White Christianity, Flags, and Football by Gina Messina

While Puerto Rico has faced its worst natural disaster in over a century; Trump has once again used trumpfoolery to distract his base from his failed action in assisting Americans in crisis by starting a fight with the NFL. It seems a fitting plot for the reality show television host turned fake politician/president.

People are dying in the streets with no access to water or medication. It is expected to take four months to restore power to the island and everyday mothers take their children to stand in line for a minimum of twelve hours to get two packs of ice – hopefully, a few more if their children are allowed a share as well.

Rather than mobilizing efforts to bring aid to Puerto Ricans, Trump has diverted attention from his failure by ranting that NFL players should be fired for disrespecting the American flag by taking a knee during the national anthem. It is no surprise that our fake president is unable to make the connection between the peaceful protests and lack of rights for every American – he likely thinks that Rosa Parks was protesting the transportation system. Even so, this is a low point for Trump. Ignoring a national crisis, the death of thousands, and continued life-threatening conditions for Americans so that he can rile up his base and avoid acknowledging his failure is deplorable, to say the least.

Interestingly, Trump’s base who claim patriotism as a reason to silence “the other” and ignore the massive crises that exist for so many Americans at the moment, includes the 81% of Evangelicals and 65% of Catholics who voted for him.

While the conversation is ridiculous, I find it necessary to address the inability for so many to think critically – especially white Christians – about the issues at hand. To begin with, we must ask, what is a reasonable form of protest? The Black Lives Matter movement has been condemned in favor of the “all lives matter” retort. Sadly, so many do not understand that all lives will never matter if black lives do not matter too.

Trump has also been highly critical of celebrities who have spoken out and challenged his damaging rhetoric. He threw another “trumper tantrum” when Steph Curry declined his invitation to the White House. Acting like a spoiled child who didn’t get his way, Trump took to Twitter to say that he disinvited Curry. Of course, he could never acknowledge that anyone would not want to share space with a fake president who promotes violence on the basis of bigotry, sexism, and xenophobia.

So, organizing, stopping traffic, speeches, and now taking a knee and peacefully acknowledging the human rights violations that exist in our nation are not acceptable form of protests. But carrying tiki torches while spewing hate – well, that is not only acceptable, it is the practice of free speech by those who are fine people.

And let’s be serious about the many reasons to protest the NFL. Perhaps because of the high rates of domestic violence, rape, murder, and animal abuse? Seemingly not. Of course, women and animals are barely acknowledged as having rights in our society. But finally, the NFL – an organization known for violence against women – is participating in feminist action. We cannot uproot one oppression without uprooting them all – and thus, feminism is deeply concerned with racism and all forms of systemic injustice. Taking a knee to expose police brutality, white nationalist violence, and a racist presidency is not unpatriotic – it is an invocation for justice, for reconciliation, and a call for atonement for a legacy of slavery and racial injustice.

Rather than acknowledging it for what it is, our fake president divided our nation in an effort for self-preservation disguised as a call for patriotism.

And if we are so concerned with disrespecting the flag, why not take a stand against wearing the flag as an article of clothing – particularly a thong or boxer shorts. Or perhaps using napkins decorated as the American flag to wipe our dirty and germ-infested mouths. How about a stand against wiping our asses with American flag toilet paper? These seem far more offensive than taking a knee.

Many argue taking a knee is disrespectful to our veterans; yet isn’t the attempt to silence African Americans a blatant exploitation of our military members’ service? Perhaps we should be more concerned about the lack of healthcare for veterans rather than individuals taking a knee to protest systemic violence and injustice.


We exploit the flag in so many ways and yet when an African American male peacefully protests the ongoing oppression and violence committed against people of color in our nation, masses have quickly gathered behind Trump to call for a lynching. It is disconcerting that so many who blur the cross and the flag, lack awareness of the many ways American society exploits patriotism and Christianity as a means to marginalize “the other.”

In the US we have claimed an American Jesus – an icon who carries guns, watches football, demeans women, supports Trump, and like a good patriot, values the flag over human rights.  And yet, if the historical Jesus lived today, many would be surprised find that he would stand against all that they hold dear. Jesus would take a knee on the field, organize the oppressed, and demand social justice in a nation corrupt by power and greed.

Gina Messina, Ph.D. is an American feminist scholar, Catholic theologian, author, and activist, and is Co-founder of FeminismandReligion.com. Her new book Jesus in the White House: Make Humanity Great Again called “needed antidote to current anguish” by Sr. Simone Campbell, is now available. 

Categories: Race and Religion, Racism, Social Justice

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. Powerful essay.

    “…he could never acknowledge that anyone would not want to share space with a fake president who promotes violence on the basis of bigotry, sexism, and xenophobia.”

    You articulated my thoughts on critical thinking. Have we become so blind/stupid that we cannot discern the obvious – the difference between Puerto Rico’s crisis and an idiot president who picks fights like a toddler to distract us from genuine suffering?

    There is still a part of me that cries out in this (crazy) “man made” wilderness – how can this be?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Sara, Thanks so much for sharing here – I wake up everyday and ask that question. It is such a scary time. Critical thinking is no longer valued or encouraged and that is so clear by the very fact that so many continue to support Trump. Ugh.


