Wednesday, January 16, 2019


I am, like many others, vexed about the partial shutdown of the federal government.  The following essay that is published by Baptist News Global is an attempt to express my perspective.  I invite you to ponder and share it with others.

Trump’s shutdown: a malicious spectacle of moral, political and humanitarian failure

The federal shutdown that politicians and political pundits speculated about more than a month ago is our present reality. Minutes of shutdown turned into hours. Hours of shutdown turned into days. Days of shutdown turned into weeks. Unless things change, weeks of shutdown will turn into months until 2019 will be remembered as the year of the shutdown.
The workers and families affected by the shutdown are terrified hostages. They are terrified about not having income for basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, childcare and transportation. They are terrified about being helpless. They are not terrified because the United States has been attacked by a foreign adversary. Their dreadful and senseless suffering is caused by a domestic actor.
President Donald Trump intentionally laid siege to parts of the federal government because of his delusion that a wall along the southern border of the United States will stop desperate immigrants from seeking asylum in this society from the violence of war, cruelty and hopelessness in their homelands. Federal workers and their families, along with many others whose work is related to government contracts, are suffering because Trump decided to shutter federal agencies rather than endorse bipartisan legislative solutions for funding and reopening the government while leaving deliberations on his wall to another day.
The rest of us know that our American neighbors are suffering. We know that public safety is threatened. And we know the shutdown is a massive and creeping spectacle of moral, political and humanitarian failure perpetuated by a homegrown threat to our neighbors and national security.
“The shutdown is a massive and creeping spectacle of moral, political and humanitarian failure.”
The shutdown is the longest in U.S. history, but timing, not duration, is the most profound feature that makes it historic. As Bill Leonard observed in a recent commentary for Baptist News Global, the first ship delivered African slaves to this country in August of 1619 – 400 years ago this year. Trump’s counselors and cheerleaders appear unable or unwilling to recognize that defrauding workers in 2019 is the latest instance of the slavery, wage theft and other abuse of workers that American society has excused, rationalized and even legalized for the past four centuries. The delusion created by free market fundamentalism, racism, white supremacy, white religious nationalism and xenophobia was the seminal, immoral force that led to the birth of the United States. That seminal force eventually produced the Civil War, the deadliest armed conflict in U.S. history, when more than 600,000 lives were lost.
No foreign power threatens the 800,000 workers furloughed or forced to work without pay because of Trump’s demand for a monument to his racism and xenophobia. Our neighbors are not threatened by a hurricane, earthquake, drought or other natural calamity. Instead, the fate and futures of our neighbors, the security of our nation and the legitimacy of our claim to be a force for morality in the world has been taken hostage by an autocratic president (cheered and enabled by political and religious sycophants) who has demonstrated a lifelong penchant for immorality and inhumanity.
Trump’s weaponized shutdown is its own form of domestic terrorism. The shutdown has besieged the lives, fortunes and hopes of people in our country the same way an armed terrorist would control the lives, fortunes and hopes of hostages.
“Trump’s weaponized shutdown is its own form of domestic terrorism.”
It is tempting to believe that time will tell how and when politicians in the U.S. Senate show they love God and their neighbors enough to condemn the federal shutdown and its unnecessary pain as a malicious stunt by a narcissistic maniac, demand that Trump abandon his border wall delusion, and end the terror our neighbors suffer from the shutdown. But we should resist the temptation to believe “time will tell.”
In his prophetic Letter from Birmingham City Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. declared that this temptation stems from “the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills…. [H]uman progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability…[but] comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of [people] willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation” (emphasis mine).
As Baptist theologian Molly T. Marshall has noted, prophetic people – not time – will determine when and how the federal shutdown ends with its malicious spectacle of massive and creeping moral, political and humanitarian impotence. God and our suffering neighbors are not watching clocks and calendars. God and our suffering neighbors are watching, waiting and yearning for determined and courageous people of prophetic character.
Are they watching and waiting for us?

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


Last week Baptist News Global published an essay I wrote.  I hope you'll take a few minutes to read and ponder it.  Here's a link to it in case you'd like to share it with others.

