An Open Letter to Colin Kaepernick

An Open Letter to Colin Kaepernick

Dear Brother Kaepernick,

As I have sat and observed the firestorm that has raged over your refusal to stand during the playing of the National Anthem at the start of NFL games, I have recognized how your stand for social injustice has polarized the American people. Therefore, I would like to offer an objective view of both your position and your methods in order to enter into a solution orientated discussion about how to go about ending any and all social injustice that exists in America.

Both World and American history are full of examples of a particular people being subjected to racial, political, economic, moral, and even religious injustice. Injustice results when the government fails to protect the God-given rights of a particular group, or worse yet: it is the government itself, through its policies, laws and rulings that create the social injustice. Too often, the oppressed see their only recourse as to allow themselves to suffer under the injustice, or, just as wrong, they become vigilantes and take the law into their own hands in order to end the injustice. However, leaders throughout history who have had a biblical worldview understand that neither of these positions ever led to the end of the injustice. What then is there left to do?

There is a very powerful biblical solution that, at times, gets lost to history, until such a time that it is needed. The Children of Israel understood it. The American Founding Fathers understood it. The Christian abolitionists understood it. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. understood it. As the American people are once again being subjected to racial, political, economic, moral, and even religious injustice, it is once again time to resurrect this long forgotten principle. It is simply called An Appeal to Heaven: A Cry for Divine Justice.

Throughout American history, there have existed three historical positions on injustice. They are as follows:

  1. The “Do-nothings” – This faction acknowledges that injustice exists but advocates actions and/or policies that simply accept the status quo which allows the social injustice to continue. They don’t go far enough.
  2. Lawless and violet radical groups and individuals – This faction acknowledges that social injustice exists, but seeks to overcome evil by using evil and by using injustice to end or avenge injustice. By utilizing these methods, this group eventually becomes a mirror image of that which they claim to hate. They go too far.
  3. The Peacemakers –A Peacemaker does not advocate turning a blind eye to social injustice neither do they advocate either violence or any other unbiblical methods such as vengeance and retaliation in order to end the injustice. A true Peacemaker will in essence be the buffer which allows themselves to stand between the other two forces. Peacemakers seek advance reconciliation and restoration through biblical education. We learn of the mission and calling of the Peacemaker from the scripture passage: “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9). Dr. Brian Bailey clearly articulates both the calling and the price that is required of a Peacemaker:

True peacemakers are willing to suffer themselves in order to bring people together in oneness and acceptance of each other. Those walls that separate us are made up of such stones as self-pity, lies, jealousies, hated and pride, as well as countless other offenses. The Heavenly Peacemaker will lay upon an earthly peacemaker the suffering that is needed to bring the walls down. Sometimes both parties turn against the Peacemaker and he has to bear unjust criticism. In effect, he becomes the olive oil between the saints. In a vision I had several years ago, I saw an olive placed between two millstones that were moving in opposite directions. The olive was reduced to pulp, and out from the pulp came the olive oil that permitted the two parties to be reconciled and be at peace. The olive was the pastor. He had to pay the price to be the Peacemaker. What should a pastor do in times of persecution? He should count himself “blessed” as it says in the next verse. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Therefore, a Peacemaker seeks to overcome evil with good and has historically been the appropriate Christian response. This is, therefore, the ideal remedy for overcoming injustice. Let us allow the historical examples of other Peacemakers to guide our present day efforts.

In any conflict, you will always have extremists on both sides. Even among those who agree in principle. You have those prescribe the right remedy, those who go too far, and those who are not willing to go far enough. Depending of what group or faction you find yourself in will determine the “extremism” of the other group.

In the antebellum moral debate over slavery, there were two factions: Pro-slavery and anti-slavery. In the years leading up to the Civil War, America was essentially a two-party political system. On one side there was the pro-slavery Democratic Party. On the other side was the “do-nothing” Whig Party who claimed to be “anti-slavery” at election time, yet continually betrayed their Christian base by continually compromising with the pro-slavery Democratic forces. This resulted in pro-slavery legislation such as the Missouri Compromise and the Fugitive Slave Act, which not only accept the status-quo, but extended the reach of slavery into Northern States.

Within the anti-slavery or abolitionist ranks, there were also various factions. All agreed that slavery was immoral, yet disagreed among themselves about whet needed to be done about it. Therefore, within the anti-slavery ranks, the three primary groups could be listed as follows based upon their religious, political and ideological position:

  1. Abraham Lincoln’ s position (did not go far enough)
  2. The John Brown’s position (went too far)
  3. William Seward’s position (ideal remedy)

Abraham Lincoln’s Position – Present day American history teaches us that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. This is incorrect. The Christian abolitionists are responsible for ending the evil institution of slavery in America.  Early in his political career, Abraham Lincoln gave his “Temperance Speech of 1842” in which he weighed in against what he perceived as an extreme position. Lincoln, saw the efforts of the Christian abolitionists as using heavy-handed tactics. To Lincoln, these Christians were extremists. They were accused of “Wanting to create a theocracy” because they were using God’s law as the basis for U.S. civil law and public policy.

