing' tool to try and spread the 'word of God,' when in reality... it's just a bunch of guys using the medium of a sport to develop and express certain society-based 'honorable' and worth-while character traits and behaviors.

    No... God or Jesus is needed for one to work on one's self or to demonstrate these societally acceptable character qualities and traits.

    I just don't understand this, I mean more power to them to work on themselves, but 'no need' for a God to be involved to act in honorable ways. (IMHO).

    Am I missing something here...?

    Peace...

    August 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Marc

      John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
      John 1:14 (KJV) And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.

      Respectfully, Christ was there at the beginning. He didn't just "pop" up. The Bible also states that the law of God is written on the hearts of men. We didn't design our own morality.

      Giving Glory to God in soccer is a noble idea, because the Lord your God commands that you place no idols before him. How many people of the world would rather spend the sunday worshipping athletes in stadiums, rather than worshipping the living God of creation in Church?
      Through their ministry, the are showing the compromise between enjoying a sport, but not placing it on a pedestal. "Wow, that athlete is amazing. He took the ball and sprinted 100 yards. He won the game. Let me buy a t-shirt with his number and name. Let me decorate my car with team-logos. Let me spend sundays watching him perform."

      What happened at the cross was world changing. Even if someone doesn't believe in the divinity of Jesus, we need to recognize how stupid idol worship really is.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Marc

      Your bible quotations and all of the rest of your assertions are just more 'circular arguments,' with no basis in reality.

      They are based on your biblical 'self-sealing' notions.

      Basically, your response to my posting is..." God did it " and " we need to give God credit " in a nut shell.

      Well, I respect your right to 'believe' as you wish.

      Peace...

      August 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • come on man

      @ Peace
      I think the issue here is essentially is the reality of God's existence. You work from the premise that God does not exist ( I'm assuming) Christians work from the premise that he does exist. So the conclusions will be different

      In reality atheist can be very good people, there is just no rational way atheist can justify why we should be good. Morality becomes relative and self driven, but what happens when someone thinks what you call good is actually evil. You have no legitimate basis to say they are wrong.

      I do think it is interesting that you disagree with this article as if it is somehow wrong, but then why should we listen to you as if moral truth is dependent on how you see things? I mean it's just your opinion, who cares!

      You say we don't need God to be good, if God does not exist how do you determine what is good?

      August 16, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • J.W

      No matter what we believe, we all generally have the same values and what is best for the society that we live in. Although I am a Christian, I dont do nice things for people just because God wants me to do it, but because it is the right thing to do. I dont just sit there all day and think "what does God want me to be doing right now". I dont really feel the need to profess my beliefs to others. I think that when people that know I am a Christian see that I am a good person they will see the bright side of Christianity, as opposed to what we see on tv.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • BRC

      @come on man,
      There are some issues with your assertion. I think the biggest one, is that you have misappropriated the word rational. A person who does not follow the direction of a deity is the ONLY one who can give a rational justification of what is morally right or wrong; because each and every action they take is considered, personally weighed and evaluated, and then taken. A person with no gods takes full responsibility for their own actions, so what they believe is right or wrong, had to worked out. If they are a mentally stable, normal person, they probably did this with the most rational process they were capable of.

      On the other hand, if you take your morality from scripture- you can't provide any rational for how or why you acted. You were told it was right, so you did it. Now, I have to doubt that people really blindly follow their text of choice, because of the way our minds work we are going to think for ourselves and act, so the scripture is more likely to be used as a justification or an explanation for a person's actions; but even then there was no rational thought involved.

      The best test I've come up with so far is this (which no one ever answers): If a voice came to you, either in a holy form or in your head, and said to you "I am your God, and I wish to know the depth of your faith. Take your fist born, and sacrifice him unto me, the method may be of your choice, but do it before the sun rises tomorrow." How would you respond? Would you take it on faith? Would you seek help? Would you try to think out the situation?

      August 16, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @come on man

      " @ Peace... I think the issue here is essentially is the reality of God's existence. You work from the premise that God does not exist ( I'm assuming) Christians work from the premise that he does exist. So the conclusions will be different. "

      The discussion was in regards to Theology having *proven* that God exists, and then again, hashing out the details of this said God.

      To start out with a 'premise' which is 'unquestioned' i.e. "God exists" is ridiculous, especially when you say it is *proven already.* Science isn't out to 'prove' or 'disprove' for that matter the idea or concept of a God, it goes with the empirical, verifiable, repeatable data, which then not only predicts, but draws useful conclusions.

      There is -0- *proof* that God exists, as far as I know...'scientifically.' Starting from that position that God is a 'given' now let's discuss and debate what it is again, is not science. At least as I understand science.

      " In reality atheist can be very good people, there is just no rational way atheist can justify why we should be good. Morality becomes relative and self driven, but what happens when someone thinks what you call good is actually evil. You have no legitimate basis to say they are wrong. "

      No 'rational' way that atheists can justify morality...? So, "God did it" is 'rational'...? You believers seem to think that without "God" you'd all be out killing people, or something. No legitimate basis, to claim something is right or wrong...? Really...? So, again we have "God did it" as a legitimate claim.

      " I do think it is interesting that you disagree with this article as if it is somehow wrong, but then why should we listen to you as if moral truth is dependent on how you see things? I mean it's just your opinion, who cares! "

      I am just stating in my opinion that people can and are good and do good things and have honorable character, 'without' having to 'give glory' to a God that may not even exist. Being 'good' for 'goods' sake, is good enough for me.

