Current Events

Pop-Up Sermon: Don’t Exploit the Orlando Pulse Nightclub Tragedy

Pulse Nightclub Victims

(Photo Credit: New York Daily News)

The proper response from the Church is to show the Orlando Pulse Nightclub victims, their families, friends and associates love as they confront tragedy. Yes, it’s always the right time to offer salvation but never the right time to spew condemnation, shame, guilt, and hate (all forms of venom). When one condemns another, he or she condemns himself or herself: “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:1). This isn’t the time for you to advance your anti-LGBTQ agendas; it’s the time for you to demonstrate to members of the LGBTQ community and those affected by the Orlando mass shooting how much God loves them.

We will never be effective in winning souls for Christ by coming from a place of hate, emerging from a toxic spirit of self-righteousness. As a minister of the Gospel of Grace, I have a righteous indignation toward those members of the clergy and professing Christians whom pervert the Gospel with their prejudices and hateful and violent rhetoric, making the propagating of the Gospel troubling and ineffective for many.

I have heard a preacher attempt to camouflage his attack on the LGBTQ people involved in the Orlando massacre. He posited that they were responsible for their own deaths because of how they were living and what they were doing. Hmm…was he in this nightclub too? How does he know what they were doing? Was he in the bedroom with these folks also? Hmm… To be fair (insert sarcasm), he did add, “We are to show them love.” Sorry, sir, those folks didn’t walk into that gay nightclub to be killed. How ignorant of you! For the record, on the night of the heinous mass shooting, heterosexual people were in attendance also.

Did those Christians at the Mother Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina go to Bible Study to be murdered by Dylann Roof? Exactly. No. Victims in both tragedies went to enjoy life, the pursuit of happiness.

Pastor Bobby Wright of The Back to the Bible Holiness Church (sorry, the name of this church makes me chuckle for several reasons—but, I digress) in Buford, Georgia posted a sign outside of his church, stating, “God created man and woman. Satan made gays & transgender.” First, this epitomizes postmodern cooning. Umm…I thought Scripture teaches that God created everyone and everything (Genesis Chapter 1; Colossians 1:16-20). The blind leading the blind. Smh. Although people have already spray-painted the sign, it wouldn’t surprise me to see folks burn down the sign and the church. I, of course, don’t support such criminal acts. We must, however, understand how mean-spirited expressions can incite undesirable responses.

Regardless of a person’s race, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation, Jesus has called us to love him or her: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). Do what pleases God: love people! Get your theology right; get your call right; get your witness right; get your message right. Love everyone. True love, God’s love, does no harm.

Again, don’t let your personal agendas cause you to be a useless witness for and follower of Christ. Love is what brings people to Jesus—not hate, condemnation, self-righteousness, shame, guilt, and sin-imputing: “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

Let love and peace abound all over the world!

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Advertisements

Jamal Bryant’s Hypocrisy and Intolerance

Dr. Jamal Bryant

(Photo Credit: News One)

Pastor Jamal Bryant recently referred to a group of black pastors who met with Donald Trump as “prostitutes” and “pawns.” Jamal Bryant, Pastor of Empowerment Temple A.M.E. Church in Baltimore, Maryland, opposes Donald Trump for his inflammatory rhetoric and discriminatory positions, especially toward minorities. He ironically employs the same type of rhetoric and takes the same type of positions on black pastors who decide to meet with Trump. When did sitting down and engaging in civil discourse with someone make one become naïve, a pawn, prostitute, and coon? While I adamantly oppose Donald Trump, I refuse to characterize black people and pastors who meet with him using the aforementioned labels. The time has come to expose Pastor Jamal Bryant for his hypocrisy and intolerance.

One of Bryant’s chief objections to Trump is his supposed discriminatory viewpoints. If Pastor Bryant is truly a champion for racial and social justice, why hasn’t he ever protested the history of discrimination inside of his own fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., a historically black fraternity. Numerous past and present cases across the nation exist of his fraternity discriminating against applicants for membership. Pastor Bryant overlooks his fraternity brothers’ biases, but finds Trump’s alleged discriminatory words to be unbearable. This, sir, is a shameful double standard.   

Blinded by his self-righteousness, Bryant fails to see the irony in calling black pastors “prostitutes” for meeting with Trump when he slept with a prostitute while married, which led to a divorce and his daughter being brutally teased. A prostitute, sir, is who you had sex with, causing your marriage to end and resulted in your ministry being tarnished; a prostitute isn’t a pastor simply meeting with Mr. Trump. Mr. Bryant wants people to be tolerant of his past errors but isn’t tolerant enough to allow pastors to meet with Trump without harshly condemning them. Yes, continue to critique Mr. Trump and expose his foolishness but don’t demonize those who choose to have discussions with him and those who endorse him or who will inevitably endorse him.

In a televised church service about two weeks before Labor Day 2015 at Empowerment Temple A.M.E. Church, Pastor Bryant told the congregation and the television audience that if they would “just give God a shout He’s going to pay all of your past due bills by Labor Day weekend.” Sir, all of my past due bills are still past due. Mr. Bryant, are you going to pay my past due bills? I guess you desire me to tolerate your false prophecy, huh? Unfortunately, you’re unwilling to tolerate black pastors meeting with Trump, so people are going to experience trouble overlooking your phony prophecy.

