Aaron Rodgers‘ comments about his Christian upbringing and questioning his faith have raised a lot of eyebrows — especially those of his estranged family.
During an intimate conversation with girlfriend Danica Patrick on her Pretty Intense podcast, Green Bay Packers quarterback said that he had trouble connecting with his religious community as a child.
“Most people that I knew, church was just… you just had to go,” the Super Bowl XLV champion recalled.
But Rodgers’ family was not impressed with his candid comments, a source tells PEOPLE.
“They were dismayed,” says the insider. “The family is very dedicated to their Christian faith.”
“To them, his comments are basically a slap in the face to the fundamentals of who they are. It’s basically him turning his back on everything they have taught him.”
Rogers, 36, has been estranged from his family – including Bachelorette star Jordan Rodgers – for several years. He has not spoken publicly about the reasons behind the estrangement, but the insider tells people that religion is a part of it.
“The feeling is that Aaron has really turned his back on them,” says the insider. “There’s clearly a lot more to it, but that’s how he is perceived by his family.”
“His comments are very hurtful to the family,” says the insider, who says that the family “still loves Aaron very much,” but disagrees with him about fundamental things. “They have these times where things start to thaw out, but then something like this happens, and then it’s back to square one. It’s sad.”
In a 2017 interview with the New York Times, the family patriarch, Ed Rodgers, said that “fame can change things,” and that Aaron allegedly stopped talking to his family members at the end of 2014, shortly after he began dating actress Olivia Munn.
During the Pretty Intense podcast, Rodgers told Patrick that he has gone down a path to a “different type of spirituality” that is more meaningful to him than what he experienced as a child.
“I don’t know how you can believe in a God who wants to condemn most of the planet to a fiery hell,” he said. “What type of loving, sensitive, omnipresent, omnipotent being wants to condemn his beautiful creation to a fiery hell at the end of all this?”
Rodgers did not specifically refer to himself as an atheist, but he said that religion can divide people.
“Religion can be a crutch, it can be something that people have to have to make themselves feel better,” Rodgers continued. “Because it’s set up binary, it’s us and them, saved and unsaved, heaven and hell, it’s enlightened and heathen, it’s holy and righteous … that makes a lot of people feel better about themselves.”