Bills safety Damar Hamlin caught flak from NFL legend Adrian Peterson, for rocking a SAINT Mxxxxxx Michael Takashi Murakami Varsity Jacket JESUS on the sidelines of Super Bowl LVII. The jacket featured the image of an altered face of Jesus on the front, with the word “Eternal,” and an image of a reimagined crucifix emblazoned on the back. Apparently the jacket offended Peterson’s Christian sensibilities.
“You should be thanking God son!” wrote Peterson in a since-altered caption. “This is Blasphemy!! We all fall short but c’mon man! I find this disrespectful. #grateful #goddid.”
It’s fine that Peterson found the jacket to be disrespectful, that’s his personal belief. It is not incumbent upon Hamlin to dress in any way that satisfies Peterson.
The jacket is a piece of art
The design on the jacket by the Japanese artist Murakami is clearly a piece of art. Whether or not someone likes the art, again is up to personal preference. But religion in art goes all the way back to B.C. on the world timeline. Artists have been exploring the thematics of religion in their work forever and that’s never going to stop.
Murakami is a contemporary artist, so his work will reflect the times during which they’re created. This is what art has been since the beginning.
Peterson later returned to Instagram after speaking with Hamlin and offered clarification.
“So I spoke firstname.lastname@example.org Damar, and we were able to discuss our thoughts as men. I want to be clear, I’m the last person to judge anyone, and that was never my intention. However, I do feel as if the jacket was disrespectful and it was something that I needed to share. I do realize everyone makes mistakes and falls short at times, so again, my intention was never to judge, just to share my opinion. Damar, I have respect and love for you and I wish you nothing but the best, but I just can’t rock with that jacket. I feel like there are a lot people, young and old, looking up to you and with power and influence comes great responsibility. I apologize for offending you, I just felt offended in that moment as a man who loves and respects our Lord and Savior, Yeshua. After speaking with Damar, I have an understanding that it didn’t come from a place of ill intent!#grateful #god #forgiveness“
It is interesting that Peterson found an article of clothing to be such an affront to his sensibilities that he needed to blast Hamlin publicly, and invite disingenuous bad faith actors to join the fray under the guise of religion.
Many people find Peterson’s treatment of his children to be offensive and much more harmful than a jacket.
In September of 2014 Peterson was indicted by a Texas grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child, after he had used a wooden implement to “discipline” his then 4-year-old son. The child was beaten across his back, buttocks, genitals, ankles, and legs with a tree branch.
Peterson pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of recklessly assaulting his son.
No doubt Peterson lives by the words of Proverbs 13:24 in “the good book.”
“He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
However another book, supported by empirical evidence and research, states that an adult striking a child for any reason is wrong and not healthy.
According to academic Dr. Stacey Patton, all forms of hitting causes structural damage to a child’s developing brain, with the hitting resulting in consequences.
“Fifty years worth of scientific studies has shown that all forms of hitting, even when there are no bruises or other injuries left behind, causes structural damage to a child’s developing brain, can compromise their immune system, places them at risk for delinquency and incarceration, poor intellectual, psychological, and chronic health problems later in life.
“Studies of brain scans by doctors at Harvard Medical School reveal the devastating effect corporal punishment has had on young adults. The brain scans of corporally punished young adults (not subjects who were bruised or severely injured) show nearly 20 percent reduction in the volume of gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex of their brains, compared with those who were not hit.
“When a child is threatened with a whupping or is hit, their body is flooded with certain stress hormones, which can damage the hippocampus, which may in turn affect their ability to cope with stress later in life.”
Freedom of religion and expression are rights afforded to us by the U.S. Constitution. The thing that followers of any religion need to be mindful of is, however you choose to live your life based on your religion does not mean you get to dictate to others based on that religion.
Peterson’s entitled to find offense in Hamlin’s jacket, but that’s where it ends.