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Whitlock: Deion Sanders replaced Barack Obama as the new ‘American Idol’
Kevork Djansezian / Stringer, Earl Gibson III / Contributor, ABC / Contributor, Derek White / Contributor | Getty Images

Whitlock: Deion Sanders replaced Barack Obama as the new ‘American Idol’

My problem isn’t really with Deion Sanders. It’s with the people who worship, exalt, and defend him. Idolaters are far more dangerous than the idols they glorify.

The people enraged by my light criticism of “Coach Prime” realize that I’m really talking about them, not Sanders. I’m pointing out their insecurity, the fraudulence of their confidence, virtue, and faith.

Sanders makes his idolaters feel good about themselves. Coach Prime’s black idolaters believe his success says something about black people. His white and liberal idolaters believe their unconditional support of him makes them more virtuous.

The world has never been able to rid itself of idols. Man is constantly looking to avoid the narrow path, for a less-demanding savior, a replacement for Jesus. However, society’s level of idolatry ebbs and flows.

America’s idolatry is at an all-time high. That’s the true legacy and impact of Barack Obama’s presidency. He ushered in the age of unrestrained idolatry. Deion Sanders is the new Barack Obama, an idol above all criticism, a celebrity who fills black people with pride and grants white supporters morality.

The things human beings were designed to receive from a relationship with and understanding of God, we keep looking for in man. Fifteen years ago, when Obama won the White House, many Americans falsely believed President Obama would help deliver the nation from the sin of racial division, unfairness, and bitterness.

It never materialized. In fact, eight years of Obama increased our racial polarization. Should we blame Obama for that? I don’t think so. I blame the idolatrous relationship black Americans, white liberals, and corporate media established with the president of the United States.

Man is not meant to be worshiped. God is. Worship and exaltation bring out the worst in man. Man is sharpened by resistance. Obama received far less resistance than any president in American history, making him one of our weakest leaders. He was allowed to dismiss virtually all criticism as racism. The paid sycophants on his staff and surrogates in the media shielded him from his critics.

He existed in a protective bubble. His presidency, along with the growing influence of social media, normalized placing idols in an echo chamber of positive reinforcement.

How did the all-out protection of Barack Obama benefit his most passionate idolaters? What were the rewards for black people’s idolatry of President Obama?

Well, according to most objective observers, there were no rewards.

Tavis Smiley, an accomplished black political journalist, and Cornel West, the Ivy League intellectual, were ostracized for daring to criticize Obama. Smiley was basically run off the Tom Joyner radio show. Obama’s idolaters undermined Smiley’s career, pushing him to the fringes of media.

Absent any resistance, Obama was free to build his legacy as the ultimate freedom fighter for lesbians, gays, transgenders, and queers. Newsweek hailed Obama as the “first gay president.”

Idolatry is the Devil’s most effective tool. It blinds believers to truth and allows man to give in to his worst instincts.

That’s what I’m afraid we’re going to witness from Deion Sanders at Colorado. He’s been placed in the corrosive, protective bubble of idolatry. He’s worshiped, exalted, and defended the way we’re supposed to worship, exalt, and defend Jesus.

No man can handle that. Deion will be destroyed. And no one will benefit.

It’s strange and sad how little we learned from the Obama presidency. We’ve yet to reckon with the idolatry spawned by his eight years in office. Before the age of Obama, as a columnist working in Kansas City and writing for ESPN and Fox Sports, I was celebrated for my willingness to criticize idols and sacred cows. Now it’s taboo. It’s not tolerated within corporate media.

Skip Bayless, who built a career second-guessing LeBron James, has reinvented himself as a jock-sniffer, someone completely afraid to challenge the pervasive racial idolatry at the heart of most sports media narratives.

The age of Obama birthed Colin Kaepernick and now Deion Sanders, idols above scrutiny. False gods.

Our confidence and security should come from knowing we’re image-bearers of God, not that we share the same skin tone as a celebrity football coach, football player, or president. Black pride is a curse because all pride is a curse. Pride hides truth.

The idolaters are fueling the arrogance that will undermine Deion’s ability to sustain success at Colorado. The black people worshiping at the throne of Coach Prime foolishly believe a winning season at Colorado will benefit them and say something about them.

The truth is our unrepentant idolatry says everything you need to know about us and America. We’d rather suffer the negative consequences of worshiping a false god than endure the worldly persecution of embracing the real One.

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