Why Did the Detroit Lions Have a Good Month?

Back in November, members of the New Destiny Baptist Church in Detroit came together for an important prayer:

They will then travel to Ford Field, link hands and surround the stadium with a human chain of souls seeking intercession on behalf of the once-proud Lions.

They were praying for the success of the football team.

I wrote at the time:

You know, at some point, the Lions will probably have a winning season again. It won’t be this year. But all teams eventually start doing well. And that’s when (I’m sure) these Christians will step in to take the credit.

To paraphrase: Christians will take credit for shit they had nothing to do with — possibly the least surprising prediction anyone’s ever made.

But it came true sooner than I thought!

First, a quick stroll down the timeline.

The prayer happened on Thursday, November 25th.

The Lions lost later that day, 24-45, to the New England Patriots.

The following week, the Lions lost again. This time, 20-24, to the Chicago Bears. (You’re welcome for that.) At that point, their record was 2-10.

And then, they ended the season with four consecutive wins — all by a touchdown or less, against only one team that ended up in the playoffs.

The Lions ended the season with a 6-10 record — Nothing to be proud of… though I suppose it’s better than their previous season records of 2-14 (2009) and 0-16 (2008).

So who’s taking credit for the team’s “success”?

Rev. Horace L. Sheffield, III, pastor of that church…. of course:

“In the aftermath of the Lions’ loss on Thanksgiving Day, and one other subsequent one, many people chided us and ridiculed us suggesting that our prayers went unanswered and were simply in vain. Apparently, based on four victories in a row they were answered, just not immediately. Actually this delay in time between our prayers and His answer is actually were [sic] faith abides. We like to minimize the amount of time between wish and fulfillment. Sometimes God makes us wait. And what I’ve learned from this is that God’s delay is not always His denial. And faith provides with the means of patience as we wait for the reward and the answer to be manifested. All I have to say is — who’s laughing now -– Prayer DOES Changes Things –- and it has even changed the Lions. Therefore, we should never dismiss the power of prayer. Since it helped the Lions maybe we should start paying for Detroit’s failing 911 system and for more jobs for the unemployed.

This was a win-win for the pastor, though. Had the Lions lost all their games, god’s wish would have simply been fulfilled in a future season, right?

The man’s still a laughingstock if he thinks his prayers were the reason the team won. It’s amazing to me that he still has a loyal congregation.

But now that the Lions are almost at a break-even record, I suppose Sheffield can now move on to his 2nd and 3rd priorities: the 911 system and unemployment.

(Thanks to Larry for the link!)

  • http://www.santiagosmagic.com Tim

    Only question I have is how much money did he have riding on the Lions?

  • Steve

    As a Brit, I find this kind of thing unintenionally hilarious, prayer does absolutely nothing!! The Lions are obviously a bad team, no amount of useless prayer is going to help them, maybe a new coach? Also as a Brit, I will never understand gridiron!! Proper football is played with eleven on each team, in 90 minutes, give or take injury or extra time!! Yes,it’s called soccer in the good ol’ U.S. of A., at least the rules are simple even if I still don’t understand the offside rule! Oh, by the way, some professional clubs have chaplains!! Not quite going the way of American sport but getting there!!

  • http://theehtheist.blogspot.com The “Eh”theist

    Beyond the irony of christians praying for successful Lions, there is an opportunity here.

    Just like boobquake, someone should take the pastor up on his offer, after showing him the story of elijah and the prophets of baal. Challenge him to pray and have god provide specific results that can be measured just like elijah did.

    If he takes the challenge, the odds are better than even that he’ll lose so promote it, and if he declines, he’s demonstrating he doesn’t believe the bible so promote that as well. Either way, it’s a win-win for the area’s secular community.

    Oh, and if they pray and things get better? Then the secular community enjoys better 911 and more jobs, while pointing out that even the best scientific tests have outliers and asking for a follow-up. ;)

  • gary

    I would like to see a blog written about prayer and the futility of it. This part of the christian faith to me is the one of the most ridiculous parts. Ok i get the part where you pray to god to thank him for the things “he” has provided for you but its the other prayers like the one for the Lions. If god has a plan for everything and everybody the prayers to help the lions were pointless. So it is kinda arrogant to ask the almighty to go against his will. If the lions never got any better, the preachers response would have been, it must have been against gods will.

