Houston Texans running back Arian Foster confessed to being an atheist in "ESPN The Magazine's" Aug. 18 College Football Preview Issue.
Arian Foster has confessed to being an atheist.
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Arian made the revelation to ESPN senior writer Tim Keown. This was for "ESPN The Magazine's" Aug. 18 College Football Preview Issue.
The non-profit group Openly Secular has inspired a national campaign for acceptance of non-believers. Foster is now part of that campaign, per ESPN.
Keown says the group approached ESPN about a possible story involving Foster. ESPN decided to speak with him directly instead.
Celebrity atheists such as Bill Maher have inspired the Texans running back. He has kept his atheist beliefs a secret during his six-year NFL career. According to Keown, Foster did not want to be "misinterpreted" or "mislabeled."
Foster is no longer hesitant. He told Keown faith is not enough for him:
"Everybody always says the same thing: You have to have faith. 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 afraid to be you. I was, for years."
Foster understands his confession might trigger a lot of criticism. He is aware the city of Houston is an evangelical city. It is the home of Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church.
Foster said he just decided to be himself, per ESPN:
"You don't want to ruin endorsements. People might say, 'I don't want an atheist representing my team.' Now, though, I'm established in this league, and as I'm digging deeper into myself and my truth, just being me is more important than being sexy to Pepsi or whoever.
"After a while, what's an extra dollar compared to the freedom of being you? That's the choice I made."
When Foster was growing up, his family raised him to be a Muslim in New Mexico. He told Keown he "prayed five times a day, facing east." His father, Carl, knew the Bible very well. He even asked him a lot of questions about it.
Keown describes Foster's faith struggles in an in-depth manner:
"Arian felt he was living a lie every time he knelt to pray. His prayers carried intensity only when he faced turmoil. If you can just get me out of this jam. It was meaningless and dishonest; he didn't believe there was anything or anyone out there capable of helping him.
"He read the Bible and Quran in search of evidence that would override his skepticism. The concept of an omnipotent being nagged at him. Why is this relationship so one-sided? Why would a loving God create evil? Why would he allow eternal damnation?
"Foster felt like 'a contestant in his game show.'"
Foster told ESPN he harbors no grudge against believers.
"If a loving, kind Christian, Muslim or Jewish person can't accept a different vantage point, there's just nothing I can do about it. I have no ill will toward religion or religious people. I have no quarrels. Believe what you want to believe."
Foster suffered a groin injury during practice on Monday. He will undergo surgery on Aug. 7. Dr. William Meyers will perform the operation, per The Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson.
Wilson spoke with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bert Mandelbaum. He said, "Foster should be back to full form in two to three months depending on the details and spectrum of his injury."
Once Foster recovers, Wilson foresees the Texans putting him in injured reserve. He won't return to practice until Week 6 because of his rehab. His earliest return to the field will be in Week 8.
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