New Survey Shows Far Too Many Americans Believe God Influences Sports and Politics

According to a new survey out today from the Public Religion Research Institute, a quarter of all Americans believe God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event. And half of all Americans believe God helps pious athletes with “good health and success.”

The survey did not mention that all of those Americans are delusional.


White evangelical Protestants and non-white Protestants are more likely to see the hand of God in the outcome of sporting events than any other religious group. Approximately four in ten (41%) non-white Protestants and more than one-third (36%) of white evangelical Protestants believe God plays a role in determining which team wins. Fewer white mainline Protestants (25%), Catholics (25%), and religiously unaffiliated Americans (9%) believe God plays a role in determining outcomes on the field.

Non-white Protestants (65%), white evangelical Protestants (62%), and white mainline Protestants (59%) are more likely than Catholics (48%) and religiously unaffiliated Americans (29%) to believe God rewards faithful athletes with success and good health.

If that doesn’t show you the uselessness of the “unaffiliated” label, I don’t know what does. Atheists obviously don’t think God plays a role in players’ lives or cares about which team wins a big game. But we’re lumped in there, too.

Along the same lines, the survey asked people whether God played a role in the elections. The Unaffiliated overwhelmingly said no (obviously) while about 75% of white evangelicals said God played at least a minor role in electing Donald Trump.


In comparison, more than one-quarter (28%) of Americans believe God played a major role in determining the outcome of the 2016 election. Thirteen percent say God played a minor role and a majority (55%) say God did not play any role at all in the presidential election. Perceptions about God’s influence in politics varied markedly by political and religious affiliation.

Close to half (45%) of Republicans believe God intervened to help President Donald Trump win the presidency, compared to 26% of independents and only 18% of Democrats. Nearly seven in ten (69%) Democrats believe God had no hand in determining the outcome of the election.

Only seven in ten Democrats are being rational here. From all the evidence available to us, it’s apparent that Russia had far more influence in this election than God — and voter apathy and ignorance in a few swing states tipped the election over to Trump.

One thing I can’t figure out is how God could possibly play a “minor” role in the election. I understand religious people who say He played a major role… but a small one? What does that mean? Did God commit voter fraud in the swing states but stay out of California and Texas? Who knows. (And why is there an option for those who “do not believe in God” when it apparently applies to nobody in any category?)

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