Last weekend, Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson gave the opening prayer before NASCAR’s Duck Commander 500 race in Texas.
His invocation included a wish that a Christian man make his way into the White House:
We got here via bibles and guns. I’m fixed to pray to the one who made that possible. Father, thank you for founding our nation. I pray, Father, that we don’t forget who brought us — You. Our faith in the blood of Jesus and his resurrection. Help us, Father, to get back to that.
Help us, Dear God, understand that the men and women on my right are the U.S. military. On my right, and on my left, our faith in you and the U.S. military is the reason we’re still here.
I pray, Father, we put a Jesus man in the White House.
Help us do that, and help us all to repent, to do what’s right to love you more and to love each other. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
As I said before, there were so many problems with his comments — his dismissal of the Jewish Bernie Sanders, his dismissal of the female Hillary Clinton, his dismissal of the fact that we already have a Christian in the White House — but motorsports enthusiast Dave Moody found something else profoundly disturbing about this invocation.
It confirmed every stereotype outsiders have of NASCAR culture:
One wonders how Jewish, Hindu, Islamic or Buddist fans feel in the midst of NASCAR’s weekly, Christian-based pre-race prayer, not to mention those who happen to be agnostic or atheist. How must they feel when their favorite sport hands the microphone — week after week — to a series of “Jesus-men,” at the exclusion of all others?
Lots of words come to mind. “Welcome,” however, is not one of them.
It’s not about whether or not you agree with Phil Robertson. Plenty of people do, and plenty do not. It’s also not about whether you think we need a Jesus-man in the White House. It’s about welcoming everyone — people of all races, genders, religions and political beliefs — to our sport. Disenfranchising large numbers of current and potential fans by praying [publicly] to one (and only one) God makes as little sense as alienating others by flying the Confederate flag.
It is short-sighted in the extreme, and its time is long passed.
He’s absolutely on point. There are atheists who enjoy NASCAR, but they know full well that NASCAR doesn’t give a damn about them. If the sport wants to expand its fan base, this is the wrong way to do it.