Onward Christian Athletes

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Players pointing triumphantly to the heavens. Lavishly paid pro athletes proclaiming their Christianity in public every chance they get. Faith Nights at professional sports events. The hand of God proclaimed in every win streak. Pro sports teams are supposed to provide a civic rallying ground where fans of widely varying background and faiths come together. In Onward Christian Athletes, religion expert and commentator Tom Krattenmaker takes us behind the scenes of the conservative Christian movement to evangelize in the club house and enlist pro athletes to promote a specific brand of Christianity outside the mainstream of a religiously and politically diverse America.

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Editorial Reviews

Uppity Wisconsin
Tom Krattenmaker's new Onward Christian Athletes is a brilliant and much-needed investigative analysis for those viewing post-game, on-field prayer meetings as foolish displays of exclusionary, only-through-Christ silliness. . . . This is a book that many Americans, and many sportsfans, have been waiting for and Krattenmaker has performed a public service in his rigorous and often funny investigation of something everyone sees in sports and then lets go by like a Miller Lite commercial. . . . Thank you Tom Krattenmaker!
In this fascinating book, Krattenmaker maintains that 'spontaneous' displays of faith on or off the playing field (including team prayer huddles) are not so spontaneous at all, that they’re part of a concerted effort on the part of a 'network of evangelical chaplains and sports ministry organizations' to join Christianity—in particular the Christian Right—with pro sports. The author makes a persuasive argument that athletes are encouraged, sometimes even cajoled or pressured, to make public statements of faith, and that being a pro athlete can mean committing to becoming a spokesman on behalf of Christianity (and, by extension, a supporter of the Christian Right’s political agenda). Yet this isn’t an attack on religion in sports; the book argues its case but does so in a largely balanced manner. Expect both book and author to attract criticism and controversy from many on the Right; Krattenmaker won’t mind; he’s all in favor of a spirited debate.
Bill's 'Faith Matters' Weblog
This is a remarkably interesting read.
Krattenmaker has a keen awareness and knowledge of conservative evangelical Christianity, which promotes a particular brand of faith in all the major professional sports. This is a creative treatment of a serious problem in sport and society more broadly. Highly recommended.
Between The Lines
An incisive, example-filled look at the often overlooked, seldom-examined ways in which sports and faith converge.
Marcus Borg
With the skill of a journalist and the diligence of a researcher, Krattenmaker makes a persuasive and compelling case that conservative Christian groups have a virtual religious monopoly in professional sports—and that there signs of change. Remarkably fair and readable, insightful and important for anybody interested in either Christianity or sports.
Dave Zirin
I have been waiting for someone to write this book for years, and Krattenmaker does not disappoint, Onward Christian Athletes fills the gap in our understanding of the way religion and religious organization shapes the players and the teams we follow. Anyone serious about understanding 21st century sport needs to read this book.
Randall Balmer
Onward Christian Athletes is compelling, judicious, prophetic—and deeply disturbing. This is a superb book.
Kevin Palau
Tom Krattenmaker—in my opinion—is one of the most informed and relevant writers on the Evangelical movement today. His critique is fair and his knowledge is impressive.
Crosswalk.Com Blogs - Albert Mohler
Tom Krattenmaker leveled a comprehensive critique of the evangelical Christian message that, as he laments, permeates so much of the sporting world at both the college and professional levels. Krattenmaker correctly traces evangelical influence in sports to the 'muscular Christianity' movement so popular in America between the Civil War and World War II. He expresses appreciation for the moral influence of evangelical Christians and Christian conviction within the lives of athletes. Nevertheless, he is clearly alarmed by evangelical displays of the Gospel.
Between the Lines
An incisive, example-filled look at the often overlooked, seldom-examined ways in which sports and faith converge.
Between the Lines
An incisive, example-filled look at the often overlooked, seldom-examined ways in which sports and faith converge.
Krattenmaker has a keen awareness and knowledge of conservative evangelical Christianity, which promotes a particular brand of faith in all the major professional sports. This is a creative treatment of a serious problem in sport and society more broadly. Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742562479
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Tom Krattenmaker is a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors and a frequent contributor to its weekly On Religion series. His work has also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, and Salon. He resides in Portland, Oregon.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Chapter 1: On Any Justice Sunday: Evengelicals, Pro Sports, and the (Conservative) Campaign for Jesus Chapter 3 Chapter 2: A Cross on the Logo: Representing for God in the High-Drama, High-Profile World of Major League Sports Chapter 4 Chapter 3: Faith Coach: Discipling Athletes for a Roster Spot on God's Team Chapter 5 Chapter 4: Winning for Jesus (But Finding Him in the Loss Column): The Tricky Relationship between Evangelism and Sports Success Chapter 6 Chapter 5: Church at the Ballpark: Baseball Chapel and its Exclusive Theology in an Age of Growing Religious Diversity Chapter 7 Chapter 6: From Coors Field to Eternity: Faith Days in Major League Baseball Chapter 8 Chapter 7: For God, Country, and the Republican party: The Conservative Politics of Jesus' Pro Sports Warriors Chapter 9 Chapter 8: Domesticated Christianity: The Political Acquiescence of African American Christians in Sports Chapter 10 Chapter 9: A Match Made in Heaven—or Hell: The Dissonance between the Values of Jesus and the Values of Big-Time Sports Chapter 11 Chapter 10: The Salvation of Sports: "Getting it Right" in an Emerging New Era of Faith in Sports Chapter 12 Index Chapter 13 About the Author

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