  • Doug

    As an ardent Detroit Lions fan (we do exist!), I can safely say that since I became an atheist the Lions organization fired that pretentious fool Matt Millen and the incomprehensibly clueless Rod Marinelli and brought in people who actually know a thing or two about assembling a football team. This all culminated with the first 4 game winning streak in ten years. Erego, the Lions are better because I stopped praying for them. We should NEVER dismiss the power of atheism, it really works miracles.

    Suck it Reverend.

  • Bob

    This is no different than the media predicting doom and gloom for Apple.

    1. Predict doom and gloom.

    2. If it happens, you’ve clearly got your fingers on the pulse of the industry, so everything else you have an opinion about should be treated accordingly.

    3. If it doesn’t happen, opine that it’s just a matter of time.

    4. If the opposite happens, claim that you’re pleasantly surprised. Ignore the fact that your opinion clearly has no grounding in reality.

    For the pastor, just substitute the appropriate references.

  • http://www.patrickoden.com Patrick Oden

    My first reaction was:
    But now that the Lions are almost at a break-even record, I suppose Sheffield can now move on to his 2nd and 3rd priorities: the 911 system and unemployment.
    WTF? Praying for a sports team is more important than these?

    Also, if the Lions didn’t start winning again until 2032, they probably still would have taken credit b/c of their prayers. If anything happens, ever, even remotely seemingly in response to a prayer, then prayer must’ve done it.

  • George Gauthier

    They are a bunch of bad sports as well as a bunch of idiots.

    Don’t these folks realize that they are essentially asking God to fix the game in favor of the Lions? Why do they think their deity would be that unsportsmanlike? Sure his believers are cheats, but why do they think God approves and will help them and not the other team just because they ask for it.

  • Digitus Impudicus

    If there is something I do not understand more than religion, it is sports fandom. I understand why people are religious, I just think they are silly. I do not understand at all why someone would put so much energy into watching someone else play a game as it has always been about the more boring activity I have ever participated in, but apparently people put tons of money and time into it.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Patrick Oden: Seriously. Hey, Pastor Asshat – if you really think prayer works, shouldn’t you pray for shit that matters first?

  • Richard P.

    I guess jesus must be their quarterback now.
    I would have thought he would be doing better. I don’t think he’s putting his all into the game.

  • Detroit Atheists

    Dear Pastor Moron,

    Detroit has far worse problems then our shitty football team.

    Remember when your church supported Kwamye?

    signed, Detroit Atheists (It’s easy not to believe in god here)

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    I live in Michigan. The Lions are an embarrassment and so is Detroit.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FJoRxT6B5g

  • http://www.fineartlampscapes.com Crodley

    Quote: “I guess jesus must be their quarterback now.
    I would have thought he would be doing better. I don’t think he’s putting his all into the game.”

    Jesus was injured early on in the season, the backup QB, Moses, was playing most of that time until he also was injured. At that time a few games were played by the 3rd string QB, L. Ron Hubbard.

  • Richard Wade

    It would be great if all religionists had Rev. Sheffield’s priorities. Get them out of the waiting rooms of Senators’ and Congressmen’s offices, off of the waiting lists for city council invocations, off of the school boards, away from the sidewalks in front of family planning clinics, and let them do something really useful and important, helping their teams win while linked hand to hand around their local sports arena.

    Sheffield could also gain tremendous credibility for the power of prayer if he had his flock gather atop a hill each night around 4AM and pray for the sun to come up. He’d have a triumph to crow about every 24 hours.

    (cue rooster sound: er-erer-erERRRRR!)

  • Patrick

    What about people who prayed for the other teams to win? There must have been some. Be interesting to get them all together, to hash out who’s side g-d is really on.

  • heironymous

    To be honest, they didn’t start winning until after they were eliminated from the playoffs. Net Effect: Worse Draft pick.

  • http://skepticat.blogspot.com/ Skepticat

    I’m laughing. In fact, I’m laughing my ass off. He would have gotten the same results if he had prayed to the Milk Jug.

  • Erin

    “…maybe we should start paying for Detroit’s failing 911 system and for more jobs for the unemployed.’”

    This is how the quote is presented on the original site as well. I’m sure it’s a typo, but I think the pastor might actually be on to something here.

  • http://chandays.blogspot.com Larry Meredith

    I prayed to FSM to bring me a plate of speghetti one day. He didn’t do it that Monday, or the following Tuesday, Wednesday, Thurday or Friday, but on what my mother deems “Speghetti Saturday” FSM fulfilled my prayer.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    God so loves Detroit that he gave Aaron Rogers a concussion, and yet can lower the unemployment rate below 20%? What a pisser.

