This post looks at a controversial, and racially charged tweet from Donald Trump that the EFCA Texas and Oklahoma District Superintendent liked on Twitter. The Wondering Eagle would like to know, does Bob Rowley comprehend racism? Can he understand what he liked? This shows why the upcoming EFCA theology conference, The Gospel, Compassion and Justice is needed and will help the denomination.
“The roots of racism lie deep in man’s nature, wounded and bruised by original sin.”
“When Trump uses language referring to black athletes or other black figures that kind of speak out in terms of them being ungrateful and undeserving of their place in sports, he’s re-invoking that dark era in American sports in which that language was explicit and black players couldn’t play,”
Ben Carrington, a Sociology Professor, from the University of Southern California .
Romans 10:12 NLT
Donald Trump’s controversial tweet and EFCA Texas – Oklahoma District Superintendent Bob Rowley liking it.
This is the second part of two posts. Earlier this week I did a review of the upcoming EFCA theology conference being held in Garden Ridge, Texas. The conference deals with racism, racial reconciliation and immigration issues. You can read about the conference in, ” EFCA’s Upcoming Theological Conference: The Gospel, Compassion and Justice. A Review of the Speakers and Some Personal Thoughts.” In addition Martin Luther King day is coming up on Monday so this post is also appropriate for that national holiday. Before I get into this post and discuss EFCA Texas and Oklahoma District Superintendent let’s look at some back ground to give you context and understanding.
The Donald Trump and LaVar Ball Controversy
In November of 2017 UCLA was in China and scheduled to play Georgia Tech in basketball. The game was held in Shanghai. Three UCLA basketball players, LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill, were then arrested for shoplifting. They were detained for ten days, and faced years in prison. LaVar Ball, a celebrity whose son was arrested in China claimed the following about the situation. “It ain’t that big a deal.” Donald Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to let them go and they were released. All three basketball players were suspended from UCLA’s program indefinitely. Donald Trump took credit for their release, and LaVar Ball did not express gratitude for his son getting out of a difficult situation. In response Trump tweeted that he would have left them in jail if he knew they would not thank him. UCLA quickly organized a press conference where all three basketball players thanked Donald Trump, and those apologies were accepted. However, LeVar Ball downplayed Donald Trump’s role in the release of the basketball players. Trump roared back that they should have been left in jail. He then tweeted again that he should have gotten them out of jail the next time he went to China. LaVar responded with a crack about how he’s going to have a great Thanksgiving. Finally on November 22 Donald Trump tweeted about how it wasn’t the White House, the State Department that got the basketball players out, it was Donald Trump. He went on to call LaVar an ungrateful fool. There were two tweets on November 22, this post is focused on the first tweet which you can see above.
The Issue of Racial Overtones in Trump’s Tweets
There is one issue that is deeply disturbing about these kind of tweets, like the one you see above and others on a regular basis. Many of the tweets have a racial overtone which is deeply disturbing. In his tweets Donald Trump has taken aim at African-American athletes and targeted them. He does this frequently with sports, and in the process he subtly plays the race card. In the process of refers to the days when sports were segregated and black athletes could not play because of the color of their skin. This has come up from some sociologists and those familiar with sports history. After all is it a coincidence that Trump targets sports like basketball and football in his tweets which have high rates of African-Americans, while then sometimes also tweeting praise about NASCAR? What is the percentage of NASCAR that is black? Trump’s tweets about LaVar Ball, and I say this while stating that he is arrogant, is over the top to turn the issue and turn it into a racial issue. If you want to read more about this, you can do so in the following news articles.
- ABC News “Some experts say Trump’s tweets on LaVar Ball could be racially coded.“
- London Independent “Donald Trump posts bizarre reply to tweet accusing him of stoking racism.”
- USA Today “California representative calls President Trump’s tweets at LaVar Ball racially charged.”
- CNN “CNN’s Ryan Lizza: ‘There Is Obvious Racist Overtones’ with Trump’s Lavar Ball Tweets.”
Who is Bob Rowley?
The Texas and Oklahoma District is led by Dr. Bob Rowley. Dr. Rowley converted to Christianity in January of 1974 and eventually enrolled in Dallas Theological Seminary. He graduated with a Masters in Theology in 1982. Bob actually met his wife JoAnn before he started attending Dallas Theological Seminary. Upon graduation he moved to Laredo, Texas where he helped plant Grace Bible Church Evangelical Free when he arrived in August of 1983. Bob then led Grace Bible Church as the Senior Pastor for nearly twenty years until 2004. On June 14, 2004 Bob was elected as the District Superintendent of the Texas and Oklahoma District. He finally resigned as Grace Bible Church’s Senior Pastor at the end of 2004.
