Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

And so the dream has died, with the United States’ loss to Ghana yesterday (2-1) in the World Cup competition. Even though Italy did its part by beating Czechoslovakia (2-0), the U.S.’s loss cemented its shameful exit from the first round of the 2006 World Cup. I guess all my “bismillahs” as the U.S. maneuvered for a goal and all my prayers to God for a U.S. victory went unanswered. Them’s the breaks.

But the excitement persists, and faithful fans continue to call on the highest power to put their team over. In my opinion, it’s faith (and skill, of course, and maybe some questionable calls by the referees) that drives this tournament. In fact the churches of Germany are capitalizing on the World Cup by trying to reach out to people of all religions.

An article on Forbes.com reports that thousands of churches asked for and received broadcast rights to the games: “Some are showing them on large screens in churches–others… in impromptu places of worship. Preachers have worked soccer themes into their sermons.” It seems that church officials are stressing the similarities between religion and soccer: “both have rituals, offer a sense of community, a chance to leave the ordinary behind.”

And apparently Christianity has cornered the world cup market in Germany. The article goes on to report that Muslim and Jewish communities are not undertaking similar efforts.

Too bad. It seems to me that the churches of Germany have latched onto something interesting. Want to increase attendance? Just broadcast World Cup soccer! But that doesn’t guarantee that your parishioners will listen to your message about God. As one Roman Catholic Church spokeswoman said, “We have to be realistic. Most people come here to watch soccer.”

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