#WhatsTheMessage EP 028 Racism: A White Christian Agenda

In this episode Carmela and Claudia catch up on the headlines discussing everything from developments with the census, the importance of voting, and how research is showing that White Christians are more racist than non-religious whites. Join them for an awesome conversation right here on YouTube or on the Message magazine Facebook page. And be sure to check out Dr. Tichianaa Armah’s article on Bevelyn Beatty, a Black woman who attempted to cover up a Black Lives Matter mural with black paint while declaring “Jesus matters!” and “vote Trump, vote Republican, vote Christian.” This is an informative and really interesting episode. Check it out, and click on the link below to read the full article.


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A Message to Christians Frustrated About the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

About three weeks ago, a Black woman posted herself defacing a #BlackLivesMatter mural yelling “Jesus Matters!” She got 27.4 thousand likes and 12,571 shares in just a few hours. As I scrolled through most of the 8,000 responses, I saw primarily White faces encouraging her to discount the problems that contribute to the state of Black people in America. Today, her post has 1,758,245 views, has been shared 40,306 times, has 59 thousand reactions, and 29,762 comments. Her message of “taking our country back! By any means necessary!” by lifting up Jesus and discouraging involvement with #BlackLivesMatter is coupled with videos of her blaming the organization for the turmoil in the country and a push to pray for the police, #backtheblue #JesusMatters. This conflation of support for police and our local and federal government with Christ highlights why many of all races are disillusioned with Christianity.

We are going to take our country back! By any means necessary!!! #RiseUp #JesusMatters

We are going to take our country back! By any means necessary!#JesusMatters #RiseUpWe Are: At The Well Ministries#USA #Trump2020 #NYC #NewYorkCity #ReFundThePolice #GodBlessBlue ( #BlackLivesMatter #BLM is a domestic terrorist organization. They don't care about black lives. They support the killing of more than 600K Black Babies every year! )- – – – – – – – -**UPDATE**Our Website www.AtWellMinistries.org is currently crashed. We are working on getting it back up ASAP. Many have been messaging us asking how they can help and how to donate. For those who have asked how to donate and help financially please choose one of the following ways.1. Donations can be made on our website (once back online )https://atwellministries.org/give/2. Quickpay with Zelle | Use info@atwellministries.org3. Cashapp – https://cash.me/$atthewell4. PayPal – use email address info@atwellministries.org #JesusMatters

Posted by Bevelyn Beatty on Saturday, July 18, 2020

A Peculiar People

As a Christian Black female physician, I have battled the stigma associated with being a Christian nearly all my life. People often express shock with statements and questions that are not meant to be offensive like, “But you are not judgmental!”, “But you make me feel accepted,” and “How could you be a Christian?”

As early as elementary school, I found myself having to explain and defend my faith. People often see Christians as closed-minded and hypocritical, and recordings shared on social media like the one above have reinforced many of these perceptions.

But is the indignation over protests and proclamations against #BlackLivesMatter in line with the Word? This was the Bible verse that came to my mind:

This is what the Lord says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!

Jeremiah 22:3 NLT

Words fit for our times. They spell out what we are called to do. Some of us attend church services once a week, others several times. Some read the Word daily, and others listen when they can. However, one thing is evident, as Christians we are called to care about those in our society being mistreated and discriminated against. Black Lives Matter is an organization dedicated to challenging any system or culture that denigrates the humanity of any person, but particularly Blacks in America. That kind of work is what it means to be like Jesus and not just believe in Him.

In And of The World

Truthfully, Christians are more often in and of the world than we are in and of the Word. A recent viral video of a black woman confronted by White church volunteers clearly demonstrates this dichotomy. Peacefully sitting on the lawn of a local Lutheran church, Alex Marshall Brown is accused of trespassing and strongly intimidated into vacating the premises. These Christ followers approach this woman and instead of being kind and of service to her, they harass and intimidate her just because she’s black.

This display of racial profiling and intimidation is what it looks like to be in and of the world and not in and of the Word. Unfortunately, too many Christians are more concerned with believing in Jesus and protecting Him and His property, than they are about protecting His people. These small acts of disregard for social justice partnered with explicit acts of racism and social terror have a detrimental impact on our witness. In fact, these kinds of interactions have produced and continue to aid in the skepticism of many with regards to the Christian church.

The Dangers of Weathering

The reality is, no matter how many times Christians seek to explain away racism, assert it as a leftist agenda, or intimidate people into not engaging in protests, Black Americans are constantly experiencing social, psychological, physical, systemic, and even spiritual oppression. For example, the damaging health effects on Black communities and individuals reaches to the level of our DNA. Studies suggest that telomere (protective DNA protein complexes at the ends of our chromosomes that prevent its deterioration) length, is a marker of cellular aging.

Image Credit: Nicola Katie, iStock

The shortening of these telomeres is associated with premature aging and chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and dementia. The telomeres are affected by stress including that of racial discrimination, a term dubbed “weathering.” The length of these telomeres in one study showed that they were initially longer in Black subjects but had a faster rate of shortening, adjusting for all other factors, aside from race. With race-based social-stress suspected as the cause, the daily racial discrimination faced by Black people is killing us even when there is no visible weapon apparent. Put simply, studies show that interactions like the one Alex Marshall Brown had can cause serious health problems to Black Americans.

Being Like Jesus

Christ came to heal. Rather than being vessels that inflict more pain and death, Christians should be obedient to the call of being Christ’s hands and feet, healing the sicknesses Sin has produced throughout the world. We must continuously self-reflect, pray without ceasing, read, ponder His word, then follow his lead. While there must be sweeping changes to institutions and laws, we Christians must allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us as individuals to do our part to heal this nation one person at a time and one act at a time.

After the death of my mother, the school staff where I attended boarding school in Pennsylvania worried about my mental well-being. I had returned to school after her funeral without any noticeable differences in my behavior and schoolwork. I also was not reaching out for help. I had my Bible, my faith, and schoolwork that distracted me from the devastating loss, and a firm belief that I would be reunited with my mother one day.

My mother had also been preparing me for her death all my young life. Much of my life was spent sitting in hospital waiting rooms during one of my mother’s frequent hospitalizations for complications with Lupus. Between hospital stays, however, my mother had given me beautiful memories. She shared her wisdom and taught me my Black heritage before, during, and after slavery. She instilled pride in my background and confidence in my abilities and taught me I was a child of God. Finally, someone asked my grandmother what could be done to support me through her loss. She said, “Send her to church.”

The Family I Needed

An older White couple volunteered to bring me to church that week and it would become a weekly routine. Afterwards we ate lunch at their home, with a few other members invited as well. After filling up on pasta, garlic bread, and salad we talked on a stroll through the woods.

These were comforting times for a girl who in a matter of days had lost the entire life she had known. No mother, no home, not even an assigned guardian for the remainder of my childhood. My remaining family was unable to visit me on ‘Parents’ Weekend’ or to take me on weekend pass like many of my peers. The folks at that church became my family before others at the school began to take on that role.

Knowing what I now know as a psychiatrist, their support not only helped me feel less isolated, but it also directly contributed to my academic success at the time. These and other positive social interactions likely had healing effects on my body and mind to combat the stress of my situation. This couple, like others along my path, were an example of what God directs us to be. With hardened hearts, they might have turned their car around the first day they saw me, making some excuse after seeing that I was black, if my name did not already tip them off.

In fact, not everyone at the church proved as welcoming. The impact of that largely positive experience could have been completely undone in an instant by words of hate. One woman at the church actually made disparaging comments and I unfortunately was present to hear them one day. This Christian couple did not allow my race or the discriminatory ideas of those around them to dictate how they were going to treat me. They were in a racist world, but not of it. Instead, they chose to be in the Word and allow themselves to display the character of Christ in love to me as He says in His Word.

A Call to Christians

A Christian’s belief in God should not ever result in racism or discrimination. However, history reveals that much of the Bible has been distorted to justify bigotry, hatred, and the unjust treatment of black and brown people throughout the world. Christianity has justified slavery, colonization, and segregation. And despite this history some White Christians remain frustrated with protests and proclamations against racism.

They believe the movement does not pertain to them, and they justify this by declaring they held no slaves and thus should not be held accountable for the past. But while not being an active participant in the past, many are currently both participating and complicit in the discrimination and intimidation of Blacks today, as we saw above. Racist words and actions are just as deadly as racist policies. Words can be living water or sharp swords piercing into the hearts and souls of men. And Christ is looking for a band of followers that are willing to speak life into a sin-filled world, hope into disenfranchised communities, and peace into nations in tension.

So, to my White brothers and sisters in Christ:

Those who encourage the defacing of #BlackLivesMatter murals.

Those who justify the killing of unarmed victims.

Those who call the police on a Black child playing, an adult walking, exercising, reading a book, sleeping in their dorm, or sitting on your church lawn.

Those who cannot see that “Black” is needed because it has never been included in this country’s “All”

Those who do not accept that ignoring the past is a path to repeating it.

Those who cannot recognize that “I, too, am America.”

I say,

Stop being so concerned with believing in Jesus that you neglect to be like Him.

I am a Christian…Black…woman, in that order.

What takes first place in your life?

#WhatsTheMessage EP 024: Preaching Black Lives (Matter)

In this episode we welcome Rev. Dr. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, PhD, interim Rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. She is the recent author and editor of the book Preaching Black Lives (Matter). We discuss with her the importance and necessity of preaching a Gospel that speaks to the value of Black lives, as well as have an interesting discussion about the inherent spirituality of the Black Lives Matter Movement. I can guarantee you will not regret tuning in to this amazing conversation.

While recording this powerful episode, our stream dealt with a few issues which caused the recording to break into a few parts. We were able to recover the parts and combine it into one video. Please watch the complete episode here.

Hilly, Kobe, Healing: An Open Letter to Black People on Father’s Day 2020

“Embrace the “beautiful struggle” of our existence, persistence, and resistance.

Fourteen years ago this week, I became a father overnight. On Sunday, June 18, 2006, I said “I do” to my beautiful bride, Bobbie, and I also officially said “I will” to Jalen, our handsome 12-year-old son, who walked his mom down the aisle, with Bobbie’s father on her other side. It was a Father’s Day and I not only became a husband, but that day I publicly accepted the calling to be a dad to a young man who had tragically lost his father to cancer a few years prior.

It was an exciting day for Bobbie, Jalen and me as our new family formed, yet there was complexity, as is common with blended family transitions. Most of our complexity came from navigating the vitriol of those struggling to accept that Bobbie had found love again—and of all people, love again, with me.


Bobbie’s first husband and Jalen’s father, Mandell (affectionately known to many as ‘Hilly’) was an amazing man. His death had shaken many in our small community. Ironically, Hilly’s battle with cancer intersected with the tragedy and ‘shift’ of September 11th, 2001. After Hilly passed in 2003, the subsequent disillusionment and displacement that many in our small community felt was not entirely dissimilar to the shift that others may feel now as a result of Covid-19 and the uprisings for justice—a new normal was upon us and life would never be the same.

Our marriage—our new normal—ruffled feathers. It was a unique time in life, an odd season. I was young. I quickly learned the difference between relatives and family, friends and frien(d)emies. People literally asked me prior to our wedding if I felt I had to compete with Hilly. There were no comparisons to be made on our end. Just a new season.

I knew, loved, and missed Hilly too. Bobbie had cared for and loved Hilly in sickness and in health; over time, she had healed and accepted that she could only go as far as the grave with him. She was ready to love again, and she was grateful to again have a life partner to raise Jalen. She never wanted to raise a young black boy by herself.

Black Dad Anniversary

I never wanted a blended family; I knew blended families could work based on my own unique family

Hilly and Jalen.

journey; but my dream was to have a “normal family,” consistent with my picket-fenced vision of all my children having the same last name. And I certainly didn’t want to set myself up for a young man to be able to say to me–as I once rudely said to my dad who adopted me– “you’re not my daddy!” But I loved Bobbie. I believed that she was the one that I had prayed for. And I loved Jalen and I knew I was called to do for Jalen what my dad did for me: to love, raise, and accept someone else’s son as my own. Many black men do this. Brothers, I see you. I appreciate you.

So my anniversary of marriage is also the anniversary of becoming a dad; my personal Father’s Day.

In addition to being the best husband I could be, I was determined to honor Hilly’s legacy by committing to do the best I could to raise his/ our son. Before the wedding, I took Jalen to visit his dad’s gravesite. We each picked three flowers at different points along the motorcycle ride to the grassy hill where his dad rests—one flower for his dad, one for Jalen, and one for me. It was there that we sat, we reflected, we prayed and we committed to each other one more time before he shared his mom with me and walked her down the aisle.

I was no longer “Ty” to him; he had chosen to give me the name “Daddy-O,” a name I loved from the start.

A lot has changed in 14 years. A lot has changed in 4 months! Jalen is finishing university and he is now a big brother to his doting little brother, Essien—our handsome 12 year old, and budding soccer player. Essien’s admiration for Jalen is such that when I recently asked him where he gets his athletic ability from—assuming he would proudly say ‘you, dad’ —he said “Jalen!”

So what does this have to do with Kobe Bryant?

Kobe, COVID, and Me

Well, January 26, 2020 was another one of those ‘shifting’ days for the world, for us, for sport, for fathers. Jalen’s 26th birthday was on January 26th. Bobbie, Essien, and I had already facetimed with him to celebrate his birthday! We are big sports fans in our house, especially soccer. Jalen and I are Lakers fans. We loved Kobe.

Young Hilly, and Baby Jalen.

When Kobe’s helicopter tragically crashed on Sunday, January 26th, 2020, Jalen was the first person to call me to share the sad news. His deep manly voice could not conceal the concern. I instantly knew something was wrong.

“Daddy-O, did you hear about Kobe?”

“What happened to Kobe?” I retorted with alarm.

“He died.”

The news sucked the joy out of Jalen’s birthday and the restaurant I was in as news quickly spread. News of the passing of Gigi—Kobe’s daughter, and the others on the helicopter compounded our grief. Named after Jalen Rose like so many others of his generation, I could sense in my Jalen’s voice that Kobe’s death ‘hit different.’

This wasn’t just about the passing of a basketball legend; it was the loss of a #girldad, a husband, a beautifully, imperfect Black man who we got to see transition from youthful exuberance on the court to responsible satisfaction in life beyond basketball.

More than this, there were some airy parallels for Jalen’s loss of Kobe on his 26th birthday on the 26th. Hilly died at 41 and Kobe was 41. Kobe looked like Hilly, like seriously! The eyes, chiseled nose and all. Had Kobe lived beyond 41, Jalen probably could have gotten a glimpse of what his dad would have looked like in old age. But that was snatched away on his birthday.

Father’s Day That Hits Differently

So much has been taken from all of us since then, COVID-19 canceled much of our normal. We’ve lost Armaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and many others to the bullets and knees of racist police and systems that make it difficult for Black folks to breathe.

And yet, we are still here. Still strategizing. Still marching. Still fighting. Still demanding justice and systematic change. Still taking care of our children and “other people’s children” too, in the words of renown educator Lisa Delpit. We’ve had to homeschool and reorganize. We’ve had to share space, and wifi bandwidth, and extended time with our families—our Black families; and while it has been hard for many of us, we are still here. And we needed this time to remember that our ancestors endured so that we could be here.

