In a video posted to Patrick’s YouTube page for her Pretty Intense podcast in late December, Rodgers — who was raised as a Christian from a young age — said 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.
It was his time with the youth group, Young Life, that he felt the most sense of community — which he said he didn’t get during typical Sunday mass.
“We went to Mexico during two spring breaks and built houses,” he said of volunteering with the program. “We put together homes for these folks who were living in garage door sides thrown together and stuff, that was meaningful. That was really meaningful work.”
But it wasn’t until Rodgers was exposed to other religions as a young adult that he began to question his own.
“I just didn’t find any connection points with those things,” said Rodgers, who played football at the University of California, Berkeley. “I started questioning things, and had friends who had other beliefs — I enjoyed learning, that’s kind of a part of my life.”
“I had some good friendships along the way that helped me to figure out exactly what I wanted to believe in,” the 36-year-old said in the video. “Ultimately, it was that rules and regulations and binary systems don’t really resonate with me.”
The realization led Rodgers down a path to a “different type of spirituality,” one that is more meaningful to him than what he experienced as a child.
Rodgers also said the growing threat of climate change made it hard for him to accept Christianity.
“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?”
Though Rodgers did not specifically refer to himself as an atheist — someone who does not believe in the existence of God or gods — his statements seem to echo those of a growing contingent of people in the United States. According to Pew Research, the number of Americans who identify with being an atheist has increased over the last decade (from 2 percent to 4 percent).
For the two-time NFL MVP, it was the “us against them” attitude he observed that ultimately changed his views on organized religion.
“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.”
Patrick confirmed to the Associated Press that she was in a relationship with the NFL star in January 2018. Rodgers and Patrick made their red carpet debut at the ESPYs in July 2018 — when Patrick was the show’s first female host.