Skateboarding and Christianity have been embroiled in a strange and difficult relationship for decades. The Church has attempted to engage young people through street culture since the 80s. They've done everything from hilarious religious raps to hosting regular skate nights at church halls. For some young skaters their church was the first place they started to skate and for some of the more talented ones, their Christian beliefs continued to burn bright throughout their pro careers. Here's a list of ten pro's who've seen the light.
In the 80's, at the height of Christian Hosoi's career, his maverick party boy persona and massive airs gained him a huge cult following. Hosoi even invented the Christ Air. But unknown to Hosoi's followers, he was secretly a crystal meth addict.
In 2000, Hosoi was caught smuggling meth from Hawaii and was imprisoned. Whilst in jail, Hosoi re-embraced Christianity in a big way and upon his release he became a preacher. Hosoi's changed since his wanton days of leather jackets, spandex and meth but judging by these legend clips his skating has not missed a beat. It looks as if Hosoi learnt how to do a few new tricks in jail including major life 180s.
Jereme Rogers has changed a lot since the PJLWHL days and his faith was not always apparent but in several interviews he has talked about going to church, divine energy and spiritual moment. He's also chatted about having out of body experiences and hallucinations, similar to those had by biblical prophets, which must influence his rapping.
Josh Kasper believes in Christ now but for a short time he only believed in Josh Kasper. This was because Kasper was the cult leader of his own faith, 'The Kasperholics', which started as a result of his skating's immense popularity amongst younger skaters in the mid to late 90's. He was a daredevil who was never afraid to tre flip whatever mammoth obstacle came into his path and he made a massive impact on skating and his knees. Kasper single-handedly raised the stakes on big set jumping and must have believed in a higher power to do as many insane drops as he did.
The story of how Lennie Kirk, an AWS pro from Philly, became a Christian preacher is told often in discussions about skaters and Christianity. One day whilst out filming, Lennie hit his head and was hospitalised. Lennie regained consciousness and said he'd had an epiphany where he visited heaven and spoke to God who told him to become a preacher. Some commentators say the blow to his head caused irrational thoughts, hallucinations or brain damage. Spiritual or scientific, Lennie started to dedicate his life to God and eventually leave skate life. He started it all off with his eerie Time Code part with its odd silhouette intro and “Highway to Heaven" soundtrack.
The Chief puts Christian crosses on boards and fully embraces God as a marketable item, which is strange considering faith is not supposed to be about money, right? Jamie's love for the lord infiltrated early Zero videos and it had a strong effect on its brand ethos and graphics.
In Jamie's Dying to Live part, an epic 6 minute war film about his board fighting American stairs and handrails, he places a Biblical passage into his section as a sign of respect for the lord. His commitment to do that in the middle of his skate section is pretty ballsy and it goes well and gives the section a hallowed and revered tone. Dinosaur fossil denier or not Jamie knows when to make a Leap of Faith to make the most impact on his skate audience.
Brian Sumner is originally from Liverpool, England but now sounds like he was born and raised in Liverpool, California. Sumner believes his piss drunx lifestyle in the Warner Ave days bought him over to the dark side and that to redeem his evil actions he had to give his life over to the lord and become a reborn Christian.
Sumner's sick parts in Birdhouse video The End and Adio's One Step Beyond were legendary but in more recent years he's become an evangelist pastor and put pro life on hold to concentrate on his faith. Perhaps in the future we'll see more of Brian on a board, god knows when though.
Chad Tim Tim
Chad Tim Tim, is a clean cut, flannel shirt wearing switch ledge technician who's consistently improved at skating and added new moves to his seemingly limitless trick list. But back in the day he was a raver and one night when he took a cocktail of ecstacy and speed, he spent four days awake in agony and the resulting come down he says was the lowest point of his life. After his dark but brief hedonist experience, Tim Tim saw the light and surrendered his life to God. It seems for Tim Tim the Church of Skatan was not good enough and he really needed divine help to exorcise his bad habits and live a good life.
In 2009, Josiah Gatlyn, a relatively unknown skater at the time, submitted his crazy video part into The Berrics Bang Yo'self comp and it became apparent his skills on a board were ridiculous. But on further investigation into Gatlyn's previous video parts released by Christian board brand, Untitled Skateboards, it also became clear he was a devout believer. Gatlyn never talks very openly about his faith and unlike some of the people on this list he doesn’t preach. Gatlyn came 2nd in the comp to Corey Kennedy but was later offered sponsorship by Stereo, so it seems the good lord was looking out for him after all.
Paul Rodriguez is an iconic pro who's always been open about his belief in Christ and has even got a Jesus tattoo on his arm. Before he does a trick in his street league runs he's known to make a prayer into his cap which he believes gives him strength to land his tricks. Whether this is true or not, we don't know but judging by his prolific and progressive skate output its become obvious that his drive, ambition and faith in Jesus almost always seem to make him stomp his tricks down perfectly right before the buzzer. Cosmic.
Ray Barbee the no complying, guitar playing, street skating legend is no longer confused about his life anymore after a visit with the lord helped him to put his life into perspective.
Is Geoff Rowley a Christian? I'm unsure but there has always been something dubious in that Really Sorry section where Rowley says he's only kidding before slaughtering the Clipper hubba spot and flatground next to it with a barrage of tricks. Geoff's tongue in cheek reference to God does ask a lot of questions and some may believe it or not but until Geoff answers it himself, it still remains a mystery.