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
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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 • Faith • Sports

soundoff (741 Responses)
  1. Larry

    if god can influence the outcome of a game, I wonder if she gambles ?
    Will this prevent her from entering the god hall of fame for bad behavior if she does ?

    January 29, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  2. Truth Hoarder

    God does not influence all sporting events, just the ones of which he is a fan. True story. It's in the Bible.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  3. 21k

    "hmmm, i know i didn't stop hitler, even though i created him and the entire universe, but i do like that ray lewis guy. he really bounced back from that manslaughter charge!"

    January 29, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  4. heliocracy

    This clears up another question, being "what percentage of people in each region of the country is hopelessly stupid?" Now we know it's 36% in the South, 28% in the Midwest, 20% in the Northeast and 15% in the West.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Will

      But interestingly, 64% of Southern folks, a solid majority, rejected the notion the God picks the winner. There's hope for humanity yet, I tell you...

      January 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  5. Jordan

    how can you report a story for deletion?

    January 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  6. lionlylamb


    January 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  7. Fernando

    Not sure I even believe this stat, but if it's anything close to accurate, I question whether we should be practicing democracy in this country. This clinging to their christian god and their guns is going to spell the end of US world dominance. We need an agnostic president next go-around. One mention of Christ or any other fantasy figure should be political suicide in the future.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • ¿¿lol


      January 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • 21k

      face it, what we really need an atheist dictator for about 10 years.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      I do dare doubt there are enough atheist secularists to even make a dent in the voters who are now being sliced up by Latino and Muslim hordes while atheists and secularists are choosing abortive measures thereby lowering their ongoing generations into the minus of population growth rates.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Loser, did you know that statistics show that women who have an abortion usually go on to have just as many children as they'd planned to have.

      Abortion isn't decreasing the population, you addled old fart.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Tommie girlie,

      If what you wrote can be taken seriously, then their plans related to abortion 'practices' leads to death rates outside the nurturing of naturalized abortiveness issues. You seem to fail upon seeing the whole picture regarding Latinos and Muslims who do not favor abortive 'practices' unlike the blacks and white skinned creatures who are the ones losing their domination of racial percentages issues. Maybe it is a good thing that the whites and black races be of fewer numbers and Latinos and Muslims increase their racial domination.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No matter how much manure you spew, Loser, the fact remains: women who have an abortion go on to have the number of children they had planned to have anyway.

      You lose.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's nice you learned how to post videos, though, Lucy Loser. At least doing so cuts down on the amount of blather you post.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The only reason you oppose abortion, Loser, is that you imagine it will deprive you of your SS check.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Tommie girlie child,

      Can you say with sincerity that abortion 'practices' have no influence on natural child birth rates? Your 'pick-N-choose' referencing of child birth issues via abortive non-naturalized issues leaves the pot halfway to 3/4 empty and nowhere near full enough to keep up with the onslaughts of overflowing birth issues within Latino and Muslim breeders. You just don't get it do you? I really could care less what the world cultures will look like in ten or twenty years from now! Your children's children will have to deal with racial issues and a rising Muslim population.

      January 29, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
  8. kevin

    Just shows you how stupid people can be

    January 29, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
  9. Jazzsinger55

    When a 5-year-old gets cancer, and parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and neighbors all pray for a cure – without result – is it because God is mean? Uncaring? Indifferent? But God answers the prayers of sports fans? This makes no sense at all to me.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  10. Danny

    27% of American are morons.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • dack maddy

      Exactly what I thought!

      January 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • are122

      Faith has a place in everything done. Faith often determines who is successful and who fails. I would truly doubt the isn't some faith in every winner...if they had no faith they wouldn't even try. Reading your comment I would say the number of morons far exceeds 27%.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  11. RichardSRussell

    27% of Americans are certifiable fruitcakes.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  12. Danny

    Michael Jordan wasn't exactly a saint. But he was probably the winningest.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • Fernando

      Maybe God is no saint, either.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  13. Hal C

    What do people think "Taking the lords name in vain" really means? It means pulling a Tebow and thinking God takes your side in your little vanities.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
    • Those who believe in a god...

      Well said!

      January 29, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  14. craig

    Somehow I doubt that God has time for sporting events if he (she) can't be bothered with things like Newtown, Columbine, and the like. This "belief" is just to make you feel better, because God is the ultimate excuse for everything. It's about time people started thinking for themselves and understanding that the choices THEY make determine the outcomes, not some handy imaginary friend.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • kevin


      January 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • pray

      god is the easy way out. Requires no logic or thought. .. stupid is.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
    • Jordan


      January 29, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
  15. pray

    guess god will help a wide receiver make a catch for a touch down, while letting children die of starvation. Interesting god these christians have.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • Jordan

      when bad things happen, it's "god's will (or) god's plan" but when good things happen, the hard working people who MADE it happen are overshadowed by the notion that it was god who did that.

      I agree, christian\muslim books are 98% the same. they're both terrible groups

      January 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  16. Domine

    27% of Americans are stupid.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • pray

      christian/muslim , all the same.. screwballs

      January 29, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  17. Jordan

    If god influences sporting events, what determines who 'God' is rooting for? The number of christians on the team? The message of the prayer before the game? What about the owners? How much money has the team owners donated to charity? I'm SURE that influences God.
    Give me a break, 27% of Americans would say lead based paint being toxic is a lie or conspiracy.
    Delete this piece of crap off CNN.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • maggie


      January 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
  18. Hal C

    I went bowling last week. God really screwed up and we got a 136.

    Does Satan help with bowling?

    January 29, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
  19. Plato

    I think that nakedness is something that should be respected....I mean if the blacks can do it, then gays too

    January 29, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  20. keplerfan

    I'm glad God takes a side in the super bowl!!! Not only do the beer commercials and half naked chicks rock my world but now no one can blame me for missing church on super bowl sunday!!!! Way to go God!!!!!

    January 29, 2013 at 8:03 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.