This Father’s Day will likely ‘hit different’ than any other. It should. We’ve been through a lot. But I also hope it will be a Father’s Day that heals. A Father’s Day when we “Embrace the B.S.”—the “beautiful struggle” of our existence, persistence, and resistance. The “beautiful struggle” of our uniquely conjoined family arrangements, identities, accents and cultural accoutrements. The struggle of father loss, father gain, fatherhood, father strain, father pain, father joy.

Beautiful Struggle

The beauty of “I’m sorry,” of a text message to a distant dad, of forgiveness of self and others, of release from the wounds of long, life journeys. The beauty of a walk, of a talk, of a meal, of a smile, of silence—no violence, of hope, of healing. The beautiful struggle and gift of reflection, reconnection and resurrection of the possibility and promise that irrespective of whether your earthly father has been present, your Heavenly Father has always been with you!

This is the beautiful struggle of our individual and collective lives and existence; lives that matter—whether your father has been amazing and ‘there’ or whether the relationship has been a cause of despair. You matter. Black lives matter. Black fathers matter. Black mothers matter. Black children matter. Black families matter and we goin’ be alright!

RIP Kobe and Gigi…RIP Hilly. RIP to all our fathers and forefathers, whether they stood or were misunderstood. May God cover and comfort all of our children and families on this Father’s Day.



More than a few good men, the fight for racial justice and equality seeks interracial enlistment and engagement.

After the 2014 killing of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, the Rev. Jim Wallis joined in the protests that followed. Wallis is the president and founder of Sojourners, a faith-based social justice organization headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Wallis traveled from D.C. to Ferguson to speak out against police brutality against African-Americans. He also did multiple media interviews.

“If white Christians would act more like Christians instead of like white people, black parents would have less fear for their children,” Wallis said during a November radio interview.

Jim Wallis
Jim Wallis

Wallis, by the way, is white.

In 2017, the term de jour for Wallis and others like him was “allies.” The Sojourners website even published an essay addressing the phenomenon titled “For Our White Friends

Desiring to Be Allies.”



Foxhole Friends

But history indicates that there have always been white allies helping black people through their American struggle. William Lloyd Garrison was one of the earliest examples. The well-known abolitionist published 1,820 issues of his anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator over 35 years, not even allowing a relationship-ending philosophical riff between him and the legendary Frederick Douglass to dissuade him.

Frances Anne “Fanny” Kemble was another Civil War-era white ally. The British actress and abolitionist was very open about her opposition to slavery—even after she discovered that Pierce Butler, the American she had married, was a slave master.

The list of historic white allies includes John Brown, the Civil War-era abolitionist who was hung after leading an attack on Harper’s Ferry, a military arsenal; Viola Liuzzo, the housewife from Detroit who was supporting blacks in Alabama protesting for the right to vote when she was killed by the Ku Klux Klan in 1965; and the Rev. Jonathan Daniels, an Episcopal seminarian who also was in Alabama supporting voting rights in 1965 when he was killed in a brutal storefront altercation.

New Battles and New Soldiers

Five decades later, despite dramatic changes in laws and social policies, African-Americans are still suffering disturbing institutional practices and actions, particularly some utilized by law enforcement. Victor White, III, a 22-year-old from Iberia Parish, Louisiana was killed in police custody on March 22, 2014. The coroner ruled that a self-inflicted gunshot took White’s life. The young man was in the back of a police cruiser—with his hands shackled behind his back—when he supposedly shot himself.

A few months later, 43-year-old Eric Garner was killed by New York police while being apprehended on a Staten Island street. An NYPD officer put Garner in a chokehold, and the city medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide. The deaths of White and Garner made the national news. So did John Crawford’s. And Tamir Rice’s. All at the hands of the police, and under circumstances that have angered and disturbed many African-Americans and others.

These tragedies certainly helped to catalyze the current white ally movement, along with the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin by civilian vigilante George Zimmerman. But the final match to light that fire had to have been Charlottesville.

On the night of August 11, 2017, white supremacists and anti-supremacist counter-demonstrators clashed violently at the base of the Thomas Jefferson statue on the University of Virginia campus. The next day there were more protests and more violence, culminating in the killing of social justice advocate and white ally Heather Heyer. 

End to White Silence

Five days later, this event announcement was posted on Facebook for a meeting, “Spotting White Supremacy: Capacity Building for White Allies.” The cover photo for the post featured these words: “White silence is violence. #BlackLivesMatter.” Facebook indicated that more than 2,000 people expressed interest, and that 317 attended the event.

Robert Lee IV
Robert Lee IV


It was also after Charlottesville that Rob Lee, a United Church of Christ Pastor from Winston Salem, North Carolina, was invited to appear on the MTV Video Music Awards. Lee is the great-great-great-great-nephew of Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee.

“We have made my ancestor an idol of white supremacy, racism, and hate,” he said that night. “As a pastor, it is my moral duty to speak out against racism, America’s original sin. Today, I call on all of us with privilege and power to answer God’s call to confront racism and white supremacy head-on.”

Lee also affirmed the Black Lives Matter movement in his remarks. Unfortunately for him, criticisms came swiftly from some members of his own congregation, Bethany United Church of Christ in Winston-Salem, North Carolina – so much so that Lee decided to resign his pastorate just days after his VMA speech.

“I didn’t see it (the speech) as divisive,” Lee told Message. “I saw it as a potential for us to come together.”

Lee’s journey is a fascinating one, and not just because of his decision to speak out on MTV against his controversial ancestor. As a child, he used to have a Confederate flag hanging in his bedroom.

“I was proud of Robert E. Lee,” he said.

He credits Bertha Hamilton, his confirmation mentor in the United Methodist Church, for challenging his thinking about celebrating the Confederacy and its flag. Hamilton is an African-American woman who he described in an essay as “a humble servant and someone in whom I see the face of God.”


“She asked me why I did that,” Lee recalled. “She made me ask the questions of myself that society would eventually ask of me.”

Hamilton’s questions helped Lee find his ministerial and social justice calling early. “I knew that God had called me to minister to those who were feeling oppressed by a system,” he said.

Perceptions Persist

Many white Americans don’t seem to relate to claims of oppression by African-Americans. In fact, a majority of whites feel that they are subject to oppression, according to an October 2017 poll conducted by National Public Radio (NPR), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

“If you apply for a job, they seem to give the blacks the first crack at it,” Tim Hershman of Akron, Ohio, told NPR. “If you want any help from the government, if you’re white, you don’t get it. If you’re black, you get it.”


No matter what view one has of race relations and social justice in the United States, it appears there always will be at least one conflicting view—just as there has been since 1619 when the first African slaves were brought here in chains. But just as there have always been horrific race-based injustices, there have always been brave voices to oppose them. Black voices, such as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner and Harriet Tubman. White voices such as Brown, Kemble, Garrison, Liuzzo and Daniels—and now, a new generation of white allies such as Wallis and Lee, speaking to modern Americans in search of healing and truth.

It is important for this work to represent multiple voices, and we continue to seek out innovative ways to effectively engage our church community around racial issues, as well as the community on social issues. Being able to stand up for those often silenced and marginalized is a responsibility we don’t take for granted, and we intend to show up, every day to make a difference. We are happy to partner with leaders who are not black or brown because acknowledging privilege is not something we shy away from. We must see it, call it out, and those who benefit must use it to create equitable systems for all. That is Christianity. That is the gospel come alive. The gospel of Christ is social justice.”
—Tiffany Llewellyn, President and CEO- Adventists for Social Justice
Multi-racial, multi-ethnic, problem-solving panel at the 2017 Adventist for Social Justice Conference in Takoma Park, Maryland.


DAVID PERSON is the owner of DavidPersonMedia, LLC. Since 1986, he has been working as a broadcaster, journalist, documentary director, and media consultant. His work has been featured on NPR, Tom Joyner’s BlackAmericaWeb website and public radio stations across the nation.

Teaching The Value Of Lives

In the United States of America, there is a serious problem of people killing people. To some Americans, it is clear, there is not a high value placed on human life. Each day, individuals kill close relatives, friends, co-workers, neighbors, spouses, employers, and strangers. No lives seem to matter to some.

According to the United States Center for Disease Control we experience more than 16,100 needless deaths per year due to homicides. This is 5.1 for every 100,000 people. Of these, 11,200 or 3.5 per 100,000 represent firearm deaths.

Is This What Constitutional Framers Wanted?

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” But, did our founding fathers foresee the kinds of firearms to be invented and mass-produced? Did they contemplate that the firearms would end up in the hands of mentally ill or the career criminal who cannot or will not respect human life? If they had foreseen this, would they have written what was written and left unwritten what was left unwritten? Would they have stated what was stated as the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? Would our virtually unlimited or un-infringed freedoms have been more important to those Founding Fathers than those thousands of lives lost by gunfire each year whether intentionally or accidentally?

Having spent several years in the U.S. military, I am aware that our militia is “well regulated” including and regarding the issues of keeping and bearing arms. However, gun manufacturers and a large number of our congressional leaders object to any infringement of our gun-bearing rights. This is true, even though the general population has no safety training or psychological preparation for the use of such weapons. Nor is there enough guidance for keeping such out of the hands of children who end up accidentally shooting family members every year. Even husbands kill wives while trying to clean guns. In June of 2016 our hearts were broken as a pastor reportedly accidentally killed his wife.

Teaching The Value Of Lives

Perhaps those with responsibilities for instilling moral values could do more to convey that nothing justifies the taking of a life except, possibly, to keep that individual from committing homicide or multiple murders.

Loving and responsible mothers and fathers value lives. Black lives, brown lives, white lives, and blue lives are important when viewed by loving mothers and fathers. Love has much to do with it. But so does hate. Thou shalt not kill and thou shalt love. Whenever an ugly problem surfaces, haters begin to blame those they hate. They try to connect dots where there are no dots.

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution gives the right to bear arms to its citizens. But, did the constitution's framers foresee today's violence?
The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution gives the right to bear arms to its citizens. But, did the constitution’s framers foresee today’s violence?

The accidental shooting referenced above may make this a good time to remind pastors in general to take a stand. Stand against blame and hatred spread by political leaders. Stand against exaggeration based on partisan politics, especially when racial hatred is injected. This kind of divisiveness may increase the violence, especially violence against minorities. Clergy should condemn all sin including racial discrimination, hate crimes, political lies, and all types of murder, character killings, and personal destruction.