  • http://www.anthonyrmiller.com Tony

    We now know it takes approx 3 weeks for prayers to be ansewred. Now we only need to determine the speed at which prayer travels and then we can calculate the distance from Earth to heaven.

    This also shows that last minute prayers are a waste of time due to prayer travel time (PTT). I think it’s safe to assume death bed conversions are a waste too.

  • beckster

    After the season my Denver Broncos just had I am willing to try pretty much anything.

  • bigjohn756

    I suggest that they upgrade their connection to heaven to DSL to get faster results.

  • STM

    If it takes weeks, I’m not sure praying for the 911 system is the best policy… even cable companies can promise service within a 12-hour timeframe… I guess omnipotence has its limits?

  • Jennifer

    Maybe Rev. Horace L. Sheffield, III, could get his group together and save Borders.

  • Richard Wade

    Tony, to calculate the distance to heaven we also have to determine if the answer to a prayer has a travel time as well, or if it’s instantaneous across distances. For example, if the incoming intercessory influence travels as fast as the outgoing prayer, three weeks is the time for a round trip, not just one way. That means the distance estimated just by the outgoing prayer has to be divided in half.

    Then there’s the possibility of needing time for He Who Is Cosmically Busy to find it in His in-box, to think about it, and then there’s processing, shipping and handling.

    With all that possible delay, it could be that the Throne of the Divine Mail Order Service isn’t in deep space somewhere beyond the heliopause, but in a big warehouse on the outskirts of Newark, New Jersey.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    i’ve partied in Detroit a lot. the music is very good there, as is the dancing.

  • Sam

    Let us bow our heads in thanks for these mediocre results, indistinguishable from regression towards the mean. 

  • DA

    I love stuff like this because it means every time the Karen Armstrong/Terry Eagleton type merchants of confusion say that we’re attacking a strawman version of religion and ignoring the sophisticated theology that people REALLY believe in, I don’t have to dig too deep for a rebuttal.

  • http://www.youratheistneighbor.blogspot.com keystothekid

    “But now that the Lions are almost at a break-even record, I suppose Sheffield can now move on to his 2nd and 3rd priorities: the 911 system and unemployment.”

    That might be the sharpest thing I’ve ever seen you write, Hemant! So excellent.

  • Silent Service

    The idiots praying to Dog that their team will win do not realize how selfish they are. They are also praying for the other team to fail or worse, be seriously injured even if they don’t realize it. The reverend isn’t just a selfish, egotistical asshat, he’s an evil, selfish and egotistical asshat.

    I just love morally upstanding Christtards.

  • Matt

    What happens if two equally “devout” men pray to god for their team to win at exactly the same time? Who wins? Does the universe implode?

  • ImmortalityLTD

    As someone who grew up in a house full of Lions fans, I can guarantee that people shouting “Jesus Christ” has no effect on the outcome of their games.

  • Phil

    I’m from Michigan so it was only a matter of time for the law of averages to show it’s ugly head. It was just a matter of time! TIME, there’s the rub. Certain events caused this to happen…getting rid of Matt Millen was the main reason.

    On a personal level, as a theist, if I’m merely to face a blank Atheistic denial of God’s existence, my task would he comparatively a light one. Formal dogmatic Atheism is self-refuting, and has never de facto won the reasoned assent of any considerable number of men or women, and never will! It takes too much faith to believe your theory for the formation of “now”…that the universe “popped” into existence from nothing, then to believe my theory. Ever since Immanuel Kant wrote his Critique of Pure Reason, it has been common for the so-called “thinking” people to insist that it is impossible to prove the existence of God. In fact this claim has been elevated to the level of dogma in American intellectual culture. I have not argued that it is logically impossible that the universe popped into existence from nothing without cause. I have argued that it is more reasonable to hold that it has a cause and that this cause is a non-physical personal agent — God. For me, It is obvious, logical and rational, that nothing can cause itself to come into existence. Anything that causes itself to come into existence has to exist before it exists.

  • Dyer1maker

    God must be real I pray for the Packers and look at their 8-0 record. The omnipotent being we call god just hates Obama getting his dumb ass, and every American Citizens’, involved in the failing car industry, ill take a bail out please. Also the Lions good start this year is easily attributed to a very easy schedule.


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