Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has never been afraid to voice his opinions. The Super Bowl winner, two-time MVP, eight-time Pro Bowl selection and “king of the hail mary” is looked at as a god in Wisconsin as he’ll undoubtedly end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At this point, he can pretty much say and do what he wants without repercussion.
In 2017, he locked arms with teammates during the national anthem to denounce racial injustice and police brutality, an NFL movement that began with Colin Kaepernick. Rodgers also blasted his receivers for a “piss poor” effort in training camp before the 2018 season. Rarely do you hear Rodgers speak about his religious views, though.
In an interview on former professional race car driver and NASCAR star Danica Patrick’s Pretty Intense podcast, Rodgers discussed a number of topics, including his spiritual beliefs.
Speaking to his girlfriend, Rodgers had some very critical words about Christianity and religion as a whole. They begin around the 3:30 mark of the video below.
Aaron Rodgers Interview on Religion
“I don’t think it’s very welcoming — religion can be a crutch. It can be something that people have to have to make themselves feel better. And because it’s sort of binary, it’s us and them. It’s saved and unsaved. It’s heaven and hell. It’s enlightened and heathen. It’s holy and righteous and sinner and filthy. I think that makes a lot of people feel better about themselves. They say, ‘Oh, I’ve got Jesus and I’m saved and I’m going to heaven and there’s only 144,000 of us going even though there’s seven billion people on the planet. I don’t know how you can believe in a god who wants to condemn most of the planet to a fiery hell. Like what type of loving, sensitive, omnipresent, omnipotent being wants to condemn most of his beautiful creation to a fiery hell at the end of all this?”
— Aaron Rodgers
Born in Chico, California, Rodgers was raised a Christian by his parents, Darla and Edward. He said he was forced to attend church growing up and took part in YoungLife, a religious organization for youth. He began questioning religion as he grew older, however.
While the Packers QB has learned about religions and even met the Dalai Lama, he confirmed to Patrick he wasn’t religious at all.
“Ultimately, it was that rules and regulations and binary systems don’t really resonate with me,” he said in the interview.
Rodgers’ views probably don’t affect how Packers fans see their star signal caller. After all, he won a Super Bowl under coach Mike McCarthy and led the Packers to a 12-4 record and the NFL playoffs under first-year head coach Matt LaFleur in 2019 despite losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game.
When he’s not completing touchdowns to Davante Adams and torching NFC North opponents like the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field, he’s (barely) chugging beer at Milwaukee Bucks games or making cameos in Game of Thrones.
Still, it’s interesting to hear Rodgers’ thoughts on Christianity and religion when many athletes are quick to thank god in postgame interviews and athletes like Tim Tebow gained fame and notoriety for living at the opposite end of the spectrum.
UPDATE (January 23, 2020): An insider close to Rodgers’ family told People that his comments were “basically a slap in the face to the fundamentals of who they are. It’s basically him turning his back on everything they have taught him.”
People points out that Rodgers has been estranged from his family for years. The family insider added, “They have these times where things start to thaw out, but then something like this happens, and then it’s back to square one. It’s sad.”
Other Athletes Who’ve Condemned Religion
Former professional cyclist and testicular cancer survivor Lance Armstrong is agnostic, which means he doesn’t know whether a god exists. According to The Guardian, he was once asked how his belief in God helped him overcome cancer.
His response: “Everyone should believe in something, and I believe in surgery, chemotherapy and my doctors.”
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin
Professional wrestler and actor Steve Austin once sold shirts that read “Austin 3:16” as a nod to the bible verse “John 3:16.” He also slammed churches in the defense of same sex marriage, and did not hold back whatsoever.
“What also chaps my a**, some of these churches, have the high horse that they get on and say ‘we as a church do not believe in that.’ Which one of these motherf*****s talked to God, and God said that same-sex marriage was a no-can-do?” Austin said via Deadspin.
“OK, so two cats can’t get married if they want to get married, but then a guy can go murder 14 people, molest five kids, then go to f***ing prison, and accept God and He’s going to let him into heaven? After the fact that he did all that s***? See that’s all horses*** to me, that don’t jive with me.”
Former NFL running back Arian Foster openly talked about being an atheist while playing for the Houston Texans. In an ESPN article, he questioned the existence of a god.
“If there is a God and he’s watching football, there are so many other things he could be doing,” he said. “There are hungry children and diseases and famine and so much important stuff going on in the world, and he’s really blessed your team? It’s just weird to me.”
Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has said he is “cheerfully agnostic” and voiced support for same sex marriage while playing in the NFL before being cut. He’s tweeted about the “lack of transparency and endemic institutional corruption of the Catholic Church” among other things.
This article was originally published January 22, 2020.