Politicians should tone down their accusatory rhetoric especially when the verbiage crosses racial lines.   That may win some political support by appealing to racism and being tough on minorities. This, however,  contributes to the destruction of unity in the community and in the nation.

Children should learn before they have the ability or resources to contribute to violence. Church services, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School and other religious and community programs have responsibilities. Television, movies, and musicians have responsibilities. Athletics can tone down the type of competition that stresses “win at all costs.”

America is hurting and dying. Opportunities for friendship and cooperation, and promotion of same, can save lives, possibly yours and mine.



Hard Questions For Black And Blue Lives

This Isn’t Going Away

It will be years before people forget, if ever, the live stream of Diamond Reynolds calmly reciting her account of the shooting death of her boyfriend, Philando Castile. He slumped to her side, apparently breathing his last breath. Nor will we forget the video of Alton Sterling being wrestled to the ground in Louisiana by two police officers with guns drawn while he struggled beneath them. This is just before they shot and killed him.

One reason we won’t forget is that they have been enshrined on the Internet. They’ve been seen by millions on Facebook, shared countless times, linked to scores of news stories. But another reason is that as Americans continue to wrestle with race and policing, these videos present what many see as the disturbing truth.  Black men receive disparate treatment during police encounters.

Implicit Bias At Work

The Washington Post reported that 505 people were killed by the police in 2016 as of the week of July 4th.  Of those, 24 percent were black. Considering that blacks comprise only 13 percent of the nation’s population, their deaths are disturbingly disproportionate.

Robin Wright of the Kirwan Institute at Ohio State University, who specializes in implicit bias, told the New York Times that the problem is the way society stereotypes black people.

“If you see a black person with a weapon, you don’t assume that it’s legal,” Wright said.

The Sniper’s Deflection

People also will not easily forget – nor should they – the killing of five police officers after a peaceful protest in Dallas, Texas. The protestors exercised their constitutional rights to express concern about the police killings of Castile, Sterling and other black men. But the sniper – identified as 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson of Mesquite, Texas – apparently was engaged in a murderous, racist, anti-police rampage. Before he was killed by police after negotiations failed, Johnson reportedly said that he wanted to kill white people. He wanted to shoot white police officers in particular.


Seven  other officers were injured during the shooting spree. Investigators believe he was the lone shooter, but aren’t convinced he actually was working alone.

So where does all of this killing leave us? No better off than we were before, unless we decide that the actions of several police officers – whose motives, in fairness to them, have yet to be established in a court of law – or one sniper and his shadowy cohorts will not define the American experience for us.

Black lives matter. Blue lives matter, too. They matter equally to their families and colleagues, and are guaranteed the same protections under our nation’s constitution.

Time To Ask The Hard Questions

And because they matter, we should ask the hard questions that can lead our nation to accountability for how our citizens are treated – those who wear the badge and those who don’t.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton did just that after the killing of Castile.

“Would this have happened if the driver were white, if the passengers were white?” Dayton asked during a press conference. “I don’t think it would have.”

President Obama also raised questions at his first press conference from Warsaw, Poland, which was held long before the Dallas sniper attacks occurred.

“What if this happened to someone in your family?” the president asked. “How would you feel?”



2016 January/February Issue


Civil Rights Icon and Congressman John R. Lewis Discusses Resistance Technique

Black Lives Matter meets Civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman John R. Lewis, who still gets into “good trouble.”

by William Lee / Want to help a brother out with family, finances and friendship? Try this.

by Carmela Monk Crawford / Black Lives Matter meets Civil rights icon and Georgia Congressman John R. Lewis, who still gets into “good trouble.”

by Claude and Jocelyn Thomas / “Professional lovers” put 50 years of tips in the palm of your hands.

18 ISIs and the fulfillment of prophecy
by Keith A. Burton / Ideological strivings and terror can only be defeated by something greater.

by David Person / First American musicians invited to perform in Cuba.

by Cleveland Wilson / He directed the choir for 40 years, but couldn’t hear the voice of God.

by Rich Aguilera / Scientific advances on the shoulders of believers.


by Phillip McGuire Wesley / MEDIA THAT TAKES YOU HIGHER

by Carmela Monk Crawford / THE HIGH ROAD

8 optimal health
by Donna Green Goodman / GREAT BEGINNINGS!
by Shelem Flemons / New Year’s Revolution

by Willie and Elaine Oliver / bridezilla on a budget

24 futurecast
by Carlton P. Byrd / The Great Requirement

26 The experience
by Ellen G. White / Fragrant Anointing
The experience study
by Rashad Burden / Divinely Disruptive

30 Myth busters
by Donald McPhaull / Peter and the Pope



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The Great Requirement

Reactions to the deaths of unarmed Black men by non-Black law enforcement officers prompted the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Concerns about wealth distribution in the United States fostered the “Occupy” movement. Many voices, including politicians, pastors, educators, counselors, psychologists, and businesspersons have responded in various ways. Yet, amid the cacophony of voices in the public square, one question rings in my ears: What does Jesus have to say on the issue of social justice? What does Jesus say concerning our treatment and care for one another? Unsurprisingly, Jesus had much to say.
In Matthew 25:35 and 36, Jesus said:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Then Jesus concluded,

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (verse 40).