While you find Mr. Trump’s rhetoric to be unacceptable, you seem to think calling women “hoes” is acceptable. Hypocrisy! You also think it’s okay to call men in church who don’t meet your deficient standards of masculinity and righteousness “sanctified sissies.” Before you try to castigate Mr. Trump about his troubling language, you’ve got to deal with your own. You’ve offended all women by addressing them as “hoes,” and you’ve offended all gay men by referring to them as “sissies.” At some point, Pastor Bryant, you have to realize you have zero credibility when it comes to policing people’s words. Why do you want everyone to be tolerant except you? Some assert that I’m using his past to discredit his fundamental arguments against these black pastors who met with Trump. Mr. Bryant made his past relevant when he attacked their integrity by labeling them “prostitutes” and “pawns.” It’s, therefore, fair to examine Bryant’s integrity by assessing his record, a record that’s quite disconcerting. Save your crying about folks using his past against him for Oprah.

On yesterday, Mr. Bryant communicated the following message through a Facebook status: “Sometimes maturity is not what you say BUT…what you ignore[.]” Seriously, are you going to lecture people about maturity? With all of the immature things you have said and continue to say and do, you’re certainly the wrong person to lecture folks about maturity. Maturity would have told you not to describe pastors simply meeting with Donald Trump as “prostitutes” and “pawns.” Since you had sex with a prostitute, does that make you a pimp?

Pastor Bryant, have several seats.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Prayers for President Jimmy Carter

English: US President Jimmy Carter

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Dear President Jimmy Carter:

Although I don’t agree with you on most political issues, we share strong affinities on faith, family and altruism. Your greatest impact on humanity has come after serving as President of the United States of America. The invaluable work you’ve done to promote peace, human rights, democracy, fair elections, healthcare and much more for people across the globe will forever be appreciated.  President Carter, you’re truly a great man. The significant difference you’ve made in the lives of countless individuals across the world is honored by God. God is now using you as an example for the world to see how to fight cancer with faith, grace, and trust in Jesus Christ.  You’re showing the world that a cancer diagnosis is not a reason to lose all hope.

While most folks in your situation would become despondent, cry profusely, and talk persistently about dying, you’ve made a commitment to smiling, sharing your underrated humor and continuing to focus on the impressive philanthropic work you’ve been engaged in for a long time with the Carter Center.

Christians are to serve as examples for the world about how to respond to illness and disease.  The way in which you have responded to cancer is a shining example of how the bible teaches us to respond. When we place our life in the hands of God, He takes care of us, and we have to remind people that death does not have the final word. Because of what Jesus accomplished for us on Calvary’s Cross, death no longer has any power.

President Carter, I want you to stay encouraged and continue to live an inspiring life. People across the world are praying for you to be healed and delivered from this cancer that has come from the pit of Hell. You’re a man of God and Satan’s diseases have no right and authority to dwell in your body. As a person of great faith, I speak healing and deliverance to your body right now.  I apply and appropriate the Blood of Jesus Christ on you right now. By faith, according to Mark 11:23-24, you’re already healed and made whole!

Keep placing all of your trust in God.

Sincerely,

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson: Drawing the Line between Courts and Commissioners

English: Baltimore Ravens Training Camp August...

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

As professional sports leagues and the athletes they employ garner a higher public profile, there have been increasing demands, from media, lawmakers and the public that they be held to a higher standard of conduct.  Athletes have come under greater scrutiny, both on and off the playing surface, with each instance of misbehavior sparking a greater outcry than the last.  However, is there a public good served by publicly vilifying athletes for off-the-field or off-the-court indiscretions?

Moreover, do professional sports leagues, like the NFL, have the competence or right to impose punishment on players in response to public outcry, either before the player has had his day in a court of law, or after the courts have decided not to pursue criminal charges?

Two recent cases of note involve former Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Ray Rice and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Rice was arrested earlier this year for allegedly punching his then fiancee unconscious at an Atlantic City casino.  A New Jersey grand jury indicted Rice on a charge of aggravated assault, which carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.  The charge was later dropped when Rice agreed to enter court-supervised counseling, and he eventually married his fiancée, the alleged victim in the case.  Despite the decision of the courts, the media outcry continued, and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell responded by levying a two-game suspension against Rice, just days before a TMZ video of the assault was made public.

Furthermore, as the betting would suggest, the video stoked further outrage, putting Goodell in the uncomfortable position of exacting harsh punishment on a player for non-football related offenses that a court of law deemed not severe enough to bring to trial.  Goodell dropped the hammer on Rice, suspending him indefinitely, while the Ravens terminated his contract, likely ending his NFL career.

In Peterson’s case, the 2012 NFL MVP was recently suspended by the Vikings following his indictment by a Texas grand jury on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child.  Peterson did not deny the allegations, explaining that he applied the same method of discipline on his son that had been applied to him as a boy. While it is understandable that the public is shocked by such actions, demands for the NFL to act where the courts have not place a burden on the NFL that it is simply not capable of carrying.  The NFL is a private enterprise that exists for the primary and legitimate purpose of making money.  It lacks the experience, competence, and mandate to exact justice fairly and in accordance with the law.

