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The Media Finds an Anti-Tebow in Atheism Evangelist Arian Foster

Arian Foster revealed to ESPN that he doesn’t believe in a divine power. Then the Houston Texans running back suffered a groin injury requiring surgery that likely claims most of his season.

God moves in mysterious ways.

“Everybody always says the same thing: You have to have faith,” Foster tells ESPN: The Magazine. “That’s my whole thing: Faith isn’t enough for me. For people who are struggling with that, they’re nervous about telling their families or afraid of the backlash … man, don’t be afraid to be you. I was, for years.”

That’s difficult to, well, believe.

Arian Foster may not believe but he overflows with beliefs. He despises cartoon complainer Caillou (“I’m sure if we rally together we can get it off air”). He loves the Toyota Tundra (“Man, the Tundra is a machine out there”). He cast a ballot for Ron Paul (“I’m in the Green Party—I’m voting for Ron Paul”). He offers a Namaste as an endzone celebration (“I recognize the light in you”). He played for a season as a vegan (“It raised my consciousness about what we put into our foods and how they’re made”).

Whereas other athletes sport Bible-verse ink, Foster displays a “COEXIST” tattoo on his forearm mirroring the bumper sticker that assigns religious symbolism to each letter. He looks to inscribe, according to ESPN, a “mummified American flag” as his next tattoo (“She’s just hurting,” he tells ESPN. “America’s hurting.”). If his body art remains unique, Foster believes his irreligious outlook does not. “I do think there are athletes professional and collegiate that are non-believers that are probably afraid to talk about it, and you know, rightfully so,” he tells Openly Secular, an organization that encourages secular people to preach their beliefs. “We live, or, our culture – our football culture – is, for some reason, very rooted in… really it’s religion is Christianity.”

His brother calls him “the anti-Tebow.” Maybe he’s more the agnostic-Tebow than the anti-Tebow. He’s preachy, but in an anti-clerical sort of way. Former teammate and current friend Justin Forsett tells ESPN, “Arian is going to voice his thoughts whether you want them or not, or whether you ask for them or not.” Shyness shies away from the man, which helps explain his decision to preach the gospel according to Madalyn Murray O’Hair to the world’s largest sports media company.

ESPN admits an atheist-agnostic group called Openly Secular pitched the Foster story and that ESPN subsequently contacted Foster for a feature on his agnosticism. But the broadcasting behemoth, despite the close similarities between Foster’s lengthy testimonial at OpenlySecular.org and the feature at ESPN.com, insists that “Openly Secular had no involvement.”

Even faith has its limits.

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