We often quote the great commandment of Matthew 22:37-39 about loving God and loving our neighbor. We practice the Great Commission of Matthew 28 to teach and preach the everlasting gospel. Yet, do we adhere to the Great Requirement found in Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (NKJV).

These three requirements—do justly, love mercy,and walk humbly with God—are behaviors that embody social justice, along with the fair, equitable treatment of all persons. Let us briefly examine these requirements. First, to “do justly” is to act with fairness, honesty, and integrity. There is an old saying that “honesty is the best policy.” But for a follower of Christ, honesty is the only policy. When we are “just” with others, we act with honesty and integrity. Hence, doing justice is “doing things right” and “doing the right things.”

Second, the Scripture calls us to “love mercy,” which is not to be mistaken with having mercy. There is a difference between loving mercy and having mercy. Put simply, we are not to perform acts of kindness merely from a sense of compliance, conformity, or compulsion, but rather our expression of mercy should be motivated by love.
Finally, we are required to walk humbly with God. Ironically, when the text speaks of what God requires, the first two requirements primarily deal with how we relate and act towards one another. Yet, this third requirement outlines God’s expectation for us to have a right relationship with Him, and this relationship should always begin with humility. Additionally, whenever you walk with someone, three things must be true:

  1. you must go in the same direction,
  2. walk at the same pace, not getting ahead or falling behind, and
  3. you must be going to the same destination. These characteristics should epitomize our walk with God.

What does the Lord require of us? How do we answer the social justice question? What should be our treatment of others? We must do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. This is the “Great Requirement” that, when practiced, will steer us to our heavenly destination.

Do Black Lives Really Matter To The Church Triumphant?

As yet another Black man’s death comes at the hands of a White police officer, and the mysterious injuries that led to the death of a Black man in Baltimore after his arrest, reap headlines, a largely unpublicized, but highly significant dispute over the use of deadly force—mostly in minority communities—simmers out of sight.

Unlike the horrific scenes caught on cell phones in North Charleston, South Carolina, or in Baltimore, Maryland, very few media are focusing on the controversy regarding unjust, brutal policing between Franklin Graham, the son of the internationally famous evangelist, Billy Graham and Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and a leader in the Christian social justice movement. Nevertheless, given the national prominence of both men, the dispute has broad social, economic and political implications for the society at large.

The younger Graham, who directs Samaritan’s Purse, an international aid organization based in Boone, North Carolina, ignited the controversy with a Facebook post that shocked a large number of Evangelical ministers, lay leaders and many in the wider faith community.

“Listen up,” he commanded, “Blacks, Whites, Latinos and everybody else. Most police shootouts can be avoided. It comes down to respect for authority and obedience.

“If a police officer tells you to stop,” he continued, “you stop. If a police officer tells you to put your hands in the air, you put your hands in the air. If a police officer tells you to lay down face first with your hands behind your back, you lay down face first with your hands behind your back. It’s as simple as that. Even if you think the police officer is wrong–You OBEY.”

“Parents, teach your children to respect and obey those in authority,” the statement went on. It concluded, “Mr. President, this is a message our nation needs to hear and they need to hear it from you. Some of the unnecessary shootings we have seen recently might have been avoided. The Bible says to submit to your leaders and those in authority “because they keep watch over you as those who must give account.” Graham’s post drew more than 200,000 “likes” and 83,000 “shares.”

James Wallis, the nationally regarded White clergyman who founded Sojourners, responded to Graham’s Facebook post in writing.

“Dear Franklin,” his letter began, “the real issue here goes much deeper than obedience to the police or lack thereof. We all need and should obey good police officers whose important mission is to serve and protect—but that must be done equally and without racial bias. Most African American men, in particular, could tell you their own, personal stories of mistreatment by White police officers, which had nothing to do with not obeying them. Many Black women and other people of color could tell you stories too. You should be listening to them.”

The reality, he said, “is that there are two policing and legal systems in America; one for Black and Brown people and one for White people—and that is now well documented, showing it is most stark for Black men and especially young Black men.”

Wallis directed Graham to “please read the Department of Justice report clearly proving strong racial bias in the Ferguson police department and the report of Presidential Policing Commission (with six police commissioners on the task force), which shows that this is a national problem.

Why do you speak only of the Bible’s command to submit to authority and not to the many Scriptures which challenge the sin of racism?

Remember, in ‘Christ there is no Jew or Greek.’ Also, the Bible does not say that the law is always right. Jesus challenged the laws of his day when they were unjustly applied or interpreted and the Apostle Paul wrote the Epistles from prison.”

The accomplishments of the Civil rights Movement, Wallis recalled, “were only possible because many brave Americans, including many Christians, non-violently disobeyed unjust laws and the authorities who sought to enforce them.”

Wallis told Graham that “its time to listen to, and learn from, Americans of color, including our Black brothers and sisters in Christ. Listen to why all Black parents have to have “the talk” about White police with their sons and daughters. Your Facebook post makes you seem, at best, oblivious to the racial inequity in this country’s policing and criminal justice system, which is also still deeply embedded in our American society. At worse, your post reflects your own racial biases—unconscious or conscious. It makes me sad to read such things coming from a leader of your position. So until you are equally willing “to listen up,” please stop making such embarrassing and divisive statements.”

