If you’re a member of the otherworldly sub-culture – an avid follower of baseball – than you might have noticed something a little unusual about the Robert Pattinson saga. The “Belle” actor has been a fixture in the baseball world for years, taking the time regularly to attend games and often tagging along with his friends, the Williamsons. It’s been a labor of love for him, and he’s frequently been spotted cheering on his favorite team, the Seattle Mariners, from the stands.
But over the past year or so, something has changed. Perhaps it’s the influence of his wife, actress Elizabeth Taylor Kennedy, or the arrival of their children, but lately he’s been seen less at baseball games and more at soccer matches. Naturally, this has led to speculation that he may have finally jumped on the other side of the pond and accepted Jesus as his personal savior.
A Life-Changing Decision
It’s no secret that sports and religion don’t mix. Plenty of professional athletes have found themselves in trouble over the years for their views on spirituality. In 1925, Joe Jackson became the first professional athlete to publicly acknowledge his conversion to Christianity, and today many believe that he played a crucial role in bringing the religion to the masses. Jackson’s grandson, Joe Jack, says that his great-grandfather was heavily involved in the Billy Graham crusade in the 1950s, which helped to convert many ballplayers to Christianity. But it’s not just about following in family footsteps. Many professional athletes have been attracted to fundamental Christiandom because of its emphasis on faith, family, and individual responsibility. Some have even credited it with raising their game.
Jackie Robinson was a Christian who integrated Major League Baseball in 1947, and throughout his life he made it a point to spread his religious beliefs. After retiring from baseball, he served as a pastor, minister, and social action activist. In 1992, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his efforts.
A Changing Attitude
But while baseball may still be a Christian sport, the way that it’s played and the people who participate in it have changed. The growth of fundamental Christiandom among athletes hasn’t just impacted the outcome of games – it’s shaped the culture, too. In the past, professional athletes would often be spotted in churchyards after games, thanking God for their good luck and vowing to play better next time. Today, players are less likely to openly acknowledge their religious beliefs while on the field, and instead they’ll often turn to social media to share their faith with the world. If they’re not tweeting about their love for God and country, they’ll be posting about their latest meal or their endorsements. It’s a culture shift, sure, but not one that has disappeared. Instead, it’s just evolved.
The Real Reason For The Change
It might be that the reason behind Robert Pattinson’s sudden interest in soccer, rather than baseball or hockey, is somewhat more mundane. The “WaterforLove” singer has been spotted regularly at Manchester United games over the past year, and his wife has followed suit, supporting Arsenal and the England women’s national soccer team. Like many soccer fans, the singer has been inspired by the English Premier League’s recent domination of major sports – the 2017/18 season was the first time in history that a soccer team won a record-breaking five Premier League titles in a row.
But it’s not just about sports. Like many dedicated Christians, the singer has been influenced by the moral messages that he sees in the Bible, particularly in relation to materialism and the influence of money in sport. As David Benetti notes in an article for Christianity Today, “The idea that a person’s value is measured by their wealth, rather than their character, seems contrary to what Jesus preached.” It’s a sentiment that Pattinson likely shares. In an interview with Rolling Stone in May 2018, he said, “The more you realize that sport is a microcosm for life, the more it makes sense that it should be a part of your spiritual journey.”
The Bottom Line
For those who love the theater, the celebrity, and the glamour of Hollywood, the Robert Pattinson news may come as a bit of a shock. But for those who follow the teachings of Jesus and enjoy the simplicity of a spiritual life, it’s probably an indication that they should start paying more attention to the religion that they profess. After all, as Pattinson says, “sport is a microcosm for life.”