Hoops holiness: Baylor vs. Gonzaga title game features Baptists vs. Jesuits

NCAA Villanova Baylor Basketball
Posted at 8:57 PM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 21:13:46-04

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Dr. Ken Pruitt is a Baylor backer from head to toe.

"Now that I'm at the beach, I did find some Baylor flip-flops," Pruitt, the senior pastor at Virginia Beach's King's Grant Baptist Church said smiling as he showed off his footwear.

Pruitt earned his doctorate in preaching and theology from Baylor University's Truett Seminary. His two oldest daughters, Nichole and Bethany, are also Baylor alumnae.

"It's not just the Baptist heritage, which is so important," Pruitt noted. "But much more important is their reach of Christian faith across the globe."

Baylor, the world's largest Baptist institution, faces off with Gonzaga - a university rooted in Catholic, Jesuit tradition, in Monday's NCAA men's basketball title game played the day after Easter.

"God must be a basketball fan," Reverend Donald Ward, the priest in residence at Sacred Heart Parish - the Jesuit church in Richmond, said while laughing.

Father Ward will be cheering on Gonzaga in the title game, just like Pastor Pruitt will be rooting hard for Baylor. However, neither clergyman will be putting on a full-court press of prayers for his team.

"God lets people do what they want to do," Father Ward, one of just three Jesuits currently in Virginia, explained. "If they're happy winning, he's happy. If they're sad losing, he's sad."

"He cares about what's important to us," Dr. Pruitt said. "And I think enjoying the competition at this national championship game - I call this a blessing from God."

And blessings aren't impacted by wins and losses. But, there's no flip-flopping from Dr. Pruitt: he's picking his Bears to win tonight.