What are we to think of President Trumph’s statements on NFL players protesting during the national anthem? Laying aside Trump’s using of fowl language to prove his point (this is normal for Trumph), how are we to tread through all the emotions of the issue in order not to react, but respond in a clear and gospel-centered way?
Here is Trumph’s quote on Twitter: “If NFL fans refuse to go to games until players stop disrespecting our Flag & Country, you will see change take place fast. Fire or suspend!”
First of all, we need to understand why players are protesting during the national anthem. It began with former San Fransisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Due to all the racial problems that were and still going on in the U.S., Kaepernick, wanted to make a stand against it and show how badly he believed the problem to be, and decided to show his protest by taking a knee during the national anthem before his NFL games rather than standing, which has been the long time tradition during practically all sporting events. His protest brought immediate backlash. Some showed their support and many quickly criticized the quarterback. I could say that most, including myself, were actually confused as to the real nature of the protest. Personally, when I heard what he was doing, I considered his protest ridiculous. I think the way he protested confused many, for the impression he gave many was that in kneeling during the anthem, he was standing against his country. And I understand this confusion, for I was in fact confused. Again, personally, I think the subject of his protest is very valid. Racism is a serious issue and causing mega problems in the U.S. and around the world. But, at the same time, in order to avoid confusion, it might have been better to chose another way to protest. But, in the end, he has the right as an American citizen to the freedom of speech, which he did in a non-violent way.
This is where Trump has messed up. Trump called for NFL owners and coaches to fire or sideline players for “disrespecting our Flag & Country”. This statement is bigger than just your normal Trumph rant on Twitter. The implications are scary and anti-American. According to Trumph’s tweet, if an NFL player wants to protest in a way that the he and those in his company do not like (even though they are in their constitutional right), then they should have quick and severe consequences. In other words, get in our line or you will pay. To me, this edges on tyranny, which is what the founding fathers of the U.S. stood against. The U.S. is founded on the right of freedom of speech, which Kaepernick and others have lawfully done. Once Trumph, or any other powerful person seeks to determine which freedom of expressions are right and wrong, according to their own personal opinions and preferences, we run into a huge problem, and begin to function like more like tyranny we hear of in North Korea and not according to our constitution. As U.S. citizens, freedom of speech is our constitutional right. We have the right to say what we believe, and the right to say others are wrong. But we cannot force others to believe what we believe. If Trump tries to force NFL owners and coaches to suppress people’s rights by threatening them with being terminated, then this means he has moved outside of the boundaries of our constitution. If this is going to be his version of a great America, then I am glad I live in Canada. He can believe those things. He has a the constitutional right. But forcing it upon the NFL or anybody else is unlawful at best. Like I said above, I personally do not like the way the NFL protest was done. But, on the point of racism, I can only agree with Kaepernick and the other NFL players who have taken up the banner he once held, something needs to be done about the racism. But what?
This is where gospel of Jesus can be applied. See, racism at its core is a heart problem, not a skin problem. The Bible says that we are all one race, descendants from one common couple. We are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). So when we as people begin to discriminate against others on the basis of skin color, we are not really acting against them, but their Maker, whose name is the Lord Almighty. See, sin has corrupted our hearts to the point where we will hate someone, or think we are better than others simply due to differences like color of skin. Can education help? In some ways, yes. It can help create better a behavior in our society. But, anyone, even the most evil person in the world, can control their behavior when they want to. So, while education can help with the way we act, it cannot cause our hearts to change toward others. If education some day causes whites and blacks to get along, our sinful hearts will simply join forces and focus our hate and discrimination toward another group of people who are not like us. Racism is a heart issue. And until we agree with God about our sin, and agree with God the solution He has offered in His Son, we will continue to see fights, riots, shootings, beating, bad police officers, and bad citizens. We need to embrace the gospel of Jesus.
So church, while the Kaepernicks of the world are sitting, kneeling, and locking arms during the national anthem, begging for something to change, because their God-image bearing heart, though corrupted by sin, still longs for righteousness, the question remains what are we going to do? Are we going to call them vulgar things and tell them to respect “our Flag & Country” or else get fired? Are we going to sit down during the anthem to in order to “stick it to the man”? Or are we going to live and share the gospel of Jesus with a country and to a people of all colors who need a heart change that only God can provide. Our ultimate rebellion is not against the constitution, but against our Creator. We can point our finger at Trump or at NFL players, but we are all guilty before God for worshipping self, sports, or a country more than Him. So:
NFL players, I agree with your point, but I do not like your protest. It looks anti-American to me. We will always have problems in the U.S. How long will you sit for? If you wait until all gets better, you will sit forever and your protest will lose meaning.
Trump and company, your words scare me, for they speak of tyranny, forced obedience to your agenda, and an allegiance to the country above all things. This I will not do. BTW, neither would have the founding fathers. They taught that when a government turns to tyranny, it is the people’s job to change it. Take heed.
Church, sing your anthem or sit it out, but never forget that the banner we are to obey above all is not the Stars and Stripes. It is red, for it is covered the blood of our Savior. It has stripes, the ones our Savoir bore for us. Wave His banner over all things. And share the gospel.
As one of my Facebook friends said earlier today, “There’s a problem in America, but it’s not the kneeling or the NFL.”
Ron, thanks for this. It’s encouraging to see Christians who understand what’s going on these days and are courageous enough to apply Christ’s standards to such emotional issues.