Thursday, August 30, 2007

Baptist Ministerial Association Finds It Impossible To Love Thy Neighbor


Apparently, in the minds of the Memphis Ministerial Association, He would scream, threaten and bully.

In fact, if we’ve ever seen the antithesis of Christ-like behavior, it was in the reception that the preachers gave their Congressman, Steve Cohen.

While a guiding principle of the Gospel normally is “love the sinner and hate the sin,” apparently, in Congressman Cohen’s case, his main sin was being white and tolerant.

It’s About Character

As members of the group channeled a brand of intolerance and misinformation that would have made the late Jerry Falwell proud, Congressman Cohen tried to explain the proposed hate crime bill that is pending in Congress. Apparently, some in the audience were concerned that the law would prevent them from preaching hate from their pulpits. It won’t.

It's a sad commentary on how hollow the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist preacher who truly lived his faith, sometimes seem today. These days, for some, it apparently is all about the color of someone's skin, not about the content of their character.

Just imagine the indignation of Rev. Robert Poindexter of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church if a white person had said: "Harold Ford Jr.'s not white so he can't represent me. That's just the bottom line." Any person who would make such a comment would be rightly vilified and attacked, but sadly when the roles are reversed, there seems to be an astounding lack of empathy and self-reflection.

Civility MIA

Of course, we need to keep all of this in balance. Not all of the ministers were rude or lacked good manners, if not civility.

Some in attendance were just as embarrassed by this rude behavior as any other Memphian of good will, but most held their tongues as Congressman Cohen was chastised, scolded and upbraided – and even called “boy” - by some members of the Baptist Ministerial Association. It's a troubling trend in our city these days, but moderate and progressive African-American leaders often seem unwilling to call down the unreasonable, outrageous comments of their colleagues, whether it is the Ministerial Association, Memphis City Council or the Shelby County Board of Commissioners.

In all of those bodies, the majority of members are reasonable and civil, but remaining quiet results in the strident members and their coarse rhetoric becoming the “face” of the organization to the world. It’s unfortunate and unnecessary.

Speaking Out

We seem to still be in a period of transition in Memphis as mainstream African-American leaders come to grips with a central fact of life - they are now in charge – and because of it, when they criticize someone of the same color, it is not an act of treason but a test of leadership.

But back to the Memphis Ministerial Association’s meeting with Congressman Cohen: It was so clearly political in nature, tone and attitude that it should raise questions about the organization’s IRS status. If it was not political but philosophical, we assume that the ministers will now publicly condemn Rep. Ford's support of the same hate crime bill when he was in the U.S. Congress. And while they’re at it, they can upbraid the NAACP, PUSH, and Urban League.

Most troubling to us, however, is the undertow of ugly anti-Semitism in all this. One Ministerial Association member has even told his congregation that "someone who doesn't believe in Jesus shouldn't be representing us." Of course, the fact that Jesus was a Jew seems to elude him as much as the basic knowledge of his own religion.

Rocky Start

For ministers of a religion built on the premise that only people without sin should cast the first stone, many in the Memphis Ministerial Association need a rock pile for all they’re throwing these days – and all because a federal law suggests that inciting violence against gays should be against the law. It’s a strange church that doesn’t already have that on its list of sins.

Based on the comments about gays by Rev. LaSimba Gray of New Sardis Baptist Church, we’re just glad he wasn’t alive at the same time as his Savior. Surely, he would have been the first to criticize someone who roamed the countryside with 12 other men – a little too Village People for sure.

But in truth, this isn’t funny. It isn’t entertaining. It is, in short, appalling that the members of the majority race of the majority religion should have so little regard for the backbone of our society – fair play, equality, brotherhood and tolerance. In a way, however, we owe the ministers our thanks, because for just a few minutes, all of us trapped in our white skin felt a little of what it’s like to be gay.

Tucked In The Closet

Most of all, all of this certainly illuminates why so many African-American gays and lesbians live their lives deeply in the recesses of the closet.

