Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has made some insightful comments about his evolving religious views throughout his NFL career, but could an argument with a former teammate have helped shape his stance?
The subject of religion is one of the main focuses of a recent three-part series from Sports Illustrated on former Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila and his affiliation with Straitway Truth Ministry, a religious community some have denounced as a cult.
While there are dozens of things to unpack about the series, one particular passage about a heated argument between KGB and Rodgers — who were once “bible study peers” — shed some light on where the former Packers teammates hit a point of divergence on religion.
One summer night, a heated debate broke out in the courtyard at St. Norbert College, where the Packers held training camp. KGB remembers Rodgers, irritated, telling everyone to go to bed. Moments later, the argument reached a boiling point and KGB proclaimed, If the locker room blew up, 99 percent of you guys would go to hell. Teammates erupted in anger. After that “most of the Christians turned on me,” Kabeer says. “I remember Aaron Rodgers turned on me, [he said,] If this is what a Christian looks like, I don’t want anything to do with it. … I don’t hate him and I don’t think he hates me, but our relationship has never been the same.”
Rodgers has been candid about his disillusionment with Christianity in the past, most recently earlier this year when he discussed the topic with then-girlfriend Danica Patrick on her “Pretty Intense” podcast. Though he spoke fondly of his experiences with YoungLife growing up, he also criticized the religion’s binary views of the world as “not very welcoming.”
“I don’t know how you can believe in a god who wants to condemn most of the planet to a fiery hell,” Rodgers told Patrick. “Like, what type of loving, sensitive, omnipresent, omnipotent being wants to condemn most of his beautiful creation to a fiery hell at the end of all this?”
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KGB Had Habit of Pushing Christianity on Teammates
The argument with Rodgers spoke to KGB’s larger issue during his time with the Packers, which was that his strict “Old Testament” views were sometimes poorly received by his teammates. KGB also didn’t gently put his foot to the pedal, as SI’s Kalyn Kahler wrote:
Fellow Christian teammates weren’t spared from judgment. KGB didn’t drink or do drugs or even swear, and he believed in the sanctity of marriage—teammates going through divorces were an easy target. “The blood is on your head,” he’d say to the sinners.
“I genuinely loved my teammates,” KGB says now. “But I had a hard time going to work, patting them on the butt and not telling them what I believed to be the truth. I knew they made jokes about that. It was, Oh, Kabeer’s got you! every time I talked to somebody in the locker room. I would get clowned.
“Some guys talked about the girls that they slept with, or the club they went to. I just wanted to talk about Jesus. That was my love, Jesus.”