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.
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.
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.
Don Johnson, Producer
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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)