Bible Belt football star is an atheist

Bible Belt football star is an atheist

One of America’s highest earning athletes, Arian Foster, above, has come out as an atheist.

According to this report, the running back for the Houston Texans has spent nearly his entire football career performing in the Bible belt.

Despite this and his therefore close relationships with many, many people of faith, Foster has decided to become something of a poster boy for the non-religious by joining forces with the non-profit group Openly Secular.

In an interview with the magazine ESPN, Foster said:

Everybody always says the same thing: You have to have faith. That’s my whole thing: Faith isn’t enough for me. For people who are struggling with that, they’re nervous about telling their families or afraid of the backlash … man, don’t be afraid to be you. I was, for years.

According to ESPN senior writer, Tim Keown:

A lot of it has to do with the way that Arian was brought up.

He was raised Muslim and has spent time learning from both the Koran and the Bible. But Foster credits his father, Carl Foster – “a free thinker” – with encouraging him to question conventions despite the fact that Carl was once a deeply religious man.

Todd Stiefel, chair of Openly Secular, commented:

This is unprecedented. He is the first active professional athlete, let alone star, to ever stand up in support of gaining respect for secular Americans.

Foster makes clear in the piece that he understands the sensitivity of the topic, especially considering he plays in Houston, which is home to deeply rooted Christian communities. But in the end, he feels he needs to be true to himself.

You don’t want to ruin endorsements. People might say, ‘I don’t want an atheist representing my team’. Now, though, I’m established in this league, and as I’m digging deeper into myself and my truth, just being me is more important than being sexy to Pepsi or whoever.

After a while, what’s an extra dollar compared to the freedom of being you? That’s the choice I made.

Foster says he simply wants to be free to believe what he believes.

If a loving, kind Christian, Muslim or Jewish person can’t accept a different vantage point, there’s just nothing I can do about it. I have no ill will toward religion or religious people. I have no quarrels. Believe what you want to believe.

A video (plus transcript) made by Foster for Openly Secular can be seen here.


NEWS JUST IN: Atheist blogger Niloy Neel, above, has been hacked to death by a gang armed with machetes in the capital Dhaka.

He is the fourth secularist blogger to have been killed this year by suspected Islamist militants in Bangladesh.

Imran H Sarkar, head of the Bangladesh Blogger and Activist Network, told the BBC that Neel had been an anti-extremist voice of reason.

He was the voice against fundamentalism and extremism and was even a voice for minority rights – especially women’s rights and the rights of indigenous people.

BBC World Service South Asia editor Charles Haviland says that, like previous victims, Neel was not only secular but atheist and, like two of the others, he was from a Hindu, not a Muslim, background.

Blogger Avijit Roy was murdered in February and in March, another blogger, Washiqur Rahman, was hacked to death in Dhaka. Then in May, secular blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was killed by masked men with machetes in Sylhet after he received death threats from Islamist extremists.

All four men killed were on a list of 84 “atheist bloggers” drawn up by Islamic groups in 2013 and widely circulated.

It was originally submitted to the government with the aim of having the bloggers arrested and tried for blasphemy.

The BBC’s Akbar Hossain in Dhaka says Neel had filed a police report expressing fear for his life, but his complaints had not been not followed up.

Police said about six attackers had tricked their way into Mr Neel’s home by saying they were looking to rent a flat.

Deputy police commissioner Muntashirul Islam said:

Two of them then took him to a room and then slaughtered him there. His wife was in the flat but she was confined to another room.

18 responses to “Bible Belt football star is an atheist”

  1. There is no god. says:

    Now this guy deserves deep respect from everyone. He has got mine for sure. I hope I am wrong but I expect there will be beleivers in positions of influence who will excercise their power, from the shadows, against him. The beleivers know they cannot prevail unless people like this, role model iconic figures, are discredited and marginalised. Top man Mr A Foster. Now all you other atheist public figures need to come out too. This man deserves rock solid backup.

  2. Broga says:

    Arian Foster seems intelligent, moderate and open minded. He also undoubtedly has moral courage as well as the physical courage you need to play his sport. However, as he has admitted not believing the Christian fairy tales the religious weevils will find him an irresistible target and gnaw at him.

    What a difference this intelligent decent man is compared to the posturing of the religious weirdos lining up to be the next Republican president. The USA insists on trashing itself by supporting these men.

