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ST. LOUIS—As contract talks broke down between Albert Pujols and the Cardinals, St. Louis baseball fans began nervously asking themselves a host of questions.

He's a Cardinal for life, right?

He wouldn't go to Wrigley Field because he likes winning too much, right?

But a particular group of Cardinals fans—those who share his evangelical faith—was asking a different kind of question. What does holding out for the largest contract in the history of baseball say about Albert's Christian testimony?

Pujols and his wife, Deidre, are evangelical Christians. They describe their charity, the Pujols Family Foundation, as "a faith-based nonprofit organization," and participate in Christian events around the city.

So as Pujols began looking to many like a typical mega-wealthy superstar athlete angling for a record payday, some have asked how Pujols' public, God-fearing image squares with a private quest for wealth.

Team officials have declined to describe the details of their offer to Pujols, but it's widely believed to have been worth about $200 million.

The Rev. Darrin Patrick, pastor of The Journey, a church in St. Louis that counts a number of professional athletes as members, said Jesus warned against greed.

"Nobody really confesses to that sin," Patrick said. "Lust, anxiety—sure. But very few people say, `I'm greedy,' and I absolutely think that (Pujols) should be on guard for that."

A verse from 1 Timothy says, "The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains."

That's the fear of many people who love Pujols, both as fans and as Christians. They fear, as the author of Matthew's Gospel wrote, that no one ...

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February 2011

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