When Christians don’t pledge allegiance: Bronco takes a knee

When Christians don’t pledge allegiance: Bronco takes a knee September 13, 2016

Another NFL football player, Denver Bronco Linebacker Brandon Marshall has decided to not stand during the traditional playing of the National Anthem. He is using his proclaimed Christian faith as the reason for taking a knee.

“Honestly, I’m a man of faith so I prayed about it long and hard, and I feel like it was the right thing to do,” he told a local news station.

This isn’t the first time Marshall has stood up for the faith in the public eye. He debated ESPN’s Stephen Smith live on the air.  He defended Tim Tebow. He has been an advocate for faith in everyday life.

So with this national debate enters a strong Christian man standing firm in his convictions by revolting against our national anthem.

“It’s an evil world. It’s a hateful world,” Marshall told the Denver Post. “I’m not here to spread hate. I’m not here to respond to the hate. I’m here to spread love and positivity.”

In his interview he said that “there is still lots of oppression.”

He hasn’t named the oppression, but he has set up a time to sit down and talk to local police officials. That’s a good step.

Unlike others, Brandon claims he loves the country. He respects the military and the people who are sworn to protect us.

His protest has cost him two sponsorships, so there is  monetary price he has paid.
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 Christians and injustice

Brandon Marshall will not stand – to make a point.

Daniel in the Bible wouldn’t bow to the image, the idol of a foreign god – to make a point. And he was stripped of his power, his freedom and was cast into the fire.

Standing up against unjust authority is a Christian hallmark. William Wilberforce, stood up against slavery. Olympic champion Eric Liddell would not run on Sundays. Dietrich Bonhoeffer died opposing the Nazi regime.

I don’t know if the comparisons of the current protests are the same, but history is full of faith-filled people standing against injustice.

Here’s where I stand — and yes, I will stand. The pledge, the flag and our freedom are precious to me. I’m a retired veteran, with children in the military and relatives lying below graves dug out of patriotic sacrifice. I pledge and I stand in reverence. This country has been good to me and I get a little peeved at those who don’t see it like it do.

The flag is a unifier, a symbol of all that’s right in America. Take our flaws and they will pale in comparison to every other man-made institution. There’s a reason people want to be here. Go to any other country and you’ll see rampant racism, nationalism and discrimination.

Standing doesn’t mean everything in America is perfect. It’s not. I  admit that we have improvements to make, but thank goodness we still have the freedom to make them.

And using the flag as a tool of protest is the the wrong forum. It’s too precious to too many people and you your protest voice will be lost in the howls.

However, the actions and words of Brandon Marshall has me thinking.

Patriotism or faith. Do I have to choose?

First, as  Christian, I’m trying to wrap my head around the proper place of patriotism.

I don’t want to mix my love of country with my love for God.

I’m a child of the 70’s and 80’s, so the rah-rah rally of Jerry Falwell and Ronald Reagan had much to do with my spiritual and cultural formation. I have to admit, there is a weird marriage between American Christian faith and American patriotism.  The two seemed fused together and I have to fight off the urge to wrap my Bible in a flag.

There are Christians who recognize that they live in two kingdoms and split their earthly existence between both. For example, Anabaptists do not pledge, do no go to war, do not vote.

One proof verse they use is found in Matt 5.34, Jesus tells disciples that their “yes means yes and their no means no” and to refrain from taking oaths.

They emphasize that our loyalty is to God, not to a manmade kingdom.

Their doctrine states, “while we cannot participate in earthly governments, we are not opposed to them, but rather accept them as a necessary part of an evil, unregenerate society. We lend them our support in every Scriptural way (by prayer, financial support, and obedience wherever possible without conflict with the Word of God).”

Not Like Me – Trying to Understand

With all of this swirling in my head, Brandon Marshall said something to me – and maybe you – directly.

“People don’t really realize it because people that aren’t minorities, they don’t know what it’s like to be a minority in this country.”

Brandon is right. I don’t know what it’s like.  We are guilty by association, white people with white ancestors. We are 150 years from slavery and 50 years out from segregation. For many of us, we thought the argument, the discord was over. Obviously we are missing something, as the wound still oozes. Most of us don’t know what to do.

So that’s why the Not Like Me series will continue. In the coming weeks I’ll be speaking to several members from the black community.  What should I be asking? What should I be saying?

BONUS: Watch this video of Brandon Marshall.

Photo by RRenner via Wikipedia licensed under CCLI

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