As Lincoln himself came to see later in his life, his initial critiques of abolitionism were unfounded. To him, the abolitionists were taking things to an extreme; in reality, it was Lincoln who was not taking the correct position on the abolition of the slave trade. Lincoln’s initial political position during the Civil War was not to end slavery but rather to preserve the union.  In a letter written to Horace Greeley on August 22, 1862, Lincoln clearly presented his position:

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.

This was Abraham Lincoln’s position nearly 1 ½ years into the War. To him, saving the union was priority one and ending slavery was secondary. This present position was out of line with the divine law and was not sustainable. God’s law should be secondary to nothing else, including saving the political future of a nation. Lincoln stated that he disagreed with anyone of the two extremes who did not share “his” position. He went on in the letter to say that: “If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. Fortunately for America, he did continue by saying that he was open to change his mind should any more evidence come to light.  “I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”

John Brown’s Position – Regrettably, among the ranks of the abolitionists, there were those who were both bloodthirsty and brutal to the extreme. As is often time the case, if Satan cannot get you to do wrong, he will get you to seek the right the wrong way. While John Brown’s principled stand against the injustice of the institution of slavery was noble, the end cannot justify the means.

John Brown believed that the political process combined with peaceful resistance and civil disobedience to unjust laws had proven to be ineffective. He eventually reached the conclusion that only an armed insurrection would be the effective way to overthrow the barbaric institution of slavery. Brown lacked of both the faith and the patience necessary, which led him to use “the sword” instead. Like deceived souls before and after, he believed that he was the instrument of God’s vengeance on the southern slave owners.  This extreme position was a violation of both the 6th Commandment “You shall not murder” (Ex 20:13) and Romans 12:17-21.

In 1859 Brown’s led a failed attempt to free enslaved African Americans in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, thinking that other abolitionist would follow his lead.  He was tried in Virginia for the murder of five men, treason, and inciting a slave insurrection. Brown’s actions gave (and continued to give) a “black-eye” to the good name of otherwise peaceful advocates of abolition. He was found guilty and was hanged.   He should have heeded God’s warning: If anyone has an ear, let him hear… he who kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints (Rev 13:9-10).

William Seward’s Position – For nearly 200 years, slavery had been imported into all of the British colonies (including America) by the British crown. This story can be clearly seen in the movie Amazing Grace. One of Thomas Jefferson’s chief grievances against the King of England was the forced acceptance of slavery upon the American colonists. In his original draft of the Declaration of Independence he states:

“He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.”

After the Revolutionary War, the greatest debate that raged during the ratification of the U.S. Constitution was that debate over when and how to end slavery in America. The Constitution of the United States included several godless provisions protecting the immoral institution of slavery. Section 9 of Article I made it illegal for the Federal government to ban the importation of slaves until January 1, 1808. Article V effectively protected the slave trade until the year 1808.  It was for this reason that William Lloyd Garrison called the Constitution “a covenant with death and an agreement with Hell” because it violated God’s divine law (see Exodus 21:16).

William Seward was the United States Secretary of State from 1861 to 1869. He also served as a United States Senator and Governor of New York. Seward was governor from 1839 to 1842, thanks to his abolitionist political position and track record. During his term as governor, he signed several laws protecting abolitionists and advancing the rights and opportunities for black residents. While some believed that since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that blacks could not be protected as citizens under the Constitution, Seward guaranteed the right of fugitive slaves to have jury trials in the state of New York.  Seward wrote: “Shall we establish human bondage, or permit it, by our sufferance, to be established? Sir, our forefathers would not have hesitated an hour. They found slavery existing here, and left it only because they could not remove it…. Sir, there is no Christian nation, thus free to choose as we are, which would establish slavery”

For William Seward, slavery was a violation of divine law and therefore could not end soon enough.      Even though he was regarded as the leading contender for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, he was later defeated by Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln felt immense political pressure from his political base to appoint abolitionists into high positions of political power. William Seward as Secretary of State, and abolitionist lawyer Salmon Chase, Treasury Secretary, were two such men.

On March 11, 1850, Seward gave a Speech to the United States Senate that would be titled the “Higher Law Speech.” Seward recognized the sublime truth that as government officials, they were simply acting under the divine authority of Romans and that the creator of the universe prohibited slavery in Exodus 21:16.  He felt God’s law overruled not only both state and federal law, but even the U.S. Constitution itself.