White Baptists and racial reconciliation: there’s a difference between lament and repentance

Last month Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), the oldest and most prestigious theological institution affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention – the largest Baptist body in the United States – issued a document titled “Report on Slavery and Racism in the History of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.” The 71-page report is a concise history written by current and former SBTS faculty members about how racism, slavery and other aspects of racial injustice were accepted, practiced, excused, championed and otherwise tolerated from the seminary’s founding in 1859 through the civil rights era of the mid-1960s.
Reactions have been mixed, as one might expect. A sense of the varied responses to the report is apparent from news accounts such as “Slavery and racism reports stirs media flurry” (Baptist Press), “Report laments history of slavery and racism at SBC seminary” (Baptist News Global) and “Southern Baptist seminary confronts history of slaveholding and deep racism” (NPR). BNG also published an opinion article by university professor Susan Shaw, “The irony of a Southern Baptist seminary’s report on slavery and racism,” and a related commentary by Bill Leonard, “American racism, 1619-2019: exorcism of this demon is needed – now.”
My immediate reaction after reading the report was that SBTS appears more interested in – and hopes to be commended for – detailing its sinfulness about racial justice than repenting from it. Like others, I noticed how the report conveniently and inexcusably fails to include the last half century of racism practiced by school’s faculty, trustees and other stakeholders. Surely the distinguished authors of the report could have included details of that injustice if they intended to produce an honest and complete history.
“The report conveniently and inexcusably fails to include the last half century of racism practiced by school’s faculty, trustees and other stakeholders.”
However, doing so would have required them to speak truth to and about people who have wielded power at and over SBTS during its more recent past, and currently.  Whatever the authors of the report and current SBTS President Albert Mohler may think otherwise, some people (myself included) know the difference between a full confession and an announcement that deliberately omits mention of the most recent instances of racism, white supremacy and white religious nationalism practiced and perpetrated at and by SBTS.
Furthermore, not a sentence can be found by Mohler (who commissioned the report and wrote its introduction) or anyone else among the seminary’s power structure indicating that SBTS is committed to doing anything to repair the harms of white supremacy and racism. Surely, leaders of the oldest and most prestigious of the Southern Baptist seminaries know that repentance involves much more than mere remorse (lament).
Remorsefulness alone is a far cry from repairing damage done by conduct that harms others. We should hope SBTS faculty make that clear to students studying the doctrine of salvation (soteriology) and the doctrine of sin (harmartiology). Regardless whether that happens, the rest of us know the big difference between remorse (regret about sinfulness) and repentance (changing from sinful ways and thinking to righteous ways and thinking). Remorsefulness, however sincerely and openly expressed, does not require a commitment to change. That is why the refusal of the report’s authors to include the last half century of the seminary’s endorsement of racism, white supremacy and white religious nationalism should not be ignored or excused.
We should also not ignore or excuse the seminary’s refusal to commit to engage in reparations and restitution for more than 150 years of systemic racial injustice practiced, preached and taught under the guise of preparing people for careers in pastoral ministry, religious education, missions and theological study as followers of Jesus. A robber who will not at least promise to make reparations does not deserve credit for publishing an announcement about having engaged in a career of robbery.
Rather than commend Mohler and the authors of the study, we should remind them what John the Baptist said about the need to “bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8). An incomplete report that expressed remorse about systemic racism, white supremacy and white religious nationalism at SBTS is not good fruit “worthy of repentance.” Neither is the refusal to attempt to quantify and repair harm done through racial injustice over the course of the school’s history.
What then should SBTS do? If we can trust what John the Baptist said to the crowds he addressed, the answer involves at least two obligations.
First, the seminary must change from being self-righteous and self-serving about its wealth and prestige. That would be consistent with what John the Baptist said about whoever had two coats being obligated to share with anyone who had none, and that whoever had food being obligated to share with anyone who had none (Luke 3:11).
“Surely, leaders of the oldest and most prestigious of the Southern Baptist seminaries know that repentance involves much more than mere remorse (lament).”
Repentance will require the seminary’s leaders and other stakeholders to do much more than admit a history of racism, white supremacy and white religious nationalism. SBTS must – in obedience to what John the Baptist said as well as the example of the tax collector from Jericho named Zachaeus who Jesus confronted (Luke 19:5-9) – pledge to give up the ill-gotten wealth it gained and now enjoys in part because of that wicked history. It is telling that Mohler hasn’t shown any sign that he even considered doing that, let alone that he urged the seminary’s trustees to do it.
Second, SBTS must start using its power to produce justice, rather than using it to maintain longstanding systems of injustice. John the Baptist told soldiers and tax collectors to stop using official authority for personal benefit. For SBTS, that should involve rejecting the slaveholder theology and hermeneutic and heresies of white supremacy, white religious nationalism, materialism, patriarchy, sexism (including homophobia and misogyny), imperialism, militarism, techno-centrism and xenophobia.
Imagine what the Holy Spirit might accomplish if instead this prominent seminary spent the next 150 years intentionally preparing people for ministry careers based on the gospel of liberation and justice!
None of this can be done in the echo chamber of the SBC. After all, the seminary’s racism, white supremacy and white religious nationalism are part of the original sin of the SBC, and have always been endorsed and extolled (directly or indirectly) by SBC congregations, pastors, mission workers and religious educators (at SBTS and the other SBC-affiliated seminaries). SBTS needs to hear from and be led by followers of Jesus who are not SBC-affiliated, not white supremacists, not patriarchal and not religious nationalists.
I suggest that Mohler and other SBC leaders seek help and guidance from a number of respected and reputable sources. One starting point could be Vanderbilt University Divinity School, including Dean Emile Towne, the Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative, and Forrest Harris, director of the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on the African American Church at the divinity school and president of American Baptist College in Nashville. Even closer to home, Mohler might drive a few miles across Louisville to seek prophetic insight and guidance about reparations and restitution from Kevin Cosby, a black SBTS alumnus and president of Simmons College, whose ministry is a shining example of what the Holy Spirit will accomplish when followers of Jesus reject slaveholder theology, hermeneutic and ethics.
“SBTS must start using its power to produce justice, rather than using it to maintain longstanding systems of injustice.”
Alert readers will notice that I have not mentioned reconciliation. That is an intentional omission. White religionists and others seem blind to the truth that reconciliation is impossible without repentance, and that repentance is impossible concerning racial injustice (including racism, slavery, white supremacy and white religious nationalism) without reparations and restitution. Until Mohler, SBTS, the SBC and other white Baptists “bear fruits worthy of repentance,” their appeals for racial reconciliation are “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1), and worth “nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2-3).
So, despite the publicity surrounding Southern Seminary’s recent report, the words of a Stevie Wonder song seem to apply:  “You haven’t done ‘nothin.’”
The authors of the report, Mohler and other SBC leaders need to know why followers of Jesus who reject slaveholder theology, hermeneutic and ethics are not impressed. And they need to be reminded to “bear fruits worthy of repentance.” I don’t expect they will respond favorably to that input. As my father often said, “that would be too much like right.”

