Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been making headlines and raising eyebrows over his latest comments surrounding religion. Rodgers opened up about his Christian background and leaving the faith on Danica Patrick’s podcast.
The quarterback explained that while he was once heavily involved in Christianity, particularly a ministry called Young Life, he started to have doubts about the fundamentals of his faith as he grew older. And the idea of church felt more ritualistic than it felt like a house to cultivate a relationship with Jesus.
“Most people that I knew, church was just… you just had to go,” he recalled.
He also felt that the Bible was not to be taken literally. “The Bible opens with a poem,” he said in a 2017 ESPN Magazine profile. “It’s a beautiful piece of work, but it was never meant to be interpreted as I think some churches do.”
One of the Super Bowl XLV champion’s biggest questions involved the idea of eternal punishment in hell. “I don’t know how you can believe in a God who wants to condemn most of the planet to a fiery hell,” says Rodgers in the 5-minute clip with Patrick. That particular quote has made its rounds on social media, most notably after making the front page of Reddit and being shared by The Caring Atheist’s Twitter account.
American Quarterback & Superbowl winner Aaron Rodgers has left Christianity.
“I don’t know how you can believe in a God who wants to condemn most of the planet to a fiery hell”.
Fact: All religions who have a “hell” have it of course to scare people to follow the religion.
— The Caring Atheist (@Caring_Atheist) January 21, 2020
After spending time learning about other types of religions and even meeting the Dalai Lama, Rodgers has expanded his notion of what it means to ‘believe.’ He now considers ‘spirituality’ to be a much better path for him.
Though Rodgers did not go as far as to call himself an atheist, he did conclude that religion can be divisive in the interview with Patrick.
“Religion can be a crutch, it can be something that people have to have to make themselves feel better,” he explained. “Because it’s set up binary, it’s us and them, saved and unsaved, heaven and hell, it’s enlightened and heathen, it’s holy and righteous…that makes a lot of people feel better about themselves.”
The comments made about religion upset his already estranged family. The NFL star reportedly has not really talked to his family since 2014, though details surrounding the reason are unclear.
“They were dismayed,” an inside source told PEOPLE. “The family is very dedicated to their Christian faith.”
“His comments are very hurtful to the family,” the insider added, while explaining they “still [love] Aaron very much. They have these times where things start to thaw out, but then something like this happens, and then it’s back to square one. It’s sad.”
“To them, his comments are basically a slap in the face to the fundamentals of who they are. It’s basically him turning his back on everything they have taught him.”