Take a knee

There is always a struggle for control of shared identity. This is normal and entirely appropriate. A part of a whole body which feels insifficiently represented certainly has a right, and may have an obligation to demonstrate the change they require, resist practices and structures they believe to be ill-advised, and protest in a way that refrains from harming fellow-creatures.

Most change movements either do or do not receive suport from a group perceived to be "mainstream", after which significant culture-shift does or does not actually occur. As one of the markers of mainstream shift has frequently been the support of more "conservative" people who are both religious and comitted to democracy and the freedom of religion, I would like to ask that you propose to your congregation a move toward solidarity with those who explicitly and publicly object to racism in the cultural insitutions of the United States. Furthermore, I ask that you spcifically tie your faith to the demand to end racism, especially if you are Christian, as is required by the deeply understood and unwavering compassion that is the undisputed central tenant of our faith.

Finally, as our Republic shines only insofar as it remains the land of the free, I ask that you place your hand over your heart and join me in upholding patriotism itself as an unwavering commitment, not to a party or leader, but to a Dream in which every person is lifted up by the restorative justice and determined compassion of their fellows so that no parent need fear for their child, officers of the peace may once again be celebrated for their daily heroism, immigrants may once again feel our shores to be sanctuary, and all those in leadership maybe judged solely on their selfless commitment to public service above their personal interests.



Hi Brandon,

Thank you for planting the seed for having the church participate in taking a knee during the national anthem. M.O. and I have discussed this and have some thoughts to share. Neither of us like the idea of doing this inside the church. Both of us are uncomfortable, er, anti having anything to do with flags/nationalism/patriotism inside the sanctuary. For both of us that's a big no-no. We do think it is important for religious people to take a stand by taking a knee. Proposal: let's have an interfaith game. Soccer, flag football, softball, whatever. We open with the national anthem sung by a combined choir where everyone takes the knee. We get to play, sing, and take a stand/knee together in an appropriate context. Let me know what you think.



Totally legit response. These concerns are a big reason I asked for prayerful consideration. What you are proposing sounds awesome, and I'm all for it, and would take a while to organize, and mostly loses the power of the statement being made by significantly pink mainstream Christians. We might miss the moment when the larger culture-shift could use some religious people buy-in to expand the #takeaknee symbol from Sports to the nation. What if our video statement were shot on the stairs in front of the church, people coming out after worship and creating a choir all taking a knee and placing a hand over their hearts, or linking arms (if they prefer) to reclaim principled patriotism all the while obviously keeping it out of the sanctuary and on the street?

--Brandon WilliamsCraig.....2017-09-24 22:08:36 UTC

Star-Spangled Banner

--Brandon WilliamsCraig.....2017-09-24 23:11:59 UTC


As often is the case for me, your eloquent way of expressing ideas requires my own "translation" before I can digest what you said. The way you spoke before church was much simpler, concrete and easy for me to follow. That said, I'd like to echo what someone else said on FB re keeping patriotism and flags out of sanctuary. I support doing an action on the steps. And, I don't like putting my hand on my heart when nationalism/patriotism is the issue. So that image is difficult for me. Just thoughts for the discussion.

--Brandon WilliamsCraig.....2017-09-24 23:22:58 UTC


With all this talk of #TakeTheKnee, I could not help and think about being in grade school.

I grew up in a rather conservative area for California, in eastern Kern County. I remember in school that the Jehovah's Witness classmates would not stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Some of them would get crap for it but I admired them for being committed to their faith *and* practicing their Constitutional right to remain seated. In this country, they have the right to practice their conviction.

This protest within the NFL, and now in other professional sports leagues, is not about the flag. It never has been about the flag. It is about police brutality and racial inequality in this country. Some are offended because of the sacrifice the troops make, and you're right -- this is about the fact that our men and women in the service go out to protect the freedoms we claim to have while in reality they are compromised and undermined by the system to put POC in a disadvantage. These athletes, like the Jehovah's Witnesses, have the right to practice their conviction, remain seated, and bring awareness to the ugly reality.

And you know what? The Early Christians would be rolling in their graves to see Christians today exploding over this. Followers of the Way have no business in Nationalism through swearing allegiance to the empire or by displaying the flag in our houses of worship. And as we sung this morning at St. John's Cathedral, "In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north; but one great fellowship of Love throughout the whole wide world." Rant over.

--Brandon WilliamsCraig.....2017-09-25 04:19:53 UTC


--Brandon WilliamsCraig.....2017-09-25 04:29:47 UTC


Logistically, kneeling and stairs are not the best of friends. Perhaps the Hopkins Street lawn/sidewalk? My personal concerns/considerations are bullet pointed (no particular order):
  • The anthem itself. Celebrating war, drenched in racism... I don't feel that I can in good conscious sing The Song of Peace (This is my song, O God of all the nations) in church, and then walk outside and sing the national anthem. 
  • I don't think the National Anthem should be played before games anyway. It's mostly empty, habitualized patriotism. So in regards to my previous email, and with more consideration, I'm a much bigger fan of taking a silent knee. 
  • Is a photo of people taking a knee just as powerful as a video with a song? 
  • I don't know what "pink mainstream Christians" means? Churches have been leaders in the NFL boycott already (see 'Blackout') link below. 
  • Kap first took a knee over a year ago. I'm slightly confused by what feels like sudden urgency. I'm also happy that people care and want to support/participate in taking a knee and fighting oppression. 
  • Messaging: clarity is needed on what the action/s are and why. What does it mean, and what are you/we trying to say or achieve? 
  • I strongly encourage you, if you haven't already, to visit Kap's website. The knee and off-field actions go hand and hand. Taking a knee and doing nothing else is an empty gesture. 
  • Another idea: use this moment as an opportunity to join together to take a silent knee as a kick-off to a call for some kind of action/s inspired by the blackout or Kap's mission statement.   
Reading on the subject:
OpEd: Colin Kaepernick and the Racist History of Our National Anthem:

The History Behind Kaepernick Protest: How the National Anthem and Sports First Became Linked:
Will 'Blackout' Be the Movement to Shut Down the NFL?
Article includes actions taken by churches including:
The #BlackOut movement advocates four action steps:
  1. Boycott the NFL (no games, no fantasy football, no jerseys, no nothing).
  2. Commit one to two hours during the NFL season that you would have spent watching games to mentoring young black boys and girls.
  3. Spread the word to others.
  4. “Take a knee” in prayer at 6 a.m. each day.

Stated mission: "The mission of the Colin Kaepernick Foundation is to fight oppression of all kinds globally, through education and social activism."

--Brandon WilliamsCraig.....2017-09-26 00:36:44 UTC

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