"Lord of the Rings" actor Sean Astin has weighed in on President Donald Trump's controversial weekend comments about the NFL and issued a call for unity amid continued division.
"When my mom died, I was given my Grandfathers [sic] flag," Astin, an outspoken Christian, wrote in a recent Facebook post. "It's on our mantle at home...I used to sing the National Anthem at all three of my girls bedtimes, because it's the only song I seemed to be able to remember the words to. I have studied American history and revere where we came from and who we are."
However, Astin said he "cares" about the pain and anger of Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players who have protested racial injustice in the U.S. by taking a knee.
"But, slavery and annihilating the native peoples of this land isn't just a tsk tsk wish that it wouldn't have happened. It is a crippling flaw in our national soul," he said. "When you sweep away the honest aching of a fellow citizen under the cover of patriotism, you are part of a very big problem."
Hundreds of N.F.L. players across the country demonstrated during the National Anthem on Sunday in the form of kneeling, linking arms and holding fists in the air after President Trump told a rally in Alabama, "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: 'Get that son of a b- off the field right now, out. He's fired. He's fired!'"
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Trump's remarks "divisive," and more NFL teams also issued statements on Sunday condemning Trump's "disappointing" comments. However, President Trump has stood his ground, demanding that the NFL "must respect" the United States flag and anthem.
Astin said that if he were President Trump, he might say, "America o' America, please stand with me. Our flag is not only who we are, but who we want to be. Stand with me brothers and sisters, place your hand on your heart and know that as your president, my heart beats with yours...we are not equal yet but we will be...stand with pride in your home, in your land, that you own as much as me...God Bless you Colin and all who pray...God Bless America...I stand for you."
Then, the "Goonies" actor said, he would kneel as a gesture of solidarity during the National Anthem, "and then when the refrain turned to AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE I would rise...hopefully holding hands with the Nation who hopefully would all now be on their feet."
Astin is not the only Christian entertainer to weigh in on the controversy.
On Facebook, Christian NFL star Benjamin Watson urged peaceful dialogue and answered questions from fans regarding the issue.
"This was a hard couple days," he said. "The words of the president felt like an attack on all of us. It opened the door for a few great conversations though between a few white players and black players. If anything our hope is to learn from each other and empathize."
Later, he added, "Thank you for the comments and questions. Dialogue can be constructive when entered with humility and respect. In the best and worst of times He is still on the throne!"
Popular speaker and writer Austin Channing tweeted: "Standing (or kneeling) for racial justice is not a distraction from "real politics". Its connected to policing, healthcare, immigration, etc."
Brian Johnson, artist and co-founder of Bethel Music, tweeted: