national anthem

NFL players raise concerns about Christian response to anthem protest: Please tell me more

NFL players raise concerns about Christian response to anthem protest: Please tell me more

Sign me up to read the story anytime an NFL writer for The Associated Press asks "What would Jesus do?"

That's certainly a relevant, thought-provoking question for Christians related to the national anthem protests before games this season.

An AP writer produced a nice piece out of Philadelphia, quoting football players concerned about how some Christians have responded to the controversy.

I do have a constructive criticism or two about the report. But first, let's focus on the positives. Those include the great quotes that the writer got from players and pastors.

The compelling lede:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Eric Reid and other Christian players who support Colin Kaepernick’s social justice movement want believers on the opposite side of the controversial anthem protest to ask themselves a simple but powerful question: What would Jesus do?
Reid joined Kaepernick, his former San Francisco 49ers teammate, in kneeling for the “The Star-Spangled Banner” last year because he wants to be a “voice for the voiceless,” a lesson derived from a Bible verse found in Proverbs. The 25-year-old safety-turned-linebacker said he has discussed faith with Kaepernick, who remains unsigned.
“It’s the foundation of why we started doing this,” Reid told The Associated Press on Oct. 29. “We all have a love for people. The Bible tells us love your brother as yourself so that’s why we’re doing it.
“We have to speak up for those who can’t do it for themselves. My faith is ultimately what led me to start protesting and it’s what continues to drive me. Faith without works is dead. I feel like the past year before we started protesting, the Lord has prepped me for this moment.”

Later in the story, we hear from another player:

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Praying during NFL chaos: Ray Lewis pleads with journalists to pay closer attention

Praying during NFL chaos: Ray Lewis pleads with journalists to pay closer attention

Who knew that journalists would ever need instant-replay technology in order to cover what is, and what is not, taking place during pre-game performances of the national anthem?

I don't watch much National Football League action these days, not because I've cut the cable TV cord or because I am involved in some kind of boycott. No, I'm an ex-Baltimore guy who no longer gets to watch his team (no way I'm buying an NFL cable package). I do watch the Tennessee Titans, and that's pretty much that.

However, I have been tuning in some of the games long enough to follow the protests. I have noticed something that I think is interesting, something that might be of interest to sports journalists (and even religion-beat reporters). There might be a news angle here.

What? Some of the players' lips are moving. Yes, some are singing along to the national anthem. But others are clearly saying things and not to each other. Some of these players are kneeling. Some of them are standing.

Trigger warning to paranoid NFL officials: These players may be praying.

For example, take a close look at the video at the top of this post. Please watch the whole thing.

What do you see? Well, there are Ravens players with their hands lifted. In some religious traditions, especially among charismatic or Pentecostal Christians, this is a symbol of prayer. But let's play special attention to retired linebacker Ray Lewis, who is -- to say the least -- an outspoken Christian and social activist.

Early in the video, Lewis is shown kneeling -- on one knee -- with other Ravens players. However, pay close attention a minute and a half (1:25) into the video. Lewis is now on both knees and, read his lips, it is pretty clear that he is praying.

So, has Lewis joined the Black Lives Matter protest against police violence or not? This is a crucial, and newsworthy, issue. You can see this in the Sports Illustrated report that ran with this headline: "Added Security Posted Near Ray Lewis Statue After Lewis Kneels for Anthem." The key: It is stated as fact that Lewis took part in the protest by players.

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Amen to former GetReligionista's question: Why'd a Muslim NBA player skip the national anthem?

Amen to former GetReligionista's question: Why'd a Muslim NBA player skip the national anthem?

You can take the journalist out of GetReligion.

But apparently, you can't take GetReligion out of the journalist.

Mark Kellner, a former contributor to our esteemed website, now covers faith news as a national reporter for the Deseret News.

This week, Kellner called on his experience as a holy ghostbuster.

The top of the Deseret News report:

He did. Until he said he didn't. Either way, the pregame actions of Dion Waiters, a guard with the Cleveland Cavaliers in Wednesday's game in Salt Lake City, have focused attention on whether or not Islam allows adherents to participate in patriotic rituals — and why initial media reports didn't ask that question.
The game, in which Utah Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward scored a buzzer-beating shot to win the game 102-100, began with a bit of drama when Waiters, coming off a suspension, didn't make it to courtside during the playing of the national anthem.
Reporter Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group initially quoted Waiters as saying he skipped the anthem because the athlete "was just acting in accordance with what he feels his religious beliefs are."

From there, Kellner noted that the Ohio story changed over the next 24 hours, with the reporter citing "miscommunication" between the player and himself and Waiters taking to Twitter to declare his patriotism.


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