A Wisconsin-based sports ministry is applauding guidelines issued this week by the International Olympic Committee, but wishes the governing authority would also address the religious discrimination practices of host nations.
The guidelines issued by the IOC ban protesters from political, religious and racial propaganda in time for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan – yet continue to give little regard to host countries that have been persecuting Christians for years.
4 Winds USA president and co-founder Steve McConkey – whose worldwide ministry stands up for Christian athletes – is pleased that Olympians will be prohibited from dishonoring their flag and country as numerous players in the National Football League have done over the years. However, he has a problem with the IOC discounting offences of nations whose governments flagrantly persecute Christians for merely practicing their faith and not worshipping the government or preferred religious icons.
"The Olympic Committee made the right move to stop podium protesters," McConkey asserts. "However, they have an uneven record when it comes to Christians, [as] they put the 2008 Olympics in China, where Christians are persecuted on a daily basis."
Not another NFL debacle
For the past few years, NFL fans have been turned off by players declaring themselves "social justice warriors" on the field and kneeling during the national anthem to protest law enforcement over incidents regarding questionable treatment of blacks in a number of incidents. But the IOC is not taking any changes by permitting any such controversial displays in Tokyo. Athletes are now only allowed to express their opinions at interviews, press conference, team meetings, and via social media.
"No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas," Olympic Charter Rule 50 reads. McConkey's organization points out that Olympians are forbidden from protesting, demonstrating, displaying banners, kneeling during national anthems, and wearing gear promoting causes.
Religious freedom ignored … LGBT rights highlighted
While applauding the new guidelines, McConkey contends that the international athletic community discounts Christian persecution.
"In 2019, World Athletics held the World Track and Field Championships in Qatar – a persecutor of Christians," McConkey points out, noting that "World Athletics and the IOC work hand-in-hand."
He explains how the LGBT lifestyle and other unbiblical practices are touted by global organizations.
"The United Nations and IOC work for the same causes," McConkey continues. "The UN promotes abortion and homosexuality. The Olympic Committee lectures people on morals, but promotes the UN's immoral goals."
Over the past several years, progressive agendas have been pushed, he says.
"In 2015, the Olympic Movement was officially recognized as an 'important enabler' of sustainable development and was included in the UN's Agenda 2030 that promotes abortion and homosexuality," McConkey notes. "The UN General Assembly adopted Principle 6 in 2017. This was an effort to make sure future Olympic sporting sites do not discriminate against homosexuality."
McConkey stresses that Christians should not be denied the right to express their biblical beliefs on moral issues.
"4 WINDS USA does not endorse violence against anyone," McConkey assures. "We believe Christians should have the right to say homosexuality is a sin without repercussions from the IOC. Athletes should not be punished directly or indirectly for having biblical standards. We have seen athletes indirectly silenced by the IOC and their media friends."
The ministry founder has also challenged the transgender movement in sports as far back as 2003 when he was the only person to publicly stand against IOC for allowing trans-athletes in the Olympics. And although McConkey has "fought this LGBT agenda every step of the way," the ministry laments that the transgender movement has since spread to America's high schools, college and professional sports, and the military.
Obama called out
Following the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, then-President Barack Obama hosted the American team at the White House – during which he honored former U.S. Olympic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos. He commended the two for their part in protesting the national anthem by raising gloved fists during their medal ceremony at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico.
Obama's actions were condemned by 4 Winds. "During the presentation, the president raised his fist in honor of them, [and] McConkey was the only person who publicly stood against this," the ministry claims.
In similar fashion, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and U.S. soccer team star Megan Rapinoe have both knelt during national anthems in recent years.