Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Dallas, criticized the NFL players who kneel during the national anthem, saying they should be grateful that they live in a country where they do not have to worry about getting shot in the head for their activism.
"I think what these players are doing is absolutely wrong," the pastor said during his appearance on Fox & Friends on Monday. "These players ought to be thanking God that they live in a country where they're not only free to earn millions of dollars every year, but they're also free from the worry of being shot in the head for taking a knee like they would be with the were in North Korea," he added.
NFL players have increasingly been "taking the knee" during the national anthem in protest of President Donald Trump's remarks last week condemning the practice.
"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say 'Get that son of a b**** off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired!'" the president said during a campaign event for Sen. Luther Strange.
The trend began when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, 29, began kneeling during the performance of the national anthem last season to protest about police treatment of minorities.
Following Trump's remarks, more than 20 players and staff members from the Baltimore Ravens and the Jacksonville Jaguars knelt or linked arms before the game at Wembley on Sunday. Similar demonstrations took place at other NFL games throughout the weekend, with three teams remaining in the locker rooms or tunnel for the duration of the anthem, according to BBC.
On Monday, Dallas Cowboys players, staff and owner Jerry Jones kneeled together on the football field in an apparent display of unity, but the group rose again just before the playing of the national anthem.
Loud boos were heard across the University of Phoenix Stadium when the team kneeled, and it continued even as the players rose and stepped back to the sideline while the American flag was being unfurled across the field.
Later that night, Trump unleashed a series of tweets criticizing the NFL, saying its ratings are "way down" except when people tune in before the game starts to see "whether or not our country will be disrespected."
Jeffress, a member of Trump's evangelical advisory board, insisted that the president's opposition to the protest has nothing to do with race. He contended that those who take a knee and those who support it are disrespectful to the country and the nation's leaders.
Despite the negative reactions to his remarks, the Dallas pastor maintained that he has no plans to back down from them.