But there is a higher law than the Constitution, which regulates our authority over the domain, and devotes it to the same noble purposes. The [United States] is a part…. of the common heritage of mankind, bestowed upon them by the Creator of the universe. We are his stewards, and must so discharge our trust as to secure in the highest attainable degree their happiness.

On January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. However, the abolitionists in his cabinet saw the Emancipation Proclamation as nothing more than a political and military move used by the North to further destabilize the South, than to actually free any slaves. It seemed rather ironic that the only slaves that the Emancipation Proclamation liberated were those whom the North did not have the power to liberate. Lincoln’s secretary of state, William Seward, makes note of this irony when he declared, “We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.”

However, as the war played out, Lincoln slowly began to move into agreement with the abolitionist’s position. When pro-slavery Chief Justice Roger B. Taney died in 1864, Lincoln named the abolitionist Salmon Chase to replace him. Supreme Court Justice Salmon Chase believed that the federal government was corrupt and out of control, and that wealthy slave owners in the south and their business interests in the north were guilty of conspiracy.  What would be later known as the “The Slave Power Conspiracy,” the abolitionists believed that southern slave owners had conspired to control the federal government and were using its political and economic power as a means to expand slavery by means of the Missouri Compromise and to protect slavery with the Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott decision. Prominent men such as William Lloyd Garrison, a prominent American abolitionist, helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society. He believed that God’s law superseded the U.S. Constitution. One of Chase’s first acts as the newly appointed Chief Justice was to admit John Rock as the first African-American attorney to argue cases before the Supreme Court.

In April 15, 1865, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated with slavery still legal in America. It was not until December 6, 1865, that the 13th amendment legally abolished slavery in the United States. This was followed by The 14th Amendment to the Constitution which was ratified on July 9, 1868, which provided the newly free slaves equal protection under the law, and the 15th amendment, which was and ratified February 3, 1870, and granted former slaves the right to vote.

Now jump forward nearly 100 years. While these God-given rights of equality were now codified into American law, they existed only paper, and were not being respected in practice by the civil authorities in many southern states. Therefore, years later during the political debate over Segregation and racism in the South, there were there were essentially two factions. Those who were for Segregation and racism and those who were opposed to it. Again it was the Christian church that would serves as Peacemakers. And like the years leading up to the Civil War, there were those who prescribed the right remedy, those who go too far, and those who are not willing to go far enough. Again, depending of what group or faction you find yourself in will determine the “extremism” of the other group.

In the political debate over Segregation and racism, there were three groups. All agreed that since all men were created in the image of God, that segregation laws were immoral, yet disagreed among themselves about what needed to be done about it.  Therefore, in the anti-segregation ranks, the three primary groups could be listed as follows based upon their religious, political and ideological position:

  1. Alabama clergymen position (did not go far enough)
  2. Black Radicals position (went too far)
  3. Martin Luther Kings’ position (ideal remedy)

Alabama Clergymen Position –On April 12, 1963, eight white Alabama clergymen wrote an article titled A Call for Unity, stirring up opposition against Martin Luther Kings’ methods. This was an open letter published in Birmingham, Alabama in response to civil rights demonstrations taking place in the area at the time.

The authors of A Call for Unity had previously written An Appeal for Law and Order and Common Sense in January of the same year. In which they stated: “That every human being is created in the image of God and is entitled to respect as a fellow human being with all basic rights, privileges, and responsibilities which belong to humanity.” While the Alabama clergy agreed with MLK’s principled position, they disagreed with his call for civil disobedience, which they considered to be heavy-handed and extreme.  Instead of publicly rebuking the politicians and the courts for denying these citizens of their God-given and constitutionally protected rights, they turned their sword (pen) on their Christian Brother and fellow clergyman.

In the letter, they took issue with events that they claimed were directed in part by outsiders. The term “outsider” was a very thinly veiled reference to Martin Luther King, Jr. peaceful civil disobedience efforts. They urged the activists to engage in local negotiations and use the courts if rights were being denied rather than to protest. They wrote “We further strongly urge our own Negro community to withdraw support from these demonstrations, and to unite locally in working peacefully for a better Birmingham. When rights are consistently denied, a cause should be pressed in the courts and in negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets.”

Black Radicals Position – Malcolm X was another human rights activist in the civil rights movement. He was an African American Muslim. He didn’t believe in Martin Luther King’s pacifist methods, he believed that for there to be true change, blacks had to protest with violent force. (i.e. overcome evil, hate and prejudice with equal amounts evil hate and prejudice.) Likewise, the Black Panthers were a militant group which had the same beliefs as Malcolm X and openly called for the use of violence against whites. The group was founded by a man named Stokely Carmichael. Malcolm X eventually became the leader of the Black Muslims in the USA. On February 19, 1965 gave a speech in which stated:

In Washington D.C., in the House of Representatives, there are 257 who are Democrats; only 177 are Republican. In the Senate there are 67 Democrats; only 33 are Republicans. The Party that you backed controls two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and still they can’t keep their promise to you, ’cause you’re a chump. Anytime you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two-thirds of the government, and that Party can’t keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you’re dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that Party, you’re not only a chump, but you’re a traitor to your race.

Malcolm X was assassinated two days later, most likely by forces loyal to Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam who considered him a traitor for leaving their organization. The Black Panthers eventually fizzled out as government officials passed legislation, such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings based upon race.

Martin Luther Kings’ Position – Dr. King he believed in peaceful protests and civil disobedience to unjust laws rather than resorting to violence. MLK had not come into town to be “an agitator” He came into town to become a Peacemaker! He sought to stand between the two forces in order to use the measured Christian response of love as a means to prevent racially motivated bloodshed that existed between the police and the Black Nationalist forces, such as the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam.  Dr. King agreed in principle with the Black Nationalists, but rejected their methods. A video compilation of the position of Dr. King agreed in principle with the Black Nationalist can be seen on our website,

Dr. King understood that it was very true that the government officials in the south at the time were corrupt and out of control, and that appealing to them for justice had not and would not work. If justice took too long to be addressed with peaceful civil disobedience, it would eventually be addressed with violent bloodshed. Dr. King replied to the “Do-nothing” Alabama clergy with his now famous Letter from Birmingham Jail, arguing that civil disobedience was necessary and embraced the titled “extremist,” since it put him in very good company with others throughout world history who championed opposition to both sin and injustice. I will allow him to speak for himself:

My Dear Fellow Clergymen:

While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely…. I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid…. You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations… but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative…. Negro leaders sought to negotiate with the city fathers. But the latter consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter.

I have tried to stand between these two forces, saying that we need emulate neither the “do nothingism” of the complacent nor the hatred and despair of the Black Nationalist. For there is the more excellent way of love and nonviolent protest. I am grateful to God that, through the influence of the Negro church, the way of nonviolence became an integral part of our struggle. If this philosophy had not emerged, by now many streets of the South would, I am convinced, be flowing with blood.

And I am further convinced that if our white brothers dismiss as “rabble rousers” and “outside agitators” those of us who employ nonviolent direct action, and if they refuse to support our nonviolent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair, seek solace and security in black nationalist ideologies–a development that would inevitably lead to a frightening racial nightmare. 

Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,

Martin Luther King, Jr. 16 April 1963

            Now Brother Kaepernick, let us return to the present racial crisis that exists in America. I praise your efforts in trying to raise public awareness to injustice in America by using non-violence to spread your message. However, by wearing a Malcom X hat during your press conference is sending the wrong message. If you are going to use a role model in your campaign for social and racial justice, why would in not be Dr. King? The Black Lives Matters group is an extremist group that advocates the killing of whites and police officers. These group state the segregation is wrong, yet take a position that blacks need to separate themselves from whites.  Babu Omowale states that the Black Lives Matter, Black Panthers and other Black national groups create their own Nation within a nation by taking over many southern states.

The end game is land ownership. The endgame is our own government in a nation within a nation. Okay. So we claim the states of Louisiana, we claim the states of Mississippi, we claim the states of South Carolina, we claim the states of Alabama, and we claim the states of Georgia. We just need to start migrating back to those states and taking control of the economics in those states. If black people move in, most definitely white people will move out. So it’s not a hard process for us to have our own country within a country.

            Is this the America that you want to see? Or do you side with the Peacemakers position that echoes that call of Dr. King who had a dream that one day, right here in America, “little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. … all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

Today, we do not need a modern day Malcolm X. We need a modern day Martin Luther King Jr. – surrounded by those who understand that a revolution of love is greater than a revolution of hate. The Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said it best:

I think ultimately it comes back to love. Like I said to you guys before, it comes back to loving one another and appreciating one another. Understanding that we’re not perfect but we need to be equal. And that’s from the black community, from the white community, that’s from police officers to everybody to all of our military to everybody that we get to recognize and see — have great appreciation for what this country is based on — and what it should be based on.

Make no mistake about it. A revolution is coming. It may come upon us quickly or it may be decades away. But this sentiment has been festering below the surface for over a generation.  In a report presented to the United States Senate in May, 1966, Robert F. Kennedy is quoted as saying: “A revolution is coming – a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough – but a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability.”

His words were truer than he realized. The question is whether this eventual and inevitable revolution will be led by violent and unprincipled men, resulting in an armed and bloody conflict, or whether it will be a peaceful revolution led by Peacemakers, who are guided by divine principles and aided by Heaven itself.  We advocate the latter. I encourage you to join Peacemakers Outreach’s Appeal to Heaven Project as we seek to end racial, political, economic, moral, and even religious injustice in America.

Dr. John D. Diamond

Director – Peacemakers Outreach