NCAA Wrestler Criticized for Comments About His Christian Faith

NCAA Wrestler Criticized for Comments About His Christian Faith

Aaron Brooks, the Penn State University wrestler who won his third consecutive individual NCAA title on March 18, is facing backlash for discussing his Christian faith and calling Muhammad a “false prophet.”

The 22-year-old, a senior from Hagerstown, Maryland, defeated Parker Keckeisen of Northern Iowa in the 184-pound finals.

During a post-match interview with ESPN, Brooks attributed his victory to God and when asked about his faith, said “It’s everything.” 

“Christ’s resurrection is everything,” he said. “Not just His life, but His death and resurrection. You can only get that through Him, the Holy Spirit only through Him. No false prophets, no Muhammad, no anyone else. Only Jesus Christ Himself.”

The interviewer then questioned him about his power and finesse. “The Holy Spirit,” Brooks said. “Acts Chapter 1 verse 8: Power, Holy Spirit power, it’s everything. That’s where it’s from …

“I’m blessed. God used me. He gave me this platform for this right here. … It’s all for His glory,” he concluded.

Later in his post-match media availability, Brooks was asked about Keckeisen, against whom he is now 3-0 in his career.

“He’s my brother in Christ,” Brooks said, according to Penn State’s student newspaper Daily Collegian. “Iron sharpens iron. And every time I have him, I’ve got to bring it. Him and his coaching staff, very blessed as well. I know [if] I’m wrestling Parker, it’s going to be a good match.”

But most Twitter users focused on his comments about Muhammad.

“What a strange and disrespectful thing to say,” tweeted journalist Ariel Helwani. “ … Pretty darn weird. Not to mention offensive to Muslims.”

“After capturing his third title at the 2023 NCAA wrestling championships, Aaron Brooks used his ESPN interview to call Muhammad a false Prophet and take a cheap shot at Muslims,” wrote the MMA and UFC news outlet Bloody Elbow.

Franklin Graham commended the wrestler for taking a stand for Christ.

“Some criticized Aaron for his bold faith, but I applaud him!” Franklin posted on Facebook March 21. “Jesus died for our sins on a Roman cross, was buried, and on the third day, God raised Him from the dead! He’s not dead, He’s alive! Thank you, Aaron Brooks, for being unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who declared, ‘I am the Way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6).

The NCAA came under fire for posting and then deleting the clip of the post-match interview. Neither the NCAA nor Brooks have responded to the backlash.

Brooks took to Instagram on Sunday following the Saturday win, directing his followers to two more Bible verses: John 15:18: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (NIV); and John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (NIV). 

Photograph: Newscom

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