Lawrence says it’s “clear” that God wanted him at Clemson and that “this was the place where he wanted me to grow into who I am going to be.” The quarterback also believes his abilities serve a purpose. “I don’t think anything is coincidence,” he says. “God gave me these things for a reason, not just talent on the field, but other opportunities to be a light to people.”
Clemson and NewSpring Both Have Faced Controversy
Profiles of Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney often address the “fervent religious culture” he maintains on his football team. In fact, for years the Freedom From Religion Foundation has claimed that the program oversteps into proselytizing—and even violates the First Amendment.
But Lawrence sees only the positives. “Coach Swinney is really in tune with the Spirit,” he says. “It is really cool that your head coach is watching what you are doing and cares about you.”
Faith is the reason Clemson lands some recruits, including D.J. Uiagalelei, the top prospect of the 2020 quarterback class. The 18-year-old, who has already committed to the Tigers, proclaims, “Jesus is No. 1 in life.” D.J.’s mom, Tausha, says Swinney told her, “I guarantee you that every single player that comes through this program will hear about the Gospel of Christ.”
Former Clemson standout Deshaun Watson, now quarterback for the Houston Texans, made headlines this summer for getting baptized in the Jordan River.
NewSpring Church, founded by Perry Noble in 2000, was previously one of America’s fastest-growing churches. After Noble was removed from leadership in 2016, the church devised a new leadership structure, naming Jesus as senior pastor. Attendance declined a bit during the upheaval, but on average more than 20,000 weekly worshipers attend NewSpring’s 14 South Carolina campuses—including a new one in Clemson.
NewSpring also has been in the news recently due to several abuse allegations within its children’s and youth ministry programs.