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'I can't kneel before anything besides God': Christian baseball player refuses to kneel in Black Lives Matter protest

by Marcus Jones

As the delayed US baseball season gets underway, spotlight has been put on a Christian pitcher who has refused to kneel with his team mates during a Black Lives Matter protest before a game.

Sam Coonrod's San Francisco Giants took on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the season opener on Thursday.

Before the game, players from both sides held a black ribbon in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, after which they decided to kneel, in what has become a symbolic gesture.

Camera's then fixed on Coonrod who was the only person on the pitch who remained on his feel.

Speaking to NBC Sports after the game, he said: 'I'm a Christian and I just can't get on board with a couple of things that I have read about Black Lives Matter - how they lean toward Marxism and they've said some negative things about the nuclear family. I just can't get on board with that.

"I meant no ill will by it. I don't think I'm better than anyone. I'm a Christian, so I just believe that I can't kneel before anything besides God."

His decision has been praised by evangelist Franklin Graham.

Writing on Twitter, the famous preacher said: "I appreciate that Sam Coonrod's commitment is to the Lord Jesus Christ above all else. He has enough guts to state the truth about the Black Lives Matters organisation & to stand for his convictions - even if it means standing alone. God bless him!"

Coonrod's view isn't one shared by all Christian sportsmen though.

Fellow baseball star Adam Wainwright took a different stance this week.

The St Louis Cardinals man who boasts a large social media following and frequently speaks about his faith took the knee when his team played their first match on Friday.

Speaking to media before the game, he said he made the decision to kneel after hearing the pain his black team mates had been through in recent months: "They looked at us and they said, 'hey, it would really mean a lot to us if y'all would join us in this movement.' And you don't have to tell me anything else besides that. When my teammate looks at me and says he's in need, he needs me to stand up for him, that's great."

Defending his actions, as a believer, he said: "I'll tell you this - as a Christian man, my job first and foremost is to love my neighbour, and to love my teammates and to love my friends and my family the best way I know how."

The act of kneeling has been common at sporting events. The symbolic gesture has grown in popularity following the death of George Floyd - a black man who died at the hands of a white police officer.

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