Bo Sanders: Public Theology

updating & innovating for today



Kneeling Honors The Founders

You are free to disagree with me.

And that is the beauty of this issue.

You are free and you disagree.

Welcome to America.


Three things I would like you to consider:

  1. America is founded on protest
  2. Protestants are the largest group in America
  3. The national anthem is too special to sing at every game


America is founded on protest. The founding fathers were literally protesting things like ‘taxation without representation’ and the divine right of kings.

Protest is baked in the American bread – it is embedded in the DNA of our nation.

So kneeling during the national anthem is the perfect time to do so and it honors the ideals that this country is based on. The timing is part of what makes the protest so poignant. It would be so much less powerful if players knelt during the first commercial time-out.

In fact, seen in a certain light, kneeling is probably the perfect way to honor this aspect of our rights as Americans. By one definition, Kneeling is a basic human position where one or both knees touch the ground. It can be used:

  • as a resting position
  • as an expression of reverence and submission
  • as a mark of respect
  • during childbirth


Protestants are the largest group in America. It always shocks me when protestants demand conformity and control. Look no further than our name to see that we are born in protest. The entire enterprise is based on the individual’s conscience. [1]

Martin Luther famously said, “here I stand and I can do no other”. An NFL player might say, “here I kneel and I can do no other”.

If you are a white person in America, you should defend player’s rights to kneel no matter how much you disagree with the timing or the message they are trying to convey about policing practices in minority communities. That is what freedom is all about.


The national anthem is too special to sing at every game. I love the singing of the national anthem at big events like the Olympics. That makes sense because the athletes are representing their country. I have never understood why we need to sing a worship song to America before we play baseball or football.

I stopped singing the national anthem before non-national games when I was an athlete living in Canada. At first, it was because I was not Canadian. Then I became a dual-citizen but it had stopped making sense to me.

I do honor the singing of the national anthem before USA Soccer matches – that makes sense because the players are in the red-white-and-blue. I swell with pride when the anthem is played after an athlete wins a medal at the Olympics.

Singing it before every single sporting event seems inappropriate. Let’s save it for international games and make it truly special.

Of course, you are free to disagree.


[1] Nerdy sidenote: the same can be said for evangelicals, fundamentalists, charismatics, and pentecostals, who call someone ‘heretical’ or claim ‘orthodoxy’. You might want to go to your nearest Orthodox church (they are very welcoming actually) and ask the man in charge what he thinks of your modern take on Christianity. Spoiler alert – you are not orthodox.

the 99 and the Tebow: success, Billy Graham and Canada

I blog both here at at Homebrewed Christianity. Sometimes after a post rotates off the front page over then I re-post it here for ongoing conversation.

Several weeks ago I had fun looking at the difference between Tim Tebow’s* faith and what his zealous (mostly evangelical & charismatic) fans do with it. I took some flack from asserting that Jesus was not intervening to help him win close games.
Since then he has lost 3 games. The choir has gone shockingly quiet. It appears – and this may come as a surprise – that Americans worship success more than any ‘god’. In fact, one might wonder if success is America’s god.

It always piques my imagination when politicians say ‘May God bless America” at the end of their speeches … I try to pay attention to how they say it and what they might be expecting that blessing to look like.

 There are two elements to this that really attract my attention:

  • Part of the reason this sticks out to me so sharply is that I have dual-citizenship with Canada. I went to High school and started Bible College there. When I see Tebow bowed on the sideline praying in the 4th quarter, I smile as I think of the completely different religious and political atmosphere in Canada. Almost every Canadian I know – even the believers – I can hear saying “Easy big guy, don’t make too much of a display”.

American zeal is a phenomenon. I have a theory that it is actually embedded in the DNA of this country courtesy of those original Calvinists who brought with them the concept of “signs of divine benevolence”. This little mechanism says
‘while we can’t know who is elect unto salvation or damnation – certainly we say that a good tree will bear good fruit. So, while no can know for sure if they are “in” certainly God graces the chosen with “signs of divine benevolence”. Continue reading “the 99 and the Tebow: success, Billy Graham and Canada”

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