A Texas church came under fire after a video showed members yelling, ‘Let’s go, Brandon.’ The controversy reveals Christians’ profanity dilemma.
Should Christians use foul language? There’s a lot of disagreement. As you might expect, some Christians get offended by it almost immediately. But some others only get offended by coarse language when someone else utters it. That’s the profanity dilemma I refer to here.
I don’t consider myself to be a prude, but once in a while, I feel like one these days.
First things first: Who’s ‘Brandon’?
You may already know the story behind the phrase, “Let’s go, Brandon.” But if you don’t, you need to because that’s where this story begins.
The phrase came out of nowhere back on Oct. 2 at a NASCAR race. NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast was interviewing driver Brandon Brown who’d just won his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
As NPR tells it, someone in the crowd behind was yelling “F*** Joe Biden.”
But Stavast either misheard it or misquoted the chant.
“You can hear chants from the crowd, ‘Let’s go, Brandon!'” she said during her report.
For all we know, different people could have been chanting about Brandon. But not everyone was. For supporters of former President Donald Trump, shouting, commenting, or wearing clothes with the message, “Let’s go, Brandon” is a substitution of “F*** Joe Biden.”
If we were in high school, that would have been funny for the better part of about three days. But some of Trump’s supporters still seem unable to tell when a joke’s humor has died.
That says a lot about them.
Church under fire for Brandon Chant
So now we move on to the new chapter in this saga.
WTTG-TV reported people at a San Antonio church were caught on video chanting, “Let’s go, Brandon.” Church officials said the incident did not occur during church services. In fact, the event apparently was on church property but wasn’t otherwise connected with the church at all.
In a statement released to WOAI-TV, the church said its facilities were used by an outside organization, adding the church does not endorse their views.
I’m certainly glad to hear that. My first reaction, when I heard this happened at a church, was to wonder where the Christians were. Surely Christians would know better than to behave that way.
In fact, Oklahoma Pastor Jeremy Coleman, who was apparently tagged in TikTok clips of the video, told WOAI-TV he felt the video was both “gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.”
Coleman posted a response of his own on TikTok:
“Churches are meant to be places of unconditional love for your neighbor,” Coleman said on his social media platform. “I don’t think that that kind of behavior, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, has any place inside the church.”
I’d have to agree with Coleman on that one.
God isn’t stupid.
I wouldn’t believe for a moment that God is dumb enough to be fooled by such a phrase. I believe He knew exactly what those people shouting that message meant.
What’s worse, those same Christians would themselves be in an uproar if another group of Christians chanted a similar insult against the last president. We all know that’s true.
If it was a church event, such a chant had no place in a church. If it was a political rally, such an event had no place inside a church. We have separation of church and state for a reason.
It seems as though people who used the church property weren’t there to worship God. Whatever the purpose of their event was, it sure sounds like they’ve made a political party, or at least a political philosophy, if not a single political figure their new god. (Note the intentional lowercase G.)
That says a lot about them.
For some Christians, profanity no big deal
There are plenty of progressive Christians who don’t mind using profanity. Some of them clearly objected to the chant as you might expect.
But some of them might well have used similar words or phrases against President Joe Biden’s predecessor without thinking twice. That’s what I call a double standard.
While they might condemn profanity in a church setting, they certainly don’t mind dropping F-bombs and other obscenities when they think it serves their purpose.
I’ve written before about some Christian podcasts where profanity is very much part of the presentation. A while back, I wrote about a progressive Christian podcast to which one of its listeners sent an altered version of the podcast’s theme:
In their version of the lyrics, there were two “F-bombs” and the S-word, all in the first 21 seconds of the broadcast. The hosts of the podcast, I’m sorry to say, seemed delighted with this alternate version of their opening. They laughed about it and called it “awesome.”
It didn’t strike me that way, I said.
One podcast features the sound effect of a bell used whenever someone uses profanity. I don’t recall whether they put money in a “swear jar.” But they clearly seem proud of every ring.
Recently, a progressive pastor who I respect released a new set of T-shirts to raise money for his ministry. One of the t-shirt designs — which he says is now one of his best-selling — features a design with the word Empathetic in all capital letters over a heart in which the letters AF appear. AF is an abbreviation that stands for “as f***.”
The profanity dilemma: You can’t have it both ways
Some Christians who follow this pastor because of his non-traditional progressive views raised some eyebrows — and objections — to that design. That started a debate of its own.
I sided with those who dislike the design. I don’t think it’s necessary for Christians to wear clothing with a message delivered in that manner. Honestly, I don’t consider myself a prude, but maybe I’m prudish enough to think Christians can do better than this.
Are they capable of wearing clothing with that messaging and truly being empathetic? Being empathetic means being able to understand and share the feelings of others. If their attitude is to immediately dismiss someone who expresses disapproval of the message, how empathetic can the wearer be?
The pastor himself dismissed the objections. He said he uses the F-bomb all the time. That isn’t the point. Many of us — myself included — have used the F-bomb. But we use it in specific contexts around specific people who know us well. I don’t say it around strangers. I wouldn’t wear it (or euphemisms for it) on our clothing for the world to see.
It’s not that I’m trying to judge those who do choose to wear it. I just wonder why they feel the need to get attention in that way.
His most recent message about the shirt went like this: “If it offends you or you find it objectionable, tasteless, or bothersome—please don’t buy it.”
That argument, however, could be made about any church’s teachings to which he objects: “If it offends you or you find it objectionable, tasteless, or bothersome—please don’t visit that church.”
‘Jesus and the sinners’ argument doesn’t hold water here
A popular thought among progressive Christians reminds us that Jesus was anti-establishment. He didn’t “hang out” with church and political leaders. He “hung out” with the sinners. As such, he lifted the people who needed Him most by spending his time and focusing his attention on them. The meek, the poor, the powerless all benefitted from Jesus’s time and love.
In Luke 5:27-32, the Pharisees, who were always looking for ways to discredit Him, asked the disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus gave a clever answer, as we’re led to believe He was quick to do. Here’s the Living Bible’s translation of His response:
“It is the sick who need a doctor, not those in good health. My purpose is to invite sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think themselves already good enough.”
Wise words, indeed.
But the people who use the tired old claim about Jesus “hanging out” with the sinners miss an important point.
While Jesus may have spent time with the sinners, He didn’t join them in their sin.
When Christians spend time among non-Christians, they’re not required to adjust their speech to employ the profanity we are more likely to associate with non-Christians.
You don’t have to abuse alcohol or drugs to be “empathetic” to addicts. You don’t have to give up a job and your home to be “empathetic” to the homeless. Likewise, you certainly don’t have to employ profanity — or even euphemisms for it — to relate to others who might use profanity more than you do.
To put it another way, you can easily be in the world without being of the world.
Yes, if the shirt offends you, you shouldn’t buy it. I wouldn’t buy it or wear it.
I’d rather be empathetic without proclaiming myself that way on a shirt. One might more effectively communicate the depths of his or her empathy by how he treats people.
Language can be a powerful thing. I wish more Christians could set aside their politics and their desire to win an argument long enough to use language more effectively.
While they’re at it, I wish they’d be a bit more willing to respect other people’s opinions.
Don’t complain about Christians chanting euphemisms for profanity if you’re going to walk around with one on your chest.
I think both Conservative and Progressive Christians need a bit more help fighting the profanity dilemma.