Some 31 other Evangelical ministers—Black, White, Asian and Latino—in “An Open Letter” reinforced Wallis’ admonition with several of their own. Graham’s words “hurt and influenced thousands,” said the ministers, who noted that their action was guided by “the spirit of Matthew 18.”

Therefore, they advised, “we must respond publicly, so that those you hurt might know you have received a reply and the hundreds of thousands you influenced might know that following your lead on this issue will further break the body of Christ.”

“Are you also aware,” they asked, “that your commentary resonates with the types of misinterpretations and rhetoric echoed by many in the antebellum church?” Are you aware that the southern slavocracy validated the systemic subjugation of human beings made in the image of God by instructing these enslaved human beings to “obey their masters because the Bible instructed them to do so?”

“As one who understands human depravity, your statement demonstrates a profound disregard for the impact of sinful individuals when given power to craft systems and structures that govern millions. The outcome is oppression and impoverishment—in a word, injustice,” they declared.

“Finally,” they concluded, “if you insist on blind obedience, then you must also insist that officers of the justice system obey the Constitution, which protects the right of all to equal protection under the law. Yet (numerous) reports confirm unconscious racial biases in policing, booking, sentencing and in return, racially disparate outcomes within our broken justice system.” The letter ended by quoting James B. Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation: “First, all of us in law enforcement must be honest enough to acknowledge that much of our history is not pretty. At many points in American history, law enforcement enforced the status quo, a status quo that was often brutally unfair to disfavored groups.”

For this article, two nationally recognized religious leaders, an often-quoted authority in policing and a nationally regarded civil rights attorney, were asked to comment on Graham’s post. They are: C. Garnett Henning, a retired bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Dr. Norman S. Johnson, Sr., a former executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC/LA), Diop Kamau, the founder of Policeabuse.com, which represents victims, most lacking for their defense and Philip J. Kaplan, who practices law in California and Louisiana.

Graham’s post, said the bishop, “showed no Christian humility. Instead, his simplistic response to the historic and contemporary killing of Black and Latino youth sounds too much like ‘slaves be obedient to your masters’—to which he adds, ‘whether they are right or wrong.’ In offering his solution to the many senseless killings, he ignores the many who obeyed, but were killed anyway.”

Johnson said Graham’s post ” does not reflect reality or historical awareness, but a lack of socio-political thinking of how the words of clergy, particularly someone with the name Graham, challenges or confirms the views of conservative Christians.

“Graham’s use of Hebrews 37 is curious,” Johnson noted. “The text refers to ‘those who watch over your souls. Police officers are clearly not ministers or prophets who watch over our souls. That he would even imply that the function of law enforcement is to watch over our souls is unconscionable, if that is the Scripture he is referring to.”

For nearly two weeks, repeated attempts to reach Graham for comment for this article were unsuccessful.

Attorney Kaplan, in searching to identify the underlying causes of police abuse and violence, said, “in the same way that we now can’t question the reality of climate change, we really can’t question whether there is discord between many police departments and the communities they serve. The real question is, why is that? I don’t pretend to be a sociologist, yet I believe we must not see this as an isolated issue, I believe this reflects a deeper social problem.”

“You can’t deny that there is a divide, a rift. It’s a deeper issue that needs to be examined, said Kaplan, who has represented police officers as well as victims of police abuse.

“There are lots of really good police officers who would never think of abusing anyone and really good police officers who have chosen to be silent, for reasons I can understand,” he said.

“I believe in good policing, have represented officers in excessive force situations and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in representing them in all sorts of situations, so I know something about what they do and what their jobs entail,” he said. Moreover, Kaplan said, “there ought to be more scrutiny of command staff and chiefs of police.”

“I have a lot of empathy for rank and file officers; they’re taking directions, or lack of direction, from the command staff. The debate ought to include scrutiny of police departments, command staff and chiefs of police. If any discussion leaves them out and just focuses on rank and file officers–patrol officers, then we’re missing something very important,” Kaplan cautioned.

Kamau, an expert investigator and highly decorated undercover officer, focused on Graham’s apparent lack of due diligence before posting his opinion.

Graham, said Kamau, “cited no evidence that grossly discriminatory enforcement patterns are tied to the behavior patterns of the Black and Latino communities they serve. Unfortunately, Kamau added, “there is a lack of evidence to demonstrate that large numbers of whites are treated similarly on displaying similar behaviors.”

When Graham “can find a population of Whites who are similarly mistreated by police, he might have a point. There is no evidence, however, that Whites, in large numbers, risk similar misconduct and abuse in similar encounters and circumstances,” Kamau said.

If Graham “were to analyze payouts by major cities to settle police misconduct lawsuits since 1985, he would see that the victims were not compensated for an alleged lack of cooperation. In fact, just the opposite was the case,” Kamau said.

Indeed, Kamau continued, “African Americans, especially men, cooperate with police officers more than most people, yet are often harmed by the use of very draconian measures. In employing ‘stop and frisk’–it shouldn’t be be called ‘stop and frisk,’ instead, it ought to be called, ‘stop and humiliate’–far too many officers attempt to strip Black men of their dignity.”