‘Stand Up for What You Believe In, Even If It Means Sacrificing Everything’: Enes Kanter Freedom

In this special episode, we get to hear from two special guests: Enes Kanter Freedom, NBA basketball player turned human rights advocate; and Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern. We got a chance to sit down with them this week in the nation’s capital, at the International Religious Freedom Summit 2022.

When asked why he kept standing up for human rights, despite the consequences of losing his career, Freedom said: “When I was in Turkey, you know, unfortunately, some of the things that I talk about, my family was really affected. My dad was in jail. … I don’t want to go in detail, but they had a very rough time in Turkey. And I remember my mom told me: stand up for what you believe in, even if it means sacrificing everything. So I was like, you know, I understand—money, amazing, cool; endorsement deals, shoe sales, jersey sales, it’s amazing. But is it really more important than people’s lives? I don’t think so. So I’m like, this is bigger than myself. I know at the end, I might be able to play another five, six years. But I can’t be going to sleep in peace when I know [on the] other side of the ocean, people are losing their loved ones and losing their lives. So this is way bigger than that. So I don’t have any regrets.”

He added: “This is bigger than basketball. This is bigger than NBA, and this is bigger than myself. So I believe what I’m standing up for is worth it.”

As for why the Chinese regime and other authoritarian regimes clamp down on religious freedom, King said: “At its heart, … there’re a couple models I use to describe the Marxists. And on the one hand, they’re very clearly a mafia. What does a mafia do? It rules by power. It’s all about money, greed, power, violence, and they control the community or the state around them by those means—by bribes, by power, by threats, intimidation, killing—and all for their little club. For their tiny little club, they are a parasite on society. But there’s the strange thing with a Marxist regime is that as much as they say there is no God, they set themselves up as a god. Now, I think on the one hand, it’s very clear that they will co-opt theology, they will co-opt the religious impulse in human beings, and so they set themselves up as a god. But at the same time, there’s something more than that, where I think they really believe it. It’s like, ‘we are the thing to be worshipped,’ and they can’t tolerate another thing being worshipped. There’s something spiritual going on. And I always say if you want to see the purest form of this, you go to North Korea, where they purposefully copy Christianity with Juche theology. It was all purposeful, it was all thought out. But again, it’s clearly a religious system. And yet [they say] there is no God, and there’s no religion or religion is an evil thing, but they create religion.”

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