Chris Kluwe is known for his vocal -- and controversial -- nature. The Oakland Raiders punter regularly shares his views on gay marriage, noting that he's a supporter of same-sex nuptials. He also endorsed Barack Obama during the 2012 presidential campaign. Now, Kluwe, an agnostic, is prepared to take what may be his most divisive step yet -- he's slated to speak at American Atheists' 2014 annual convention.
Seemingly serving as the anti-Tim Tebow of sorts, the football player is likely to, once again, spark controversy with his decision to address the contentious group -- a cohort of activists that has become known for its oft-times offensive billboards and litigious battles against perceived violations of the separation of church and state.
Oakland Raiders punter Chris Kluwe during their NFL football training camp Saturday, July 27, 2013, in Napa, Calif. Credit: AP
Consider that, most recently, American Atheists protested against a 10 Commandments display in Starke, Florida, and subsequently installed the nation's first atheist monument right next to it. The non-theist organization and its leader, David Silverman, also continue to battle against a steel cross that is set to be displayed in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City.
NBC Sports notes that Christian themes are prominent in football and that, by agreeing to speak at the organization's annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in April of next year, Kluew is "putting himself pretty far outside the NFL mainstream."
NFL player Chris Kluwe speaks onstage at the fifth annual PFLAG National Straight for Equality Awards at Marriott Marquis Hotel on April 4, 2013 in New York City. Credit: Getty Images for PFLAG
In his book, "Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies," the football player doesn't call himself an atheist, but says that he is "cheerfully agnostic." Here's an excerpt from the book (courtesy of the Friendly Atheist):
Atheists confuse me. It takes just as much faith to claim something unknowable isn’t real as it does to proclaim it’s real. The only way you’d know for certain, one way or the other, would be to step outside the universe so you could see how everything ticks along and how it all fits together, and at that point, you’ve effectively become God. It’s a little like opening the box with the crowbar packed inside it.
Me? I’m cheerfully agnostic. I like to look at the universe and learn new things, and the only way I can do that is by keeping open the possibility that I just may be terribly wrong about everything I thought was right. I have faith in the ability of the universe to constantly surprise me, to throw my mental gears for such a loop that the only response is to laugh at the wonderful absurdity of it all. Just the other day, I learned that a person’s colon can explode during a colonoscopy. How is that even a thing?! What will I learn tomorrow?
My religion is doubt. I believe with all my heart that I will never know everything, that the decisions I make will necessarily be flawed by the imperfect assumptions I base them on but that the only way to keep learning is to change those assumptions when faced with new evidence.
Blair Walsh #3 of the Minnesota Vikings celebrates the game tying field goal with holder Chris Kluwe #5 and lineman Charlie Johnson #74 against the Jacksonville Jaguars during NFL opening day September 9, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Credit: Getty Images
It's interesting that he's attending the American Atheists event and speaking there, especially considering his proclamation that "atheists confuse" him and that both believers and non-believers, alike, should hold healthy skepticism. After all, the secular organization is pretty fervent in its contentions.
Still, that apparently didn't dissuade him from signing on.
"Chris Kluwe, whom the New York Times called 'The Most Interesting Man in the NFL,' is also a gaming enthusiast, author, LGBTQ equality activist, and musician," reads an American Atheists press release announcing the player's participation. "His book, Beautiful Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities, features personal essays about religion and the Pope, his family, guns, and many other topics."
We'll have to wait and see what the player has to say to his audience of atheist activists.
(H/T: NBC Sports)