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In the beginning, there was an obscene chant during a live broadcast at the Talladega Superspeedway that NBC producers urgently needed to ignore.
Interviewing winner Brandon Brown, reporter Kelli Stavast pretended the NASCAR crowd was chanting “Let’s go, Brandon!” — not cursing President Joe Biden.
The rest is history, as the wink-wink slogan soaked into political jargon and mass media. What shocked the Rev. Seth Carter, who leads the First Baptist Church of Paintsville, Kentucky, was when church people began baptizing “Let’s go Brandon!” into common speech.
“To be clear, I am no supporter of our president’s actions or policies. In no way do I feel support for him welling up inside of me,” he wrote in a Baptist Press commentary. “However, I recognize that my feelings can never be the proper guide of the attitude I am to have toward him. As a Christian and a believer in the inspired, inerrant and infallible Word of God contained in the Bible, the truth of God’s Word is what ought to guide my attitude toward President Biden (or any other leader, for that matter).”
Christians could try chanting “Pray for Biden,” he said. They need to see Biden the way the apostles Peter and Paul viewed “the evil emperor of their day, Nero.”
Carter noted this passage from 1 Peter: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.”
Writing to the Colossians, Paul said: “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt.”
In response, the conservative Capstone Report website published an editorial claiming that the “Baptist Pravda, err, Press” had demanded “submission to (a) regime’s lies.”
“Yes, the original chant of ‘F— Joe Biden’ was profane. The Christian should avoid it,” acknowledged the editorial, posted without a specific byline. “However, when the NBC reporter lied about the chant … the purpose and meaning of it changed, too. This is undeniable. To say ‘Let’s go, Brandon’ is not to say anything other than ‘The mainstream press are propaganda agents of the Joe Biden regime.’ In fact, claiming otherwise is bearing false witness against the people using the chant.”
The editorial claims that Biden’s “unconstitutional mandates and attacks on Christian liberty” mean that he “meets any definition of ‘tyrant,’” and that the goal of “Leftist Big Evangelical” leaders is to turn Christians into “compliant slaves.”
Carter said he knows many conservatives have been shaken by years of attacks on their beliefs by politicians, commentators and Hollywood. Many embraced the brash style of President Donald Trump because they thought “turnabout is fair play,” and they wanted a blunt strongman on their side. It’s understandable that many consider elite newsrooms part of the biblical principalities and powers that oppose traditional believers today.
“People are saying, ‘Why isn’t it fair to attack Biden the way people attacked Trump?’” said Carter. “Yes, it was clear as day that the (NBC) reporter was trying to cover up what was being said, to protect Biden, and I understand that lots of things this president is doing make people mad. I feel the same way. … I’m just trying to get my own people to go back to scripture and take it seriously.
“Whether it’s Biden or Trump, that doesn’t change how we relate to scripture,” he said.
When Americans — left and right — start cursing each other, it becomes harder to communicate about divisions and disturbing trends plaguing national life, he said. Coating arguments in acid doesn’t encourage understanding or tolerance.
“I’m not saying Christians need to be silent instead of taking stands for what we believe is right,” said Carter in an interview. “If anything, it seems like many church people have been assuming that we’re called to be doormats and should assume things can never change.
“Are we supposed to stand up to lies? Of course. We have every right and responsibility to expose lies for what they are. … The question is, ‘What are we going to say and how we going to say it?’ It doesn’t help our cause when people see Christians acting like the people that we’re trying to oppose.”