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Taking a knee: Trump's evangelical adviser suggests NFL kneelers would be shot in the head in North Korea

Pastor says 'for President Trump this is not about race'

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 26 September 2017 07:14 BST
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Pastor Robert Jeffress on the campaign trail with Donald Trump
Pastor Robert Jeffress on the campaign trail with Donald Trump (Twitter/@realdonaldtrump)

One of Donald Trump's evangelical advisers has said NFL players who take a knee in protest during the national anthem should thank God they don't have to worry about being shot in the head "like they would be in North Korea."

Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas and a member of the US President's informal evangelical advisory council, made the comments on the Fox and Friends show.

“I think what these players are doing is absolutely wrong,” Mr Jeffress said.

“These players ought to be thanking God that they live in a country where they’re not only free to earn millions of dollars every year, but they’re also free from the worry of being shot in the head for taking a knee like they would be if they were in North Korea.”

Donald Trump says NFL kneeling row " has nothing to do with race"

NFL players have been kneeling during the national anthem to protest against racism. Mr Trump has repeatedly denounced such actions and suggested players who take a knee during the anthem should be fired.

But Mr Jeffress said for Mr Trump it was "not about race" but "respect of country."

“I think tens of millions of Americans agree with President Trump when he says they ought to be called out for this,” he said.

“I know this president. President Trump is not a racist. For President Trump this is not about race. It’s about respect of country.”

Responding to news reports about his comments, Mr Jeffress issued a statement to say he stood by his remarks "as taken within their full context."

"It is an absolute fact that in many countries of the world professional athletes would be imprisoned — or worse — for publicly opposing their nation's anthem or disrespecting their national leaders.," he said.

"If any member of the press doubts this fact then I would encourage them to take a trip to North Korea themselves, publicly shame Kim Jong-un, and then see what happens."

He added: "All of us should thank God every day that we live in a country where we do not have to fear government persecution for expressing our beliefs."

The pastor had previously released a statement saying Mr Trump had the moral authority to take out North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary - including war - to stop evil,” he said.

“In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-un.”

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