      And everything 'you' state is 'just your opinion' ... who cares, why should anyone listen to you...? Obviously, that is part of the point of discussion and discourse.

      " You say we don't need God to be good, if God does not exist how do you determine what is good? "

      Are you kidding me with that question...? You already stated that 'atheists' can and do act morally.

      BTW- I'm not an 'atheist' or at least an 'atheist' as you would consider it.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      August 16, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  15. Funky One

    Wow! That's a big leap everyone, you get gun control, theocracy, republicans, and infiltrating the government out of Christian guys playing soccer! They are trying to spread their God's gospel through sports. That's what the article said, that's it, they're not trying to take over the government or bring back the old days when the church ruled the town. Good lord freaks what happen to tolerance?! By the way democrats or liberals can be Christians too.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • ralphinator

      Yes, welcome to the atheists mantra: "We are so tolerant and the smartest people on this earth. We are right, that's what we believe and there's no changing our minds. If you don't agree with us than you are the lowest form of life on this earth."

      August 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Dave3000

      Funky one..There is nothing freaky about what I am saying...They use soccer to promote God and I am simply using this ridiculous article as a forum to make people aware of their agenda...America is tired of it...We are tired of the the economy and lack of jobs and the destruction of the middle-class etc... Everyone knows the christian right fully supports the Republican economic model. The so-called Evangelicos waste America's time with abortion and gay marriage and CNN waste even more time with a home page article about lunatics playing soccer for "The glory of God"...get with the program!

      August 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  16. Mike

    The team I support, Richmond, has competed with the Eagles since both teams were created in 1993. The Eagles are (usually) pure class on and off the field. I have no problem with that they do. Its their thing and thats cool. Everybody needs his or her or their own thing. I admit the first time I went to a game in Charlotte and they started it with a prayer over the loud speaker I was a bit.. put out, although thats not 100% the correct word for it. I just had the feeling that I was there for a soccer game not a church service, but one they whistle blew, it was an actual game. And having been down to Charlotte for games several times since then, that was the only time I"ve encountered they ever started a game like that. It's completely none of my business, but I feel they'd draw more if they toned down the religious aspect some but that's not what they're there for and honestly, it's none of my business. They have their own thing and they do it well. And good for them.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  17. Kass

    This is the answer. Almost every human culture has produced some version of the saying, "A man is a God in embryo," and it's true. However, the astral template also can program the soul to act as a sovereign individual, which is why there are free spirits as well as Theocrats. The extension of this influence to living people creates the desire for freedom and individu­ality on Earth as well.

    On the structural level, a God is simply an adult Elemental, a huge colony of astral souls that lives in deep space and absorbs the astral energy radiated by certain stars.
    The universe is cyclical. It really doesn't have a beginning or an end. The Big Bang theory, which most of your scientists now accept as proven, is valid; but it's just one component of a Steady State theory that operates on a larger scale. There is another Parallel Part of the universe that is contracting toward a Big Crunch, at the point where/when Earth astronomers observe evidence of the Big Bang. That part of the universe is composed of antimatter and time flows backwards there.

    In other words, over the course of time, a Theocratic band develops its own astral soul and astral mind that is the equivalent of the composite astral mind of a bee or ant colony

    August 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • HamsterDancer

      Obviously, you are into Magick (with a k). That's cool. You give a different kind of perspective on the subject than the usual Christian vs. Atheists comments that pop on this type of article.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  18. M.A.

    Some do many others do not....corporations would be wise to put souls before goals that aren't representative life.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  19. James

    So the goal is to perpetually inflate the ego of an invisible old man that lives somewhere in the sky by playing a child's game really good? Even though said old man doesn't care, but...if you ask him to help you win and the other team takes it, does that mean the old man hates you?

    Really, I think it's time for the human race to just grow up already...

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

      Yeah, you're right. Teaching kids basic manners and respect for their opponents and the game of soccer iout of their ministry is not only crazy, it's probably dangerous. Maybe those kids will actually grow up to have manners and respect others. That really would be terrible.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      Right Steeler, because you need to be Christian to have manners and respect. I must have forgotten. Ridiculous.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • steelerguin

      Anotheralt, once again you miss the point. My response to James isn't saying those characteristics are only for Christians. It is a response to what is written in this piece and his bashing of Christianity. The article clearly says what the goal is for the Eagles regarding their inner city ministry. James is basically saying it is childish. I disagree. Don't let you hatred of Christianity blind you from what people are actually writing.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Anotheralt

      You assume I "hate" Christianity with no support to back you up. Unsurprising. I think you're the one missing the point. The goal of "saving a soul" is inherently flawed because you're already pushing a belief on someone else. It assumes that someone who isn't Christian needs saving. It seems to be a flaw of arrogance on the part of many Christians that they *know* the Truth and need to share with everyone through conversion, and that's what ministry is about, in part. It's kind of offensive, despite another other positive results.

      August 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • J.W

      I think if you refer to God as a bearded man in the sky that makes you look ignorant.

      August 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • NOo..oON

      @J.W
      "I think if you refer to God as a bearded man in the sky that makes you look ignorant."
      You mean like the one on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel?

      August 16, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  20. Richard

    Wouldn't you know it would be in my home town. I guess it's not about paying to watch then.

    August 16, 2011 at 1:24 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.