Blessed Are the Super Bowl Stars?

Like Russell Wilson, most believe God rewards faithful athletes.

A majority of Americans—53 percent—believe God rewards faithful athletes with good health and success, up last year’s 48 percent, according to a new study from Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

Confidence in God’s favor rose among every religious group but one. Growing numbers of minority Protestants (68%), Catholics (65%), mainline Protestants (44%), and the unaffiliated (27%) believe that God blesses Christian competitors. The only group whose numbers dipped: white evangelical Protestants, with 60 percent agreeing, down slightly from last year.

One of them is Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, who threw four interceptions before the Seahawks squeaked out a win against the Green Bay Packers to clinch their Super Bowl berth. “That’s God setting it up, to make it so dramatic, so rewarding, so special,” the Christian player told Sports Illustrated’s TheMMQB.com, later tweeting, “Yesterday wasn’t just about the game…. It was So Much Bigger than just a game.”

“I think God cares about football. I think God cares about everything he created,” Wilson said to reporters Tuesday. Fellow Christian QB Aaron Rodgers, of the Packers, disagreed. About 1 in 4 Americans believe that God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event, according to PRRI, compared to 19 percent in 2014.

For this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX, more viewers will start their day in church before watching Wilson and the ‘Hawks face the New England Patriots.

About a quarter of Americans say that on a typical Sunday they go to church and watch football, up from 21 percent last year. On the other hand, the number of those who are more likely …

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