  2. Puerto Rico is an island surrounded by water that body of water is the Atlantic Ocean

    Before the ships carrying supplies could get to PR the ports had to be reopened which were completely destroyed and washed away by the Hurricane

    The water that the ships would be traveling through was filled with debris from the ports ~ docks ~ land that the Hurricane dumped into it

    After the time consuming clean up of the debris in the water the navigational maps had to be redrawn so the ships would know where they could enter into port in the areas that had already been cleared of debris

    All of this unfortunately took time it couldn’t be helped

    ♦FYI ships cannot travel over any debris in the water it will tear up the hull and the ship would likely sink

    Once the ports were open once again to the ships delivering supplies the PR people did nothing to drive their vehicles to port to pick up those supplies

    President Trump took care of that matter also

    The Governor of PR highly praised President Trump for his “swift” response in help care and supplies

    Not sure where you’re getting your misinformed information from perhaps “late night” TV comedians


    As for the NFL the majority of the American People have physically spoken their feeling on that one

    NFL ticket sales down 18%

    NFL TV ratings down 10%

    Refunds from Sunday Package NFL

    Sponsors dropping NFL

    As well as NFL gear being set aflame by Fans in their disgust for the political views and disrespect of the American Flag being broadcasted on the FootBall Stadium Playing Field

    Which by the way is funded and paid for by the American Taxpayer (the Fans) to the tune of $$$ Billions of $$$ each year

    Why is it in your estimation too much for the Fans to ask for a simple bit of time to watch NFL games with enjoyment relaxation and fun


    500K America People back to work who now by the way have money in their pockets to enjoy life

    Stock Market rallies the highest ever for continuous days weeks months

    401Ks see money flowing in

    Middle America is thriving

    Growth up 3.5% (during the 8 years of Obama there was 0% growth)

    Restrictions that were strangling businesses (that Obama put in place) President Trump got rid of those restrictions and business is growing and able to hire more people due to it

    …now that’s what a real President does



    • And now your president is sending mean tweets of the mayor of San Juan. Perhaps that is ok with you but people are dying there and he has been way more focused on football and who stands and kneels than helping. The stock market only helps those who have money and/or good jobs. It does not help the masses at all. The growth is only 2 per cent and no economist sees that improving. I have no idea from whence your data comes, but some of it is not correct.

      And as for respecting the flag, which the protest is not about, anyone who wears anything resembling it, or uses napkins and such with the flag on it is disrespecting the flag. Take a look at flag rules.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It surprises me that you think that America is being put first. Trump has us on the verge of nuclear war because of his ego, people in Puerto Rico are dying because of his lack of skill and empathy. That he does not recognize the role of a president during such a crisis is outrageous. And as for late night news…something for you to consider: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fUDIucr2eo


    • So you are saying that the navy could maneuverer bombs floating in the ocean and intense enemy fire to land assault troops on beaches, but can’t land on a friendly beach to help Americans? And the US Air Force could drop supplies behind enemy lines but can’t drop bottled water, personnel, or necessities of life in regions suffering damage from a hurricane.
      Gimmeabreak, and some valid links to the statistics you are stating!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Actually, Puerto Rico is in the Caribbean Sea. And, actually, the oceans and seas that are connected are all part of a world ocean. But the Troll-in-Chief has no knowledge or geography, and besides, he probably thinks all those Puerto Ricans must be foreigners.

    As for “taking a knee”–where did that phrase come from?–in protest, I usually decline to stand up when the national anthem is played because I’m ashamed of what is happening in the U.S. I think Kaepernick said what he was protesting, but the mouth of trumpfoolery (love that word! did you invent it?) turned protesting the murders black men by white cops into anti-flag and anti-military protesting because he was elected to disrupt and that’s what he’s doing. He has no idea how to govern. He’s just turning the United States into a reality show.

    Thanks for posting. How can we get Jesus out of the White House?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jesus in the White House isn’t the problem, it’s people who say they are Christians but have no idea what Jesus taught. I refuse to let them take over the idea that they represent what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Their fruit isn’t from that tree.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Barbara and Gina–you’re right. It’s not Jesus. He was a great and respectable teacher. What I mean is that people who proclaim their so-called Christianity ought to read and study and act in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount. I think that’s when we’d see true Christianity. What d’you think?

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Barbara, first, yes – I did invent “trumpfoolery” (at least I haven’t seen it elsewhere!) -I’m glad you like it as much as I do. So fitting, isn’t it? And your response here is so perfect – you took the words right out of my mouth!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sara Wright really has one of the best comments I think — and her thoughts crying out in this (crazy) “man-made” wilderness — very important here.


  6. This was the first time I’ve heard/watched Trump as president post the election. I cannot. Wow. I guess it makes sense (by that I mean that much of humanity is stepping on the gas pedal to the end of the darkest age we’ve known, to the potential destruction of our humanity and/or earth, and why wouldn’t that humanity want a representative of the extreme wealth, reality celebrity status, and undeveloped critical mind? – of course it would).

    Thank you, Gina. For this well-informed piece. You do so much work, and we all benefit. Thank you for informing us.


  7. GIna, Thank you for doing what I am ashamed to say the Catholic bishops won’t do with nearly as much clarity and power as you do. They speak of “evangelizing” but have lost the gift of prophecy. It’s the women of the church who most inspire. https://dawnmorais.com/2017/09/30/lt-gen-silverias-tutorial-in-leadership-will-catholic-bishops-offer-a-better-idea-too/


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