I’ve always found it interesting to see how MMA and religion interact with each other. At first blush you might think that Christianity and people beating each other up might not fit all that well together. But then again you’d think Christians would be all about making sure everyone has access to health care. So in these topsy turvy times, it makes a certain amount of fucked up sense that there’s so much religious fervor in the world of mixed martial arts.
You’ve got Matt Hughes giving out bibles on TUF, Rich Franklin cutting the ribbon at a creationist museum, God talking to Rampage through his car stereo, Jesus Didn’t Tap, Fight4Christ, and tons of other examples where religion touches the sport. We mentioned a while ago that some churches were getting into the sport, but now it’s become a big enough story that the New York Times is covering it:
Recruitment efforts at the churches, which are predominantly white, involve fight night television viewing parties and lecture series that use ultimate fighting to explain how Christ fought for what he believed in. Other ministers go further, hosting or participating in live events.
The goal, these pastors say, is to inject some machismo into their ministries — and into the image of Jesus — in the hope of making Christianity more appealing. “Compassion and love — we agree with all that stuff, too,” said Brandon Beals, 37, the lead pastor at Canyon Creek Church outside of Seattle. “But what led me to find Christ was that Jesus was a fighter.”
The outreach is part of a larger and more longstanding effort on the part of some ministers who fear that their churches have become too feminized, promoting kindness and compassion at the expense of strength and responsibility.
“The man should be the overall leader of the household,” said Ryan Dobson, 39, a pastor and fan of mixed martial arts who is the son of James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, a prominent evangelical group. “We’ve raised a generation of little boys.”
That’s a bit of a dumb generalization, but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised considering this guy’s ties. Focus on the Family is the group that’s currently set to air a commercial during the Superbowl encouraging women with life threatening pregnancies not to abort because their babies might grow up to be hot shit quarterbacks. Sigh.
Anyways, while it’s easy to laugh at the obvious irony of promoting Jesus at an event called ‘Cage Assault’, I don’t find it all that strange that you’re seeing a growing religious presence in the sport. Evangelical Christianity is all about saving as many souls as you can through the power of Jesus Christ, so if there’s a bunch of hellbound people in the MMA scene, then that’s the perfect place to go and hang out.
Ignoring the implication that we’re sinners in dire need of saving, I can actually kinda dig their attitude. Fuck just sticking to the churches … it’s very Jesus to go out amongst the sketchy rabble to spread the word. It’s just too bad there’s so much extra baggage attached to religion nowadays. You know, all the child molesting, gay hate, anti-science insanity, anti-condoms in Africa insanity, aforementioned lollypop land views on abortion, and so on.