Bob along with his wife have served as Urban Intercultural missionaries with the EFCA. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe Bob served on the district board and five years as the Director of Church Planting. Bob is well known in the EFCA denomination for doing church planting, and coaching. He has been involved in about thirty church plants over the years. In the past he has served on the board of directors of the EFCA. Plus he has also served on the EFCA National Church Planting Team. His dissertation for his Doctor of Ministry in May of 2005 dealt with church planting and how to successfully coach church planters. Plus he has also received the EFCA Church Planting District of the Year award. He is also an adjunct professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.
Bob Rowley wants have half of his churches in the Texas and Oklahoma District to daughter a multi-ethnic church in the next ten years. Plus you can also hear him preach at Trinity Fellowship Church. Bob and his wife live today in San Antonio, Texas.
Bob Rowley Liking that Tweet Reveals Why the Upcoming EFCA Theology Conference is So Vital
Last November on Twitter that controversial Donald Trump tweet dealing with LaVar Ball was liked by the EFCA Texas and Oklahoma District Superintendent, Bob Rowley. I have a screen shot up above that one can see. I have to say that this is profoundly disturbing that a leader of a Christian organization such as the EFCA, would like something controversial. It is deeply inappropriate for that to take place. Social media is a game changer in many ways and people need to be conscious of how they communicate themselves on social media. But I also want to ask the following question, when an EFCA District Superintendent likes such a tweet with racial overtones, does he understand the racial implications that are going on? Does Bob also stop and consider his role as a leader in the EFCA and what he is sanctioning by liking that tweet? Philip Yancey writes regularly and frequently as to why the church should be apolitical. And I deeply agree with Yancey and yes, this applies to both the left and the right. But I am deeply troubled that this would be done by an EFCA leader.
Here is another point that I would also like to ask. Is it appropriate for a person in a position of leadership of the EFCA to mix both politics and EFCA polity issues and more in his Twitter account? Many other professional organizations could not do that. Many businesses most certainly can not, federal and state employees (I believe) can not do that in their official positions. Many doctors and medical professionals most certainly can not. So why does an EFCA District Superintendent do this? As I wrote about in the first post about the EFCA Theology conference its timing is appropriate. From all the issues going on in both racial and immigration its so appropriate. This past year we have had Neo-Nazis march and riot in Charlottesvile, Virginia. We have seen social media be used as tools for racism. We have had intense debates about immigration which is going on right now. And when I checked the news this afternoon what did I read? I read that the President of the United States is calling Africa, Haiti, El Salvador and more “shithole countries.” The Neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville weren’t even called anything derogatory. So this EFCA Theology conference is needed. But here is another point that I want to make. What does it say to the EFCA and those who will participate in this conference, when the leader of the district where this conference is being held is liking racially charged tweets on Twitter? Its shows that this conference is essential, and that its time has come.
Why I am Writing this Post and my Decision Making Process
I really struggled about writing this post. I saw that tweet in November and noticed how Bob Rowley liked it. I took a screenshot but I sat on it for a while. I was troubled but I also wanted to think about this issue for a period of time. I didn’t want to instantly write a response which would be seen as a knee jerk reaction. Instead I wanted to sit on this and see how things went. In time I began to notice other news articles that looked at the racial overtones of Donald Trump’s tweets and I considered that as well. When I learned that the next EFCA Theology conference dealing with racial reconciliation, racism and immigration is going to be held in Texas that also went into my thinking. After sitting on this post for about two months I contacted a couple of people I know and decided that I wanted to get a second opinion. I wanted to run all this by another person who was neutral and outside these issues to get a fresh perspective. So I sat down with someone who I know who is African-American and I explained the situation and showed them the tweet. I asked them point blank what do you think about an evangelical Christian church leader liking this tweet? It bothered him. The second person I asked is a pastor that I know and he was troubled. In talking it over with him I realized that this topic had to be raised. And I decided that it would be best to do so after writing about the conference beforehand.
Now I want to be crystal clear. I am not trying to get Bob Rowley in trouble with the EFCA organization. I want to use this as a teaching lesson, for him to learn and think about things. I understand and get that people make mistakes. The point of this post is to raise this issue so that people can learn, and that the EFCA can grow from this article. We live in a day that is sensitive and social media is huge. Its why when I laid out this blog’s goals in writing about the EFCA I decided that pastors and leaders in the EFCA should be educated and trained on social media issues and ethics. Social media is powerful, and first and final perceptions come quickly from it. Bob Rowley I wish you well, I want you to learn from this and grow. This is just my observation as an outsider doing analysis of the organization. Know that you are loved, and take care!