When Mixed Martial Arts Meets the Bible

Fight Church: A documentary about… um… when Jesus beat up the bad guys:

Related: Last year, a man died in an unsanctioned boxing match sponsored by an Oklahoma church. The same church gives out weekly awards for the high school football player who has the biggest hit of the game. For Jesus.

(via Christian Nightmares)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://www.theaunicornist.com Mike D

    I don’t think GUTS has fully recovered from the PR fallout of that incident. ‘Course, I haven’t been in a decade and half or so…

  • Bo Tait

    It’s sport. Its not that big a deal. Athletes use religion to build motivation all the time. I don’t really see a problem. 

    Other than having kids fight, that is. I don’t care if the kids wants it more than anything. They are not equipped to make a decision that could affect their mental development for the rest of their lives. 

    Keeps kids’ heads out of sport. 

    • Stev84

      If they like some sport then they should just do the sport. No problem. But there is no reason to append “for Jesus” to every damn activity and pretend that any random thing can be a genuine religious act.

    • Info Fredericksburgmartialarts

       Yes  stev84, sports is must for kids.

  • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

    Hee hee.  I still have my “Beating the Hell Out of the Devil” t-shirt from an MMA seminar in Carbondale.  The class wasn’t religious at all, but one of the instructors is a pro fighter/trainer from the early days of PRIDE/latter days of the old UFC era, and also a pastor in his free time.

    It features an angel in a high mount on a devil, left hand on his throat and right drawn back for a bit of the old ground-and-pound-and-pray.

    Jesus might not have been big on fighting (at least, not unarmed) but his dad wrestled Jacob for an entire night, thus proving that wrestling is both superior to, and older than, BJJ.

    • Bo Tait

      Haha of course they wrestled all night. They were wrestling. And everyone knows wrestlers dont know how to finish. If he knew how to throw a triangle and crack the arm Jacob would have tapped like Chael.

      BJJ4EVA

  • BrentSTL

    Not sure if this is the church in the trailer, but from a 2009 St. Louis Post-Dispatch story about a similar church in Arnold, MO: 
    http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/the-preacher-in-the-ring-with-an-easter-brawl-a/article_8f388a89-e01d-5597-8a7a-22a82bff8942.html

    Pseudo-”churches” and a pseudo-”sport”. Yeah, makes plenty of sense.

  • Drew M.

    I really need to find my copy of Dead Alive.

    (Warning – mildly graphic zombie fighting)
    http://youtu.be/ajLfYIHEqzk

  • Justin Miyundees

    THE most ridiculous premise I’ve ever seen. And tax exempt I’m sure. Bring on porn for Jeebus….

    • TheAnalogKid

      With their star “Jesus Fucking Christ”.

    • http://profiles.google.com/davydd.norris David Philip Norris

      “I want Jesus deep inside of me…” (Anyone remember that uber creepy “Jesus is my friend” video that was going around for a while?)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=34408484 Krystal Cox

    It’s people like this that make (non religious) dedicated martial artists shake their heads and sigh. Martial arts is a practice and way of life that has no place in christianity. 

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    He has man boobs.

  • Tinker

    It’s not violent at all? Is my definition of violence that far out of touch?

  • Tinker

    …”It’s a battle out there, the enemy is trying to seek and destroy us…”

    Paranoid much?

  • Don

    Hemant Mehta is a legend.

    • Don

      …to clarify, that’s LEGEND (awesome guy) as opposed to the mythical sense.

  • Kevin

    Similar silliness:  http://www.karateforchrist.com/

  • ortcutt

     I have to wonder whether this has something to do with evangelical Christianity’s obsession with “family values” and masculine gender roles.  I didn’t see any women boxing here.

    Normal secular society increasingly finds these masculine gender cliches to be tired and outdated, but that change scares the crap out of evangelicals who want to maintain those fading gender roles at all costs.  Hence, church-sponsored boxing matches. 

    • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

      Oh, it is absolutely about masculinity and gender roles. Many of these MMA events are marketed as events exclusively for men. I don’t know if Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill church is entirely to blame (I doubt it), but he has been preaching a “manly” Calvinistic version of Christianity for quite some time, and dudes just cannot get enough of it. I’d never heard of Christian fight-nights until Driscoll, and now it seems I see it everywhere I go.

      It’s like that Maria Bamford quote (paraphrasing from memory): “Jesus always turned the other cheek…long enough to open up another can o’ whoopass!”

      • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

        Perhaps they’re having trouble distinguishing between “Judeo Christian” and “Judo Christian”

    • http://profiles.google.com/davydd.norris David Philip Norris

      It has EVERYTHING to do with gender roles, and males are feeling increasingly marginalized in the church. They’re desperately clinging on to the chauvinistic gender hierarchy that they get from their Bible (“for Adam was formed first, then Eve”), but it’s rendering them useless as society evolves and grows and the church does not.

  • stiller13

    lol hemant i guess you have no way of changig that but the ads on your site are almost exclusively mormon:-P “im a mormon” shit etc

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      I do not. Those are run by Patheos.

    • Tainda

      Funny you mention that…

      My daughter and I were reading a story here the other day and she glanced at the banner and thought it said “I’m a Moron”  I said “same thing”  We had a good laugh.

  • Marco Conti

    Well, leave me in the cage long enough and I may convert. 

  • Nick

    That guy needs to train more, drop the man boobs.

  • NickDB

    And here I was of the opinion that Martial arts were about discipline,
    self-control, learning how to peacefully avoid confrontation and only as an
    absolutely last resort to turn to violence, and not about loving fighting and showing how good you are at it.

    • T-Rex

      “And here I was of the opinion that Martial arts were about discipline,self-control, learning how to peacefully avoid confrontation and only as anabsolutely last resort to turn to violence, and not about loving fighting and showing how good you are at it.”

      Certain martial arts maybe, but this is M(ixed)MA and the object is to beat the shit out of the other guy until he goes unconcious, taps out or the ref stops it. There is a big difference.

      • Stumpy

         MMA is a sport.   The object is to win within the framework which is an integration of Boxing, Wrestling and Jiu Jitsu.   There’s lots of honour, camaraderie, discipline and self control – I know because I’ve trained in it for many years.   It also has its downsides, its dickheads, its wannabe tough-guys and an unhealthy degree of god-bothering.   But its a great sport.   If you don’t like it then dont train in it or change the TV channel.     Nothing wrong with combat sports if everyones a willing participant and the rules are adhered to.

        The issue here is churchs trying to appear manly and piggybacking on other activities.  Many do it effectively with womans and childrens groups and this is the way they appeal to (some of) the men.    If they wish to involve themselves with properly run gyms with qualified coaches or participate in/run sanctioned events then fine.   A bit underhanded in my opinion but each to their own.   

        If they’re endangering people they need to be challenged on it.

    • Bo Tait

      I think you’re thinking of a conflict resolution seminar

      The things you listed are good to have. But any martial art worth anything teaches how to mess people up without being messed up above anything else.

      Discipline and self control are parts of being a good martial artist but none of it matters if you don’t know how to take someone out. And the only way to learn to do that properly is to get in there and go all out.

      You can’t show how good you are at it? That’s like saying only a true musician composes a masterpiece and then never let’s anyone hear it…

  • http://gulliblestravelsdma.wordpress.com/ D-Ma

    Something tells me these fools, I mean men, would have thought Jesus was a nancy.  What, with that turn the other cheek crap and all.  

  • Annie

    This is such a good example of how so many churches are just businesses, and “pastors” simply look for an untapped niche market.  I have a feeling this has very little to do with Jesus, and a whole lot to do with getting rich. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/davydd.norris David Philip Norris

    It’s almost sad to see these guys tebowing before beating the hell (*wink wink*) out of each other. They’re obviously so desperate to prove their masculinity in the fact of a largely female-centric institution that has effectively castrated them by winnowing their role as men to the mirror image of what womens’ roles were in the 1950s. Male headship in Christian families today is pretty much a joke. If this weren’t so patently absurd it’d be tragic.

  • dantresomi

    1. I have been beat up several times and let me say that IT IS NOT THE BEST MOMENTS of my life…

    2. I just don’t get how you minister Christ by beating someone else up.

    3. Why are they fighting with no groin guards? Why is it legal to do that in their ring? I notice they are not using universal rules used by many MMA organizations (ie. no punching in the back of the head, no kicks to the groin )

    4. but I will say that fighting and Christianity go hand in hand… look at the history of Christianity. 

  • Wilkimist

    The bald guy that is speaking at the beginning and “loves fighting” is Paul Burress, he is the head pastor at Victory, 
    http://discovervictory.com/  (was Victory Baptist Church when I attended there, his father Joe Burress was the pastor then).  I started watching the video and it brought back memories of being there, none of them good except that it was there that I really started to question what I believed and why I believed it.  So I guess I can thank them for helping me become an atheist.

  • Abe

    maybe I should get  a whore house church going….spread the love!


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