Sunday, December 30, 2018


©Wendell Griffen, 2018
Justice Is a Verb!
December 30, 2018

In my December 26, 2018 post I declared that the House Judiciary Committee should hold an impeachment hearing concerning whether President Donald Trump has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.  I write now to respond to concerns about that position. 

President Trump’s supporters do not believe impeachment proceedings are warranted.  They object to his impeachment the same way they condemn and denounce the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concerning whether Mr. Trump and his associates engaged in criminal activity related to the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s supporters also condemn and denounce the lawsuits filed against him in federal court.  Those lawsuits allege that he is violating the ban on emoluments expressed at Article I, Section 9.8 to the federal Constitution which declares that “…no person holding any office or profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”  [Mr. Trump owns a hotel near the White House that is regularly patronized by foreign governments and others who seek favorable treatment from his administration.]

Others who either disagree with President Trump’s policies or who may be offended by his personal and business conduct hold serious reservations about whether impeachment is politically expedient.  Those persons doubt that the Republican majority in the Senate would vote to convict Mr. Trump even if the House of Representatives votes in favor of articles of impeachment recommended by the House Judiciary Committee.  Among other things, they are concerned that Trump would use the impeachment controversy and spectacle to stoke support for his re-election campaign in 2020. 

Another concern is that if Trump is impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, Vice President Pence would become President, and then pardon Trump the way President Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon after Nixon’s resignation in the face of impeachment proceedings surrounding his efforts to obstruct investigation of the Watergate scandal.  These observers prefer that Trump and Pence be voted out of office in 2020 rather than risk a Pence presidency.

Here’s my rejoinder to these and other objections to impeaching President Trump