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What is the Christian Answer to the Nike Controversy?

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Nike recently released an ad that is causing controversy among conservatives. The campaign features former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who of course is perhaps best known for his “kneel down” protests during the National Anthem. The fact that he is the spokesperson for the new Nike ad has many up in arms and wondering where, if anywhere, believers and those to the right politically should come down on the issue.

The basis of the controversy surrounding Nike’s spokesperson is primarily because of the groups who have affiliated themselves with the kneeling protests started by Kaepernick. Groups like the Black Lives Movement have applauded Kaepernick’s efforts, and thus the two “protesting groups” have been closely tied together.

Originally, the NFL protests were performed as a way to bring awareness to allegedly widespread police brutality and the perceived unfair treatment of minorities by law enforcement. Kaepernick, who was the “leader” of such protests in the NFL being named the spokesperson for a Nike campaign presents some issues for those who might not agree with everything Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter have done to show their displeasure. In addition, many who support the military see the protests as disrespectful to the nation since they are primarily performed during the National Anthem. Of course, those who participate in the protests routinely say they are not attempting to disrespect the country but that is neither here nor there.

As the President of America’s largest Christian university, Liberty, Jerry Falwell Jr. finds himself in a difficult situation when it comes to the school’s Nike contract. Currently, the school is under contract with the company to provide gear and uniforms to their large Division I sports program. Falwell now has a choice to make: cut ties with Nike over their choice of spokesperson or remain in contract with them, even if perceived beliefs of the company and the school are at odds.

Presently, Falwell is adopting a wait and see approach before making the decision to end their contract with Nike. He said he wants to first figure out whether or not the company agrees with the NFL protests popularized by Kaepernick before taking action.

“If Nike really does believe that law enforcement in this country is unfair and biased, I think we will look around,” he said. “If we have a contract, we’ll honor it, but we strongly support law enforcement and strongly support our military and veterans who died to protect our freedoms and if the company really believes what Colin Kaepernick believes, it’s going to be hard for us to keep doing business with them.”

Fallwell is far from alone. Private Christian school College of the Ozarks has already made the decision to suspend their agreement, becoming the first school to make the move. President of the College of the Ozarks, Jerry C. Davis was very clear in his announcement.

“If Nike is ashamed of America, we are ashamed of them,” he said. “We also believe that those who know what sacrifice is all about are more likely to be wearing a military uniform than an athletic uniform.”

He is of course referring to the campaign’s message, “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”

There is no right and wrong answer here. Each believer must search his or her heart and determine whether or not the campaign and their choice of spokesman is enough to merit cutting ties with Nike. While no one can make anyone purchase additional products from a company they do not want to support, it is worth noting that destroying perfectly good shoes and clothing items does no one any good.

If a person no longer wants to wear their Nike apparel, they should consider donating it to someone in need and purchasing replacements from another company. Destroying them takes nothing away from Nike, but does take away good clothing and shoes that could be used to provide for someone less fortunate.

~ 1776 Christian


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