Just as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson mistakenly believed that God had taken sides in presidential elections, our own Baptist ministers mistakenly believe that he has taken sides in the values wars. To most of us who become spectators to these kinds of events and the regular pronouncements about “family values,” we end up feeling like our faith is being stolen and it’s time to reclaim it.

As a result of the kind of behavior shown at the Memphis Ministerial Association meeting and the kind of anti-gay vitriol spewed by some prominent Christian leaders, there is a misperception by the news media that somehow these views represent Christianity and that these people represent our faith. The truth is they are uniformly 180 degrees from what our faith means.

Civil Dialogue

To us, the essence of Christianity calls on all of us to ensure that gay and lesbian partnerships have legitimate legal protection, regardless of our individual views on gay marriage. These are matters of fundamental civil rights, and it’s disturbing that those who have felt the sting of inequality are not now leaders for equal rights for every American.

As Sojourner magazine has wisely said, let’s not worry about taking a position on gay marriage right now, but commit ourselves to the civil dialogue between Christians who understand that their faith is anchored in justice and compassion. If the heads of our churches can’t lead that kind of discussion, we are doomed.

As for us here, we continue to believe that the legalities of marriage should be separated from the church – as they once were. Couples, whatever their gender, should be free to receive civil union papers from the government. These would protect basic rights, such as inheritance, ownership of property and health insurance. It’s then up to individual churches to conduct marriage ceremonies, and each of them can decide whom they are willing to marry. We have no quarrel with churches who believe that marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman, as long as they do not interfere with the churches that offer blessings on same-sex couples.

The Secret Lives Of Gays

There’s just something strange about the Church taking a stand against people who want to make life-long commitments. With the 50-50 chances of heterosexual marriages succeeding, certainly same-sex ceremonies can’t do much injury to the record of straight couples. After all, the weakening of marriage is solely a creation of heterosexuals.

Here’s the dirty little secret about gays and lesbians – the values they exhibit in their daily lives are no different than the rest of us. They are committed to their neighborhoods, they love their family, they follow the law, they volunteer to charities, they try to be good citizens, they want meaningful relationships and most remarkably of all, they are religious.

As George Lakoff points out in his book, Moral Politics, the religious right is based on a “strict father” metaphor of morality, in which a wise father (whether church or political leader) sets the rules and the children (the people) do what they are told. These black-and-white moral values exist, in the father’s view, not just to help people behave morally but to maintain social order and discipline.

Threatening Power

Adherence to these rules implies the legitimacy of the “father,” who often is treated or sees himself as speaking for God. As a result, the people who move away from that established order are doing much more than misbehaving or acting immorally. More to the point, they are threatening the rules by showing that other paths are possible and calling into question the “father’s” authority.

We don’t do the theory justice here, but clearly, the Memphis Ministerial Association is so invested in this father-child view of the world that even a hate crime bills becomes a threat. It’s too bad, because in the end, anytime we strengthen the rights of every one in society, we strengthen our own. In fact, there’s no greater lesson from the civil rights movement than that.

In the end, these ministers have to know in their hearts that the hate crimes act isn’t really about eroding their First Amendment rights – unless they are urging members to create violence – and all in all, it’s just a little too reminiscent of the firebrand preachers in too many Southern churches who gave their congregations permission to hate blacks during the civil rights struggle.

Support Hate Crimes Bill

The Baptist Ministerial Association is calling on people to write the offices of Congressman Cohen to oppose the hate crimes bill. We urge you to do just the opposite, and for that reason, here’s the congressman’s mailing address:

1004 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: 202-225-3265 and fax: 202-225-05663

If you want to send an email, click Contact me on his website at

Hopefully, before the Baptist Ministerial Association meets with him again on this issue, they take a verse from their own book: “Blessed are the peacemakers.”


Anonymous said...

Excellent Blog!!!

John Hosty said...

