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Atheists Seething as Huge International Soccer Tournament Kicks Off with Sermonette and Prayer in Jesus' Name

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After dominating public discourse for decades, atheists have begun to shriek as the lie of secularism erodes before their eyes.

On Thursday, the opening ceremonies of the 2024 Copa América soccer tournament at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, officially kicked off the huge, multi-nation soccer tournament that boasts a history going back more than a century. The ceremonies featured a Christian prayer and brief sermon that sent atheists online into fits of apoplexy.

On the social-media site Reddit, for instance, one user called the devotional moment “absolutely disgusting.”

“All these Christians are saying ‘cry about it’ ‘you’re offended’ but if it was a pride thing they would be trying to cancel everything. The only thing that should be going on at sporting events is sports,” the same user wrote.

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There you have the modern secular mind. At best, it regards prayer and LGBTQ-“pride” as equals.

Of course, we seldom see the modern secular mind at its best — hence the proliferation of “pride”-related nonsense in politics, education and even sporting events.

According to CHVN-FM — a Manitoba, Canada-based radio station focused on Christian news and music —  the offending display of piety involved two Christian pastors, one of whom prayed and spoke in Spanish and the other in English.

Does America need more prayer in public places?

“God bless America. Christ’s message is still valid today and he called us to peace, understanding, and forgiveness. He also told us to believe, because the one who believes, everything is possible. These words encourage us not to be discouraged, to believe big, and believe that everything can be done,” Paraguayan pastor Emilio Aguero Esgaib said in Spanish, CHVN reported, citing a Paraguayan news source.

Juan Cruz Cellamare, president of the Alianza Evangélica Latina (Latin Evangelical Alliance), described Esgaib’s appearance at the tournament as deliberate in delivering the message.

“The message of the cross, symbolizing peace, hope and forgiveness, was the central message of the opening ceremony of Copa America 2024,” Cellamare said according to Christian Daily International.

“I know pastor Emilio Aguero Esgaib personally and I celebrate his involvement in such an important event as Copa America, lifting up the message of the Cross. I also know the chairman of Conmebol (Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol) Alejandro Dominguez, a man of faith and Christian life,” he added.

Then, the English-speaking pastor, who was not identified, followed Esgaib.

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“We want to always thank God for the life, opportunities, protection, and peace He provides,” he began.

“Jesus said, ‘I have come that they may have life and have it in all its fullness.’ A full life consists of love for each other, forgiveness towards each other, and unity with each other.

“This is possible when we focus on God, the source of life. God, we ask your blessing over the tournament, the nations represented, the teams, players, and families. May Your peace, Your protection, be upon all, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”

One social media user posted a 45-second clip of the prayer to X. Readers may view it below.

Secularists on Reddit’s atheism forum and elsewhere howled in opposition.

“That was awful! Why they should permit it?! Pushing their beliefs to people’s using sport! Just awful!” one Reddit user wrote.

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“Yeah, never see that before. Religion and politics are the two things that should be nowhere near sports,” another user wrote.

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One X user demanded the great secular lie of inclusivity.

“Let’s keep our sport secular and open to everyone, please and thank you,” the user wrote.

Therein lies the great deception. A thing cannot be both “secular” and “open to everyone.”

Prayer involves humble appeal to God, the supreme power in the universe and the source of all good. Secularism suppresses that appeal by rendering it private so as not to offend those who believe in no such power.

We have freedom to choose, of course. But when we make that choice we choose between two rival conceptions of the universe, not between inclusion or exclusion.

At its core, atheism offers only hopelessness and death. It dehumanizes us with a materialistic determinism that posits our existence as an accidental result of subatomic particles that happened to arrange themselves in a way that first produced organic life and then — eventually — us.

Christian beliefss, on the other hand, offer forgiveness of sins, union with Jesus and eternal life in Heaven.

Suppressing prayer means choosing atheism. And everyone, including sports fans, must know that. They need not answer to any human authority, but eventually they must make their choice, one way or another.


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Michael Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in History and has taught at multiple colleges and universities. He has published one book and numerous essays on Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Early U.S. Republic. He loves dogs, baseball, and freedom. After meandering spiritually through most of early adulthood, he has rediscovered his faith in midlife and is eager to continue learning about it from the great Christian thinkers.
Michael Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in History and has taught at multiple colleges and universities. He has published one book and numerous essays on Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Early U.S. Republic. He loves dogs, baseball, and freedom. After meandering spiritually through most of early adulthood, he has rediscovered his faith in midlife and is eager to continue learning about it from the great Christian thinkers.




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