Wednesday, April 12, 2017


©Wendell Griffen, 2017
Justice Is a Verb!
April 12, 2017

Matthew 21:12-13
12 Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13He said to them, ‘It is written,
“My house shall be called a house of prayer”;
   but you are making it a den of robbers.’

          This is Holy Week. 

On yesterday, Sean Spicer, the press spokesperson for President Donald Trump of the United States, further exposed the already conclusive proof of the Trump administration’s moral and intellectual bankruptcy.  First, Spicer declared during his daily press briefing that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was morally worse than Adolf Hitler because “Hitler didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”  Moments later, Spicer compounded historical mis-statement when he said that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people.”

Anyone with a competent knowledge of history knows that both statements by Spicer were factually, and indisputably, untrue.  Adolf Hitler used gas to kill people during World War II.  Hundreds of thousands of the people Hitler gassed to death were Jews from Germany. 

Sean Spicer not only exposed his glaring historical incompetence.  He also provided further evidence to the world of the cultural incompetence within the Trump Administration.  Spicer’s false assertions were uttered days before the start of Passover. 

This happened during Holy Week. 

Voters in the Little Rock School District (LRSD) learned yesterday that election officials have canceled an early voting site for a controversial bond refinancing ballot measure set for election on May 9.  The LRSD has been under state control since January 28, 2015, when the Arkansas Board of Education dissolved the majority black school board. 

Opposition to the ballot measure to refinance a bond measure is strong.  That opposition is especially strong in areas of Little Rock where black and brown people live and are outraged about state ouster of the democratically-elected school board, a recently passed state law that allows charter schools to seize property and buildings of public schools in districts that have taken over, and refusal of state officials to indicate when LRSD voters will regain their democratic right to have the LRSD governed by a school board they elect.   

Black and brown children make up the majority of students attending public schools in Little Rock.   The polling places for early voting were announced a month ago, and the now-closed polling site was included in the official proclamation for the May 9 election.  The decision to cancel the early voting site located in the predominantly black and brown neighborhood leaves only one site for early voting.  It is located in the downtown Little Rock financial and governmental area, a site convenient for office workers (most of whom do not live in downtown Little Rock), and for predominantly white residents of downtown condominiums. 

In 2017, sixty years after the Little Rock Central High School desegregation crisis, the state takeover of the LRSD and the shenanigans surrounding the upcoming May bond refinancing ballot measure show that claims by white state and local officials about their professed commitment to democracy, equality, and inclusion, are a sham. 

What does the account in the Gospel of Matthew about Jesus turning over tables and chasing currency exchange operators from their positions of privilege and profit in Herod’s Temple mean for us as we witness public instances of hypocrisy about justice such as Sean Spicer’s factual and cultural incompetence and the shameful tyranny by state and local officials in Arkansas? 

When will we condemn Sean Spicer for uttering outright lies about history?

When will we condemn the blatant voter suppression efforts surrounding the LRSD bond refinancing ballot measure?

When will people, in the name of truth and justice, behave like Jesus did when he publicly denounced profiteers and political operatives who ran their oppressive enterprises from Herod’s Temple? 

When will we rise up in rightful indignation at the profiteers and political operatives responsible for oppression among us?  When will we turn over their tables?  When will we chase them from the places where they lie, cheat, scheme, and execute plans to steal justice, pervert truth, and conceal their treachery?

Have we lost our ability to express outrage about hypocrisy concerning justice?What good is served in us by the lessons of Holy Week and Passover if we can’t – or won’t – do what Jesus did to people responsible for oppression and injustice in our time and place?     

It is time to overturn tables and chase greedy profiteers and their political operatives from our temples of government.  They will not leave on their own.  Their tables must be turned over.  Their profiteering and tyrannical schemes must be blocked.  They must be turned out of their positions.

If we don’t realize this truth during the week of Passover, Good Friday, and Easter, when will we learn it?


  1. Excellent! So proud of your passion to create justice.