This is the second article the KTN wrote, and it is a great explanation of their philosophy:

Encouraging Democracy Not Intimidation

The initiative petition process is the closest we get to direct democracy at the state government level. It allows the citizens to bypass the normal legislative process to push forward legislation on their own. In effect, the citizens become the legislators.

But that comes at a price. Just as a state senator must weigh his or her own personal convictions against those of constituents when making a decision to support or oppose legislation, so the citizen legislator must weigh his or her own personal convictions against those of friends and neighbors. The state senator risks alienating a part of the constituency. The citizen legislator risks losing respect in the community.

Now as an average citizen, realizing how much power your signature actually has can be a little scary. I can even understand how someone might feel "intimidated" by such power being vested in them by our system of democracy. But in the end, what's really going on is that individual citizens are being empowered to make decisions that directly affect the lives of their neighbors with the middle man (the legislature) taken somewhat out of the equation. This is a privilege of living in a democratic society and must be taken seriously!

Therefore, don't just sign the clipboard because it gets shoved in your face outside Stop 'n Shop and you're in a rush. Sign it because you fully understand the issue at hand, have weighed the repercussions on yourself and your neighbors, and truly believe the Commonwealth would be better off if the legislation was enacted!

We at believe that if the people of Massachusetts take the initiative petition process with the seriousness that it is due, reasonable people will see the petition for what it really is and decide not to sign it.

Aaron Toleos, Director

September 13, 2005

Anonymous said...

Nashville's looking better and better all the time.

captainkona said...

Magnificent job with this article, SCM. This is "A" list quality writing. Keep up the good work.

steve said...

Great blog entry.

I tried to email the congressman with support, but unfortunately the email system won't take emails from folks living outside the 9th.

Though I'm a native Memphian, I now live out of state.

That really should be changed. Cohen has made his mark in the national progressive blogosphere. I understand the logistics--he's mainly interested in constituent services as he should be, but it would still be nice to give him a pat on the back from 700 miles away.

Tif said...

I live in Shelby County but not the 9th district, and I had no trouble emailing him.

fearlessvk said...

As for us here, we continue to believe that the legalities of marriage should be separated from the church – as they once were. Couples, whatever their gender, should be free to receive civil union papers from the government. These would protect basic rights, such as inheritance, ownership of property and health insurance. It’s then up to individual churches to conduct marriage ceremonies, and each of them can decide whom they are willing to marry.

I completely agree with this, but I just wanted to add a note: what you're talking about here is more than just the separation of marriage and church - you're actually describing the separation of marriage and state.

"Marriage" would become, on this view, a personal matter, not an official public designation. People could of course continue to be married and have these marriages recognized by whatever willing institutions they choose. But the state, for its part, would recognize and strengthen relationships of mutual care and dependency rather than "marriages" - although obviously marriages would qualify for such recognition. These relationships ultimately needn't even be romantic or intimate in nature - two sisters living together whose lives are fundamentally intertwined could also qualify for the relevant rights and benefits. Such a system could, in the long run, defuse the rancor of the gay marriage debate and get the state out of the business of moralism.

Anonymous said...

What does the BMA think is the point of e-mailing Cohen to express opposition for the Hate Crimes bill? It's already passed the House - they need to be urging people to e-mail Alexander and Corker if that's their real aim. Why didn't they raise objections when Jr. sponsored the bill? How do they reconcile their opposition to the bill and support for it by civil rights groups, and the entire Black Democratic Caucus? I know the answers, I just find their complete lack of logic and reason to be infuriating.

Ron McAndrew said...

How on God's good earth can the Baptist Ministerial Association maintain its Federal 501C status whilst politicing with racist politics against U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen. It's also non-Christian. This man went to your district, presented himself for what he is and you elected him. I also smell anti-semetic pressure coming from the associations crock pot! Let us put racisim back in the past where it belongs and move on in the direction the Jesus wants. Ron McAndrew

Paul Jamieson said...


Anonymous said...

Dear NAACP President,

The week after Senator Obama announced his candidacy, I gave him and his wife a prophecy that I had uncovered in 1984 and gave to Rev. Jesse Jackson. It was not Jackson so I thought it might refer to Obama who is raised up 40 years after King.

Please read and do with it as you are impressed.

Thanks and Blessings,

Kenneth Adderley

Professor of History & Religious Studies
Bethsaida Bible Institute
Waterloo, IA 50703
"There's always more knowledge . . ."

Barack Obama Campaign ‘08


A Biblical Rationale for the Presidential Campaign of Barak Obama


Kenneth R. Adderley, Ph.D., M.Div., M.A.

Professor of Religion & Theology

Bethsaida Bible Institute

November 2007

The devil hit us with Osama,

But God raised up Obama,

The devil hastily made a death-launching push

By stealing elections and approving Bush,

But God, whose Will is not slack,

Remembered the prophecy and raised up Barak. ©

I. Jacob’s Prophecy

A. Black Slavery Prophesied (Genesis 49: 14-15)

1. Before Jacob died, he was moved by the Spirit to prophesy about the future of his sons.

2. The twelve disciples Jesus chose mirror the twelve tribes of Israel—since He was the New Israel.

3. Thus, the names of the twelve tribes written over the twelve gates of the Holy City presupposes that even black people who make it to Heaven will have to enter through one of those gates. So the theological question remains: “Which gate fits the typology for Black People?”

4. The prophecy about Issachar demonstrates quite clearly that Blacks are numbered by God in the tribe of Issachar.

5. Jacob prophesied that Issachar will be forced into slavery by their brethren (the other 11 tribes), and will be forced to carry two heavy burdens while they engage in the agricultural work.

6. Those two burdens suggested by the Hebrew and its cognates are “high rents” and “taxes.”

7. But because he is burdened down with these encumbrances, and forced to labor in the fields, Issachar is too tired to fight and contents himself to “bow his shoulder to bear, and become a servant unto Tribute (task work)” because he saw that the rest was good.

B. Blacks in America

1. History records the “forced” enslavement of Blacks in the Americas.

2. Their white brothers forced them to do the agricultural work, but still burdened them with high rents and taxes or tributes in the sharecropping system after slavery was abolished.

3. Because the task work or gang labor was from before sun-up till after sun-down, Blacks were too tired to carry forward a successful resistance to that injustice, and contented themselves to bow down until God raised up a ‘Moses’ in Martin King.

4. But just like the prophecy on Issachar’s experience in Israel, so the historical record of Blacks mirror the Biblical typology.

II. Barak’s Victory-From Slaves to Soldiers (Judges 4: 3-5:15)

A. Winning the War

1. The next time the Bible mentions Issachar is when he moved from being a slave to becoming a soldier.

2. God’s people were fighting for their lives, and God moved upon Deborah, a prophetess and a judge (counselor) in Israel to go to Barak (same name) and encourage him to lead the fight to save the nation and the people.

3. Barak hesitated (Judges 4:8) but agreed to go if God’s prophetess would go with him to battle.

4. The bible says that Deborah arose and went with Barak (v.9) and that he called Zebulon and Naphtali, armed soldiers of war to go up with them. (I do not know if this reference is to Michele) but notice that Bible does not mention that Barak called out Issachar to fight. However, all through the wilderness wanderings Issachar is always encamped somewhere between Zebulon and Naphtali, with three tribes on each of the four-sided encampment.

5. Nevertheless, when the war is won, Judges 5:15 says that “the princes (leaders) of Issachar were with Deborah; even Issachar, and also Barak:”

6. The implication here must be that even though Issachar gets no credit or recognition as men of war, soldiers if you please, they are instrumental in the battle.

7. The proof of this is seen in the last clause of Judges 5:15, which says that “he (Issachar) was sent on foot into the valley.” The importance of this is only seen in American History and the bravery of men like the 54th Massachusetts (portrayed by Denzel Washington in the movie Glory, and Company E of the 4th U.S. Colored Infantry at Ft. Lincoln, District of Columbia).

B. Recognition & Medals

1. Just like in the Bible, Blacks who moved from being slaves to becoming soldiers fighting for America received no recognition for anything they did. In fact, President Bill Clinton was the first of the modern Presidents to award, posthumously, medals to seven of the Tuskegee Airmen who hundreds of thousands of lives. The last living one was from the State of Iowa.

2. The importance of Judges 5:15 is seen in how the black soldiers, who were former slaves, were sent over the mountain and into the valley in the dead of night to destroy the Confederate guns, which were massacring white Union soldiers trying to open the Road to Richmond, Virginia.

3. Some 536 or more of them were slaughtered by the big guns, but every time the standard-bearer fell another black picked it up and pressed forward with a rallying cry until, in the light of day, they stood atop the hill victorious and had opened the Road to Richmond. This was the Battle of Chafin’s Farm. But just like the Bible gives credit to only Zebulon and Naphtali for risking their lives in the fight (5:18), so in U. S. History, the textbooks are silent about the sacrifice and bravery of the former Black slaves turned soldiers. They got no recognition and no medals.

III. Political Savvy-Blacks in Politics (I Chron. 12:32)

A. The Nation Is Deeply Divided

1. Israel is deeply divided. David is King in Hebron ruling the two tribes that eventually become known as Judah (the Jews). The other ten tribes are resisting his rule, even though God swore that he was the chosen one.

2. We meet Issachar again, but this time he has moved from being a slave to being a soldier, and now is a politician with “understanding of the times.”

3. The bible says that “the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” were all under the command of their leaders, or princes, or brethren, which numbered 200.

4. The phrase understanding of the times in the Hebrew can only mean “political understanding.”

5. Israel was deeply divided, and Issachar sensed that the best political move was to unite the entire nation behind David with David as King since he was chosen by God.

6. There were those who resisted God’s choice, but Issachar, being the only ones with the political savvy and the knowledge that the present course was too dangerous for the nation, brought the food and drinks (I Chron. 12:40), convince Zebulon and Naphtali to help them, and united the others to join their cause.

7. Their solution to the problem was to make David King over all Israel (12:38) and they came together with one heart to do just that.

8. The typology here is too great and too serious to miss or to discard in a flippant manner; and while no-one can state with absolute assurance that the prophecy speaks as set out, one thing is certain. Issachar started out as a slave. He became a soldier. And the children of Issachar emerged as the only ones in Israel with “understanding of the times to know what Israel ought to do. (I Chron. 12:32)

B. Who Has the Political Answers

1. If the imagery of Genesis 49 is correct and the typology is sound, then that of Judges 5:15 must follow in the continuum.

2. And if Judges 5:15 points in typology to African American slaves who fought in America’s wars trying to get whites to change their image of Black people, then I Chronicles 12: 32-40 has greater significance for this time.

IV. Conclusion

Please draw your own conclusion after the facts are in, and while it may seem that the references to Deborah pre-shadowed Oprah, I can only say that in Judges 6:11, when Israel was again beset upon by the Midianites, the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon and sat under the “Oprah tree.”

2. Thus, does this mean that we have been languishing from King’s time, and that now our Barak is to be like Gideon?

3. Iowa will caucus and after New Hampshire, Blacks in South Carolina will get to reveal their political savvy. Will they demonstrate "Understanding of the Times?"

May God Defend the Right!

Anonymous said...

agile software development team | java software company | java web application | java software outsourcing | BlackBerry application development

Viagra Online said...

If you are gays and lesbians please ,
Tuck out The Closet, so I think that it is the most important thing if you want to be happy, your information is so interesting.!!

Buy Cialis said...

Excellent blog, I think you are doing an important contribution, specially if you're posting this kind of contents... I will be a member because I am a follower of Dr. Martin Luther King.

Invertir en oro said...

hello, i would like to read more information about this topic. Thanks for sharing.