  3. SallyinMI says:

    Good for him! I have much more respectful him than for Tebow and his prayer antics on the field. Frankly, it should not matter at all whether these players believe in the tooth fairy (and it wouldn’t, if people like Tebow didn’t think that thanking God for a TD was the way to fame and fortune…sorry Tim, but you need talent to play with the big boys, and God has nothing to do with it, or your proclivity toward playing instead of working hard.) Bravo…I hope more people are now at ease with their own beliefs and can support Foster for being a good man, an honest man, as well as a great athlete. Keep God in your heart, in your church, but off the schoolyards and playing fields of this country. Just like Jesus said…pray alone.

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    In the memory of Niloy Neel let us redouble our criticism of religion in general and Islam in particular. Islam, the most solvable human problem on earth today. At any moment it could vanish. Let us present them with reasons to abandon their evil superstition.

  5. Broga says:

    Meanwhile, at huge cost to the licence fee payers, St Aled is to appear with the mush known as “Songs of Praise” for the migrants at Calais. I wonder what BBC genius came up with that one.

  6. barriejohn says:

    Our friends in Saudi Arabia are agitating for global blasphemy laws again:

    Saudi Arabia has reiterated its call for a global blasphemy law, claiming that free speech leads to violations of “religious and ideological rights.”

    You couldn’t make it up!

  7. L.Long says:

    OK you bunch of loving MODERATE religious bangladeze show us how loving and moderate you are by actively condemning the killing!! Now show us how loving and TOLERANT you are by finding another atheist blogger and surround him with your bodies to protect him from the evil ones!!!
    Waiting….still waiting!

  8. jay says:

    barriejohn: The anti blasphemy threat is serious. The EU bureaucrats have forced a disastrous ‘right to be forgotten’ law on the internet which prevents Google and others even from linking searches to ‘forbidden’ references. Google lost that incredibly stupid case, and the problem is getting worse because now the EU is looking to demand that ALL references, regardless of where the servers sit, delete the information, with the threat of legal action against any company in EU who owns those servers. If this craziness succeeds, it’s only a short step to blockin any ‘illegal/blasphemous’ content globally by any nation with enough economic clout to threaten the web services.

    Imagine facebook etc having to globally block US sites because the content was offensive in Pakistan!

  9. There is no god. says:

    And here is the kind of shit that is excreted by Islamic scholars … Unless we are very careful we will not be able to be critical of this kind shite.

  10. There is no god. says:

    Jay …Pakistan is offensive. Time Facebook et al stopped islamic counties from accessing their servers. Primitive islamic retards should not be using such technology. If the want to abide by primitive dogma then why should they use technology that they could not develop for themselves, especially when they use this technology as a weapon. I say fuck them and keep social media out of their reach.

  11. asquith says:

    No thanks. How would people in Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. free themselves from 7th-century dogma if not by being exposed to rational thought? Think about Waleed al-Husseini, he’d still be suffering at the hands of the religion of peace if it hadn’t been for social media. And millions of others.

  12. AgentCormac says:

    That link to the football team prayers is fantastic – I hope the AHA takes every last cent taken from them if they carry on. And pardon me if I upset anybody here with my hetero persepctive, but that ‘christian prayer circle’ looks very, very gay to me. Just sayin’.

  13. dennis says:

    ist thread, I have been a Dallas fan since 1964 until today. Go Houston Go Foster. sorry to be so flippant a Dallas fan.

    2nd thread but a hell of lot more important. condolences to Niloy Neel and his family. you just felt more hackers would be out and about cutting their way to stupidity.

  14. barriejohn says:

    Jay: I sometimes think that we have already lost the war.

    AgentCormac: I am gay, and I have to say that when I was a Christian I often felt very uncomfortable about the amount of “bonding” that went on amongst the menfolk – some of it including a lot of physical contact – and when I was young I found some of it very questionable, though I do realize that some people are more demonstrative than others. Just saying.

  15. barriejohn says:

    I forgot about this one, highlighted on the NSS site recently:

    The law, passed by decree at the end of July, “prohibits any act that would be considered as insulting God, His prophets or apostles or holy books or houses of worship or graveyards.”

    The legislation purports to allow for an “environment of tolerance” and “broad-mindedness”, but includes potential 10 year jail terms and substantial fines for those who break the law.

    Provisions in the legislation include a prohibition on expressing doubt about the existence of God.

    Sounds a bit like our own EDOs!

  16. Stephen Mynett says:

    And more humanity from Iran:

    A quote from Mohammad-Javad Larijani, the head of Iran’s Human Rights Council: “Retaliation and punishment are beautiful and necessary things. It’s a form of protection for the individual and civil rights of the people in a society. The executioner or the person administering the sentence is in fact very much a defender of human rights. One can say that there is humanity in the act of retaliation.”

    You can see where Iftyshitforbrains gets his ideas.