Culture / Sports / World Magazine / May 27, 2015

Christians Love Their Athletes Loud and Proud

From my latest article for

Stephen Curry is the biggest star in the NBA playoffs not named LeBron James. He won the league’s MVP award for the first time, broke his own record for 3-pointers made in a season, and made enough highlight-reel moves for the Golden State Warriors to make up a week’s worth of SportsCenter Top 10s. He is the NBA’s best shooter and has improved his all-around game every season since entering the league in 2009, a true marketable superstar. The cherry on this sundae is that Stephen Curry also happens to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ.

Think about that for a moment: One of the NBA’s premier young stars on one of the most entertaining and best teams is a faithful Christian, yet somehow he actually avoids the religious spotlight. Lesser players in his sport and others draw raving mobs of fans and even get their own branded crazes like “Linsanity” and “Tebowmania.” Why? What makes Christians go bonkers over backups but not a real, actual star?

We like our celebrity Christians loud and proud, preaching and posing. We want Christian icons, not just faithful stars. Their profession puts them on a stage and we expect them to play their part. Included in this expectation seems to be the tacit belief that the right way to be a famous Christian in a secular field is to offer bold declarations and public prayers. Those are the merit badges of faith. Anything less just isn’t quite good enough. We want people who look like larger-than-life Christians so that we can boldly claim them for “our team.”

This kind of thinking overlooks a handful of important truths.

Being loud doesn’t validate one person’s faith more than another.

. . .

Celebrities do not validate Christianity.

. . .

Public displays of Christianity play on our sinful tendency to judge others.

. . .

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