A pastor in Alabama trashed Colin Kaepernick and cut up a Nike headband and wristband during Sunday’s sermon. In response, the pastor’s mostly white audience gave him a standing ovation.
At the 47:06 mark of that sermon, Rev. Mack Morris of Mobile’s Woodridge Baptist Church claimed the Nike gear was his own and that he would no longer use it after the company’s recent ad campaign featuring Kaepernick, who famously kneeled at football games during the National Anthem in protest of racial inequality and police brutality. Morris then destroyed the workout equipment to the delight of the congregation.
“I’ve bought my last pair of Nike shoes,” Morris said.
The reason? Morris, during a sermon titled “The Storms of Life,” said it was in protest to the Oregon-based apparel company’s recent advertising campaign centered around Colin Kaepernick, the professional football player who was the first athlete to take a knee during the national anthem that triggered a firestorm of controversy that exists to this day.
“He’s inked a contract with Nike,” Morris said during his sermon. “No one knows or is telling how many multi-million dollars that is going to be simply because he won’t stand when the national anthem is sung.”
Considering Nike has seen a huge spike in online orders following the ad’s release, I don’t think the company is too worried about a senior pastor’s used sweatbands. (There are legitimate reasons to boycott Nike, including their historically atrocious labor abuses. Condemning the Kaepernick ad? That’s just silly.)
Morris continued, “America may not be the best country in the world and we have a lot of faults, but I tell you what, a lot of folks died for the sake of what the flag represents.”
Morris received a standing applause.
The church members depicted on the video, most of whom appeared to be white, stood in applause after the nonsensical act of defiance. It didn’t make sense because “what the flag represents” isn’t standing and pledging blind allegiance to the nation. If anything, the flag stands for equality and the right to speak freely and protest. Kaepernick was raising awareness of a serious problem in order to make our country better. He wasn’t denigrating the military or declaring himself ashamed to be an American. Nike knew that. We can debate whether their ad campaign was sincere or simply a piece of marketing, but they knew that defending Kaepernick’s protest was better for business than taking the side of Morris and others like him.
Not only did Morris not understand the purpose of the protest, his congregation celebrated their collective ignorance. (It’s not the first time a congregation has stood up to applaud something awful…)
The optics of a predominantly white church clapping in condemnation of a black man who was raising awareness of racial injustice isn’t a good one. But it’s also not surprising.