“When I was there singing, I heard them saying, ‘build that wall! build that wall!’”
Students and the leadership from a Kentucky all-male Catholic high school are under fire after videos showing a Native American, a Vietnam veteran, appearing to be harassed, intimidated, and insulted during the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington, D.C. on Saturday.
In videos that went viral, one student in particular can be seen standing extremely close to Nathan Phillips, a 64-year old Vietnam veteran, Native American elder, and activist who is also the previous director of the Native Youth Alliance, The Washington Post reports.
Phillips is “a ‘keeper of a sacred pipe,’ who leads an annual ceremony honoring Native American veterans in Arlington National Cemetery, according to Indian Country Today.”
The videos (some below) show students in Covington Catholic High School clothing, many wearing iconic red Trump campaign “MAGA,” or, “Make America Great Again” hats, scarves, and sweatshirts. Their names and ages are not known, nor has it been established that all attend Covington Catholic.
(NCRM in the image above has chosen to partially blur their faces as they are presumably minors not charged by law enforcement with a crime.)
They appear to be mimicking and mocking Phillips and the other Native Americans, while surrounding several of the marchers. They can be seen shouting, jumping about, and otherwise disrespecting the participants, and detracting from the ceremony.
“When I was there singing, I heard them saying, ‘build that wall! build that wall!’” Phillips, who looks saddened and appears to be wiping away tears, says in the video below. “This is indigenous land—not supposed to have walls here. We never [did] for millennium.”
Nathan Philips of the Omaha Nation speaking on what happened from @/ka_ya11 IG. pic.twitter.com/XBf1kTf8a5
— Unceded Clothing (@UncededClothing) January 19, 2019
“Before anybody else came here, you never had walls, you never had a prison,” he can be heard saying. “We always too care of our elders. We took care of our children.”
The students had traveled from Northern Kentucky, home of Covington Catholic High School, to the nation’s capital, to attend the anti-choice March for Life, an annual event organized by the far right that attracts activists working to suppress women’s healthcare rights.
It’s even worse when you see the full mob effect. pic.twitter.com/Oe7Zn5srOB
— Lulu Says (@lulu_says2) January 19, 2019
Phillips, in an interview with The Washington Post, “said he felt threatened by the teens and that they suddenly swarmed around him as and other activists were wrapping up the march and preparing to leave.”
“It was getting ugly, and I was thinking: ‘I’ve got to find myself an exit out of this situation and finish my song at the Lincoln Memorial,’ ” Phillips recalled. “I started going that way, and that guy in the hat stood in my way and we were at an impasse. He just blocked my way and wouldn’t allow me to retreat.”
So, he kept drumming and singing, thinking about his wife, Soshana, who died from bone marrow cancer nearly four years ago, and the various threats that face indigenous communities around the world, he said.
After shuttering its social media accounts, Covington Catholic High School released a statement apologizing and promising to investigate.
“We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person,” the statement reads, as NBC affiliate WLWT reports.
“The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.We know this incident also has tainted the entire witness of the March for Life and express our most sincere apologies to all those who attended the March and all those who support the pro-life movement.”
I dgaf if they are minors. They need to be identified. What school are they from? Who was chaperoning them? This is one of the most horrific displays of ignorance, racism & disrespect. My god. I feel sick. pic.twitter.com/oUsiVY5pNA
— Lulu Says (@lulu_says2) January 19, 2019
Yahoo News added important context, noting for people attending the Indigenous Peoples March “it’s an especially fraught time as the government shutdown is interfering with many basic services for Native Americans. This comes months after the Supreme Court ruled against Native voting rights in North Dakota, and just days after the president cracked jokes on Twitter about historic massacres.”
For some reason the original video was deleted.
— Simar (@sahluwal) January 19, 2019
UPDATE: Editor’s note – There has been a great deal of debate across the nation, especially as more and longer videos appear, as to what exactly happened. The students of Covington Catholic strongly deny they were being disrespectful or harassing Nathan Phillips. Many believe Phillips’ version of events, and say the new and longer videos support their conclusions.
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Meet the ‘Exvangelicals’: Young Christians Fleeing the Church for Getting in Bed With Trump
‘Just Blatantly Hypocritical’
As hardcore Christian evangelical leaders continue to embrace President Donald Trump, younger churchgoers are having a harder time reconciling the words of the Bible with less-than-Christian actions of the Republican Party which supports him.
According to Newsweek, exhortations from the pulpits to support Republican positions on war and immigration are causing an exodus of some of the same young Christian voters who helped Trump get elected.
As Blake Chastain, 35, who left the church and created the podcast “Exvangelical” explained his departure: “Conservative Christianity was at odds with the teachings in the Bible.”
The report states that the flood of young believers who are abandoning the church could be disastrous for Republicans who have become used to depending upon conservative Christian leaders to turn out votes for them.
In fact, data reveals that the effects of abandonment likely impacted the 2018 midterms.
“In the 2018 midterms, exit polls showed, white evangelicals backed Republicans by 75 to 22 percent, while the rest of the voting population favored Democrats 66 to 32 percent,” Newsweek’s Nina Burleigh writes. ”But evangelicals were slightly less likely to support House Republicans in 2018 than they were to support Trump in 2016—which may have contributed to the Democrats’ pickup of House seats. Trump’s support actually declined more among white evangelical men than women. The 11-point gender gap between evangelical men and women from 2016 shrank to 6 in the midterms.”
According to Chastain, who once dreamed of joining a seminary, younger Christians are increasingly appalled at continuing attacks at marginalized communities — which they view as being uncharitable compared to the words of Jesus.
“Even people like me, a white male with a lot of societal privilege, can see that evangelical leaders are completely happy to join forces with white nationalist politicians and leaders and to give them the benefit of the doubt while they are attacking marginalized communities,” says Chastain. “And that’s just blatantly hypocritical.”
To make his point, he added, “The fact is that leaders like [Dallas megachurch leader and Trump supporter] Robert Jeffress and Jerry Falwell Jr. are blatantly power hungry and willing to make these alliances, providing a theology that supports white nationalism.”
Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention — who admits he didn’t vote for Trump, — backs up Chastain, but says he is hopeful that he can hang onto younger Christians by adjusting the message to them.
“With Generation X, millennial and Generation Z evangelicals, there is a deep suspicion of any cynical use of religion for worldly purpose,” Moore explained. “So one has to motivate them differently than one would, say, the kind of television evangelist demographic that many secular people think of when they think of evangelicalism. When I am in a group of older evangelicals, my message is typically ‘Seek first the kingdom of God. Political idolatry will kill us. Let’s remember what is transcendently important.’ But when I talk to younger evangelicals, I am dealing with the opposite problem and saying one cannot simply withdraw from political life in overreaction to some dispiriting actions that have taken place.”
Christopher Maloney, 32, who not only abandoned evangelical Christianity but released a documentary film called “In God We Trump,” claims those who left the church may never return.
“People around my age and younger were already deconstructing their evangelical faith in large numbers before Trump came along,” he stated. “What the 2016 election did was accelerate what was already happening. We had begun edging toward the doors, and when evangelicals embraced Trump we bolted outside. To be honest, I don’t see a return of younger generations to the church as we know it.”
You can read the whole report here.
Image via The White House/Twitter
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