As millions of viewers tune in to watch this years Super Bowl match between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, there will undoubtedly be those on both sides of the field who will not only cheer on their favorite, but who will pray for a victory over the opposing team. The Super Bowl, one of the most anticipated and widely watched sporting events in our nation, has always revolved around competition among players and fans, but in recent years it has become a competitive backdrop for another type of battle, the battle over religious belief. This year, directly across from Met Life Stadium, where the two teams will face off, a large billboard has been erected encouraging game patrons not to waste their time with prayer.
Advertisements bordering on the mundane, hilarious, intriguing and even ridiculous are nothing new to the Super Bowl, but this particular posting (paid for by The American Atheists) goes a bit farther than most by seemingly mocking the Christian faith and its values in order to promote the Atheist belief. Though this is not the first time that a religious message has been promoted during a Super Bowl, it does appear to be a first for ridicule or mockery of another groups belief on such a grand scale.
The question many are asking is whether or not the message goes too far. After all, in a society that seemingly promotes acceptance of anyone and everyone’s ideals, beliefs, lifestyles, and choices, why is it that Christians seem to be the target of so much ridicule and hatred?
By and large, most people watching this years Super Bowl will probably not see the billboard or its message, and those attending in person will undoubtedly have their thoughts on the game and not even notice it, but that does little to change the fact that what it is attempting to do is dissuade people from their personal beliefs and promote division at a time when our country has already suffered enough division among its citizens. Trying to promote and share ones beliefs is one thing, but attacking another persons, or mocking them in order to be heard, is nothing short of bullying.
In an American Atheists press release, David Silverman, the groups President said, “Prayer is superstition, plain and simple. It’s 2014; it’s time to stop believing that prayer works. Give credit where credit is due and celebrate what this is really about—coming together to cheer on hard-working athletes doing what they do best.”
The idea of an athletes hard work, training, and skill being responsible for his or her abilities is without a doubt true, but Christian believers might argue that the opportunities and skills that the athletes have and develop were given them by God. A great number of professional athletes admit to having faith in God and praying before, during, and even after games to ask for protection, ability, and to offer thanks. So what is wrong with this? If a person believes such to be true, why does the idea of prayer and thanksgiving seem to frighten or anger some people? Shouldn’t a person be able to practice their belief without fear of persecution, mockery, or other forms of abuse?
From a Christian standpoint, I will say that I do believe in the power of prayer. I have seen first hand what prayer can do, not just on a physical level, but emotionally as well. Even many Psychiatrists and doctors tell us that having a strong spiritual faith in God can help keep us mentally fit and emotionally stable. I cannot imagine going through life with nothing more to believe in than myself, because I am far from perfect. My belief in God and my faith in Jesus Christ is unshakable and it is something that cannot be taken from me. It’s unfortunate that events like the Super Bowl, events that are meant to be fun and exciting for our nation, are often places where some choose to inject their hatred and fear. I hope that all in attendance, and those watching around the world, truly enjoy the game. God bless America, and may God bless you dear reader.
“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”
– Matthew 21:22 (KJV)