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All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Sun, March 3 2019 5:39 AM UTC +00:00.

Donald J. JohnsonBy Donald J. Johnson
First created
Donald J. JohnsonBy Donald J. Johnson
First created
$251
pledged of $128,000pledged of $128,000 goal
8
backers
8days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Sun, March 3 2019 5:39 AM UTC +00:00.

About

 The Story Behind Taking a Knee 

The last few years have been a very revealing time for me.  

For most of my adult life, I've been a member of what author Robert Jones calls White Christian America, and frankly, I thought I knew it pretty well. 

That changed in 2016.

Two events that year caused me to question and re-evaluate some of my beliefs about that community.

The first was the rise to power of Donald Trump. 

I found the fact that he was put into office by conservative Catholics and white evangelicals dumbfounding. As Christianity today wrote in the run up to the election, Trump is a man whose moral values can only be described as the very antithesis of Biblical virtue. 

What made it even worse was that Trump rose to prominence politically by explicitly stoking nationalist sentiment and racial resentment.  He kicked off his presidential bid with the famous "Mexican rapist" speech and it only went downhill from there. His entire campaign was built around calling America back to a time when white people had more power.

This reached a breaking point for me when Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the national anthem of NFL games to bring attention to a series of police shootings and brutality cases.

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Colin Kaepernick - Love is at the Root of Our Resistance

This was the ideal story for Trump, as it so neatly intertwined the nationalist and racist themes of his campaign. He condemned Kaepernick and even called on him to be fired. 

White Christian America sided with Trump.

For me, it was the last straw. 

I was hosting a lot of radio at the time, and I was saddened when I heard my fellow Christians dismiss the clear injustice faced by African Americans in this country and throw in with a demagogue. As I wrote then, it was an attitude that was clearly anti-Jesus.

It was time to get to the bottom of this. Where did this come from? Is this a recent development within American Christianity, or has there always been something wrong in the movement that I just didn't realize? 

So I flung myself into research and was astounded by what I found.

A few of the books I've been devouring lately.
A few of the books I've been devouring lately.

It turns out that I had been taught a bunch of myths. What I thought I knew about American history regarding race and about American Christianity's role in that history was simply false. I had been blind, not only to my own movement's history, but to what was still happening right in front of me.

And suddenly a lot of current events made a lot more sense. I understood now how White Christian America could throw in with Trump, and also why they were against Kaepernick. It turns out that both of those positions are solidly in line with their history.

And that is what this campaign is about. My new film project is called Taking a Knee and it is about setting that record straight, about telling the real story of White Christian America.

In this film we will explore the story of racism in this country, particulary as it relates to America Christianity. And in doing so we will examine the myths that White Christian Americans cling to, including:

  • Racism isn't a very big problem in America; it was largely dealt with in the 1960s and now is only brought up by those who want to profit from a perceived victim status. 
  • Racism, if it happens at all, is an individual thing practiced by only a few extremists who mostly live in the deep South. It is not systematic or institutional.
  • In the past, racism was only practiced by godless Democrats, never serious Christians. 
  • Any attempt to call out racism is part of a leftist political agenda.
  • If we just stopped talking so much about racism, everything would be better.
  • People live segregated lives because they want to, and that kind of segregation is totally fine.
  • God’s primary goal is for people to live comfortably and make a lot of money and he specifically set aside America as the place all people could do that best.
  • Everyone has an equal shot at this American Dream if they just apply themselves and work hard.
  • Racism is very low on God’s priority list. He just isn't that concerned about it, especially compared to things like churches keeping their tax exempt status.
  • Support for Donald Trump and rejection of Colin Kaepernick's protest have nothing to do with racism. The fact that his racist rhetoric did not disqualify him says nothing about the values of the people who voted for him.

Every one of these propositions is demonstrably false, as innumerable works of scholarship and the lives of every single African American person in the country can attest, and I plan to tell that story in this movie. But I need your help. Please join me on this journey and help get this film made. Your donation, no matter how big or small, will make a huge difference.

Thank you!

Don Johnson, Producer


About Don

Donald J. Johnson is an independent filmmaker and the founder of Runaway Planet Pictures. He has written, directed, and produced the critically acclaimed films Unprotected and Convinced. 

He is also an author, speaker, and radio show host.


Some Wisdom from Lecrae   

Thank you Rewards

Thank you so much for your support of this film project! As a small token of our appreciation, we have tried to line up a variety of rewards, focusing as much as possible on merchandise and experiences that are exclusive to this campaign and will make you a big part of the process.  Please let us know if you have any questions about any of them.

Risks and challenges

My first rule of documentary filmmaking is that you have to be so passionate about your story that you are willing to fight tooth and nail to make sure it gets told. Movies are hard to make, and as a producer, if you can't deal with a lot of adversity, your film won't get finished.

Whether that means overcoming logistic and financial obstacles or ignoring the constant naysayers who hate your message, it's a part of the business that can't be avoided if one is going to be successful.

I've had to practice this rule a lot through my first two films and I expect no less from this one. I'm sure it will be a challenge to get Taking a Knee done, but I'm excited to tackle it, and am confident that it will happen, especially with your support.

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    Insider Status

    Keep up to date on everything happening behind the scenes at Taking a Knee. As a part of the production team email list, you will get exclusive insights, from updates about who we are interviewing next to members-only clips from the shoot.

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    The Movie

    Get a digital download of Taking a Knee

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    Two Movies

    Receive a digital copy of Taking a Kneel, plus a copy of Don's film Unprotected. It tells the story of how the culture became so toxic for women, from the 1960s to #MeToo. (Unprotected will be delivered in Spring of 2019, Taking a Knee is projected for fall, 2020.)

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    Three Movies

    Digital downloads of all 3 of Don's feature length documentary films: Taking a Knee, Unprotected, and Convinced. (Convinced and Unprotected will be delivered Spring, 2019, while Taking a Knee will be in Fall, 2020)

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    Your Name in the Credits

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    The DVD

    Lots of people still like to go old school, so if you want to be the first to own the DVD, this is the level for you.

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    Runaway Planet Pictures Crew Gear

    The official Runaway Planet Pictures crew T-shirt and Hat! Available exclusively to our Kickstarter supporters and on set crew, the t-shirt is high quality cotton and the hat is a very cool black Flat Bill Snapback. See story for pics.

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    Signed Memorabilia

    You'll get a personally autographed page of the original script of the movie, a signed 8x10 picture from behind the scenes on one of the shoots, and a signed official movie poster. All will be guaranteed to be signed by director Don Johnson, but we also plan on interviewing a lot of awesome people for this film, and we work on getting as many of them to sign the items as well. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised by the autographs you end up with!

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    The Making of Taking a Knee Book

    Along with the rewards from all the previous levels, you'll get a signed, personalized coffee table book with pictures and stories from pre to post production! See behind the scenes and share more personally in the film that you made possible.

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    2 VIP Passes to the Premiere

    Get 2 VIP passed to the red carpet premiere! You'll have to cover travel expenses to the event (location and date TBA), but we will put you up in a hotel and you will get a private meeting with the director, plus the opportunity to schmooze with other stars of the film.

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    The Title of Associate Producer

    Your name in the credits standing alone as an associate producer of the film. Also, a personal chat with Don and a pre-release look at the film.

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    A Local Screening with the Producer

    We will host a screening of Taking a Knee in your community, attended by director Donald Johnson. You will also get to meet personally with Don, who will take you out for dinner.

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