Lost in the Controversy: Donald Trump, Covington High, Nathan Phillips, and the Black Hebrew Israelites

On January 18th, thousands of Americans gathered at the National Mall in Washington, DC for the 46th annual March For Life, the stated mission of which is to “end abortion by uniting, educating, and mobilizing pro-life people in the public square.” The ecumenical event drew speakers and attendees from across the political and religious spectrum, especially the Roman Catholic Church which has staunchly opposed the practice of abortion for years. In addition to the March for Life crowd, a group of American Indians were also in the area for the Indigenous Peoples March. Also, because crowds draw a crowd, members of the Black Hebrew Israelite cult were there, too. Members of each of these three groups confronted one another and controversy ensued.

News reports vary but what seems apparent is that a group of students, some of whom where wearing Donald-Trump-themed clothing, from Convington Catholic High School in Park Hills, Kentucky were involved in an altercation with a group of Black Hebrew Isrealites, who are notoriously foul-mouthed. A Native American activist named Nathan Phillips stepped in between the two groups while playing a drum and singing a protest song. Exactly what happened is disputed and initial reports appear to be contradicted by evidence and additional eye-witness accounts. A headline from NPR reads, “Video Of Kentucky Students Mocking Native American Man Draws Outcry.” A Rolling Stone headline reads, “Nathan Phillips Says He Was Playing Peacemaker When MAGA Students Taunted Him.” A National Review headline reads, “Nathan Phillips Lied. The Media Bought It.” A video of the incident has been made available (language warning):

Whatever happened, the media and the Twitterverse have taken the opportunity to make incendiary statements about nationalism, white-privileged, xenophobia, and disrespect for elders. The real tragedy is lost in the controversy. The parties involved are lost and in danger of the fires of Hell. The students of Covington Catholic High School in Park Hills Kentucky need to get saved. Roman Catholicism is a false religion. They were wearing Donald Trump gear. Trump is lost and would bust Hell wide open if he died. The Black Hebrew Israelites need to get saved, they are members of a preposterous and hostile cult. Nathan Phillips needs to get saved, he practices paganism.

Roman Catholics were at the National Mall to protest abortion (or because there school made them go). Nathan Phillips was there with a group to voice concerns about “violence against Native women, the ravages of climate change and fossil fuel extraction, and the federal government shutdown.” Black Hebrew Israelites were there to yell at people, that’s what they do. Saturday’s events are a good reminder that even people who gather for noble causes (such as ending abortion) can be under the wrath of God. Our society can generate stories about disrespect and asinine kids, getting the truth wrong or getting it right.

…but God knows that many of the people there protesting one form of sin have failed to repent of their own wicked deeds, pleading salvation by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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Seth Dunn

Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary Member of the Evangelical Theological Society Certified Public Accountant