While fists have been shaken at the NFL’s perceived bumbling of the Rice case, a surprising modicum of outrage has been directed towards the New Jersey court that chose to drop the charges against Rice.

Adrian Peterson has received little to no benefit of doubt prior to getting his day in court.

NFL players have been arrested at a rate of approximately one per week in 2014, and we’ve witnessed no shortage of high-profile college football players who have faced charges that were conveniently made to disappear.  It’s a worrisome trend for every member of society, whether he or she is a football fan or not. However, such offenses are best addressed in court—where the accused player both answers to the law and is protected by it.  If the courts don’t punish a player for alleged offenses, the commissioner of the NFL cannot do it for them, no matter how vociferous the howls of media outrage become.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Make Racism a Bankrupting Phenomenon: The Donald Sterling Case

Donald Sterling

(Photo Credit: Salon)

The odious, hurtful and racist comments uttered by Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, warranted the immediate action taken by the National Basketball Association (NBA).  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Donald Sterling for life from the NBA. He cannot have any association with the Los Angeles Clippers and the NBA, and he’s not allowed to attend any NBA games.  Silver gave Sterling the highest fine possible, and Silver has vowed to do all that he can do to have Sterling voted out as owner of the Clippers.  The Clippers’ players have cleverly protested the hateful remarks of their racist owner, and several businesses and sponsors have withdrawn their associations with Sterling and the Clippers.  NBA fans and the American people in general have expressed their great outrage in response to the racist comments made by Sterling.  The collective response to the Sterling case offers a promising window of opportunity to move us closer to making those who choose to be racists suffer tremendous economic losses, bankrupting them if possible.

Donald Sterling is a horrible human being, and the things he said evince that he has a slave master mentality.  If Black people and other minorities are going to weaken the power of racism, then they must use a case like the Donald Sterling case in subversive ways to launch potent attacks on the enduring post-slavery racism and remaining vestiges of Jim Crow that are deep and powerful parts of the American political, economic and social system.  Without the collective outrage of minorities and Whites conveyed throughout the country in response to Sterling, the likelihood of Commissioner Silver rendering the decision he did yesterday would have been slim to none.  Although many people want to characterize the vociferous groundswell of national opposition to Sterling as insufficient, and many have harshly criticized the Clippers’ players for not doing enough to protest Sterling’s racism, these critics fail to see the strong utopian energies at work in the collective response to Sterling.  Before Mr. Silver’s decision, the collective response to Sterling was primarily communicated through words only.  The verbal outrage divulged by numerous Americans across the nation and NBA players, including the Clippers’ players, served robust and important functions: it made racism even less desirable and it placed intense pressure on Mr. Silver to reach the type of decision he did.

This collective outrage primarily communicated through words must transition to a collective language of resistance that then materializes into impactful collective action.

Those who highly oppose racism need to use Donald Sterling as a symbol of fear for current racists and those who will choose to be racists in the future about what can happen to them.  Although Donald Sterling will remain an incredibly rich man even if the NBA’s Board of Governors votes to force him to sell the Clippers, a resounding message will be disseminated to other racists: you may pay a prohibitive political, social and economic price for your racism that could inevitably lead you to being bankrupt.

NBA fans and the American people in general must place significant pressure on the NBA’s Board of Governors to mandate that Sterling sell the Clippers.  There must be a willingness by NBA fans to boycott NBA games, team and league sponsors and businesses that support the league and its teams if the Board of Governors does not vote out Sterling.  This message must be communicated to the Board of Governors in various ways, including through social media, television, radio, newspapers, letters, protest rallies across the nation, and etc.  The Clippers’ players need to involve themselves actively in influencing the decision of the Board of Governors.  Players from all other NBA teams and from across all teams in other sports need to demand that the Board of Governors vote out Sterling.  The members of the Board of Governors love money and NBA fans, as consumers, have to use their money as a weapon against the members of the Board of Governors and their strategic interests.

Again, Sterling will be a very rich man no matter what the members of the Board of Governors decide, considering he made a highly lucrative and clever investment in the Clippers and made many auspicious investments in the real estate industry.  The Board of Governors can, however, discontinue his ability to increase his wealth through his ownership of the Clippers and greatly diminish his power and prestige in the real estate industry and other industries he may attempt to pursue. He will no longer be able to increase his wealth from the labor of Black male bodies in the NBA.  Sterling’s personal use of plantation ideology in the NBA will be extinguished.

When we are able to expose other racists in the same or similar ways as Sterling was, we should make every effort to cause them to face bankruptcy.  If you want to cause a serious decrease in the power and prevalence of racism in America, then you must significantly reduce the economic and social incentives of it.

Let’s not become so consumed in discourses specifically about Donald Sterling and the venom he spewed out of his corroded mouth; let’s use his case to inaugurate a new movement against racism.

Bankrupting racists must become a grand political strategy employed by individuals of all political persuasions and ideologies.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madision