Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas, said Monday that NFL players kneeling to protest during the national anthem should thank God they don’t have to worry about being shot in the head “like they would be in North Korea.”
Jeffress, an adviser to President Donald Trump, made the comment during an appearance in the Fox & Friends show, where the hosts and guests tend to be friends of the Trump administration.
Monday’s show dealt with the hot topic of the weekend: Trump’s rhetorical campaign against NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality.
The president said football teams should fire the protesters, calling the act of taking a knee “total disrespect.”
Jeffress — a member of the president’s evangelical advisory group — agreed with Trump, as he usually does. Unprompted, he drew a connection between the NFL controversy and North Korea, whose leaders have engaged in a war of words with Trump.
“These players ought to be thanking God that they live in a country where they’re not only free to earn millions of dollars every year, but they’re also free from the worry of being shot in the head for taking the knee like they would be in North Korea,” the pastor said to Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt. “And I think tens of millions of Americans agree with President Trump when he says they ought to be called out for this.”
Jeffress said there is “a better way to protest social injustice without disrespecting our country,” but he didn’t elaborate on his preferred method of protest.
In response to a string of headlines about Jeffress’ comments, the pastor issued a written statement doubling down on them.
“I stand by my comments as taken within their full context,” the statement said. “It is an absolute fact that in many countries of the world professional athletes would be imprisoned — or worse — for publicly opposing their nation’s anthem or disrespecting their national leaders. If any member of the press doubts this fact then I would encourage them to take a trip to North Korea themselves, publicly shame Kim Jong-un, and then see what happens.”
He added: “All of us should thank God every day that we live in a country where we do not have to fear government persecution for expressing our beliefs.”
On Sunday, more than 200 players decided not to stand for The Star-Spangled Banner, and many of them locked arms in solidarity with their teammates and coaches.
Even some of Trump’s football friends have challenged his statements. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, a Trump supporter, called the president’s comments “just divisive.”
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SOURCE: The Dallas Morning News – Julieta Chiquillo