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Challenging the Integration of Youth, Faith, and Sports: Alternative Religious Beliefs and Assumptions

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White, John B 


jats:pThe sport/faith interface has long been a site of contention for religious youth who routinely experience two significant obstacles to living out their faith amidst the complexities of sporting locales. The first is a general problem that pertains to the character of adolescent spirituality and is typified by a subscription to a compromised, diluted religious belief system known as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD). The second concerns the way in which the Christian religion functions as a servant to sport and when the reality of the gospel becomes subordinate to the identity, power, and cultural meaning and norms of the institution of sports and is commonly termed ‘sportianity’. This paper maps the contours of a high school retreat for Christian student-athletes—Baylor University’s Faith and Sports Institute (FSI) retreat- that intentionally seeks to address these problems. The paper is theological in that we interpret MTD as a religious belief system and how it structures and orients reality and the lived experiences of Christians in general and religious youth in particular. As contributors to the original design of the retreat, we unpack some of the relevant working cultural and religious presuppositions that have the potential to dominate how Christians think about and practice the integration of faith and sports. In turn, we explain key aspects of the baseline narrative for the design and development of the retreat and tease out how these presuppositions are antithetical to orthodox Christianity. In conclusion, we suggest a number of immediate implications that frame how the FSI retreat has moved forward in relation to the integration of Christian faith and sports.</jats:p>


Peer reviewed: True


5004 Religious Studies, 5005 Theology, 50 Philosophy and Religious Studies

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Lilly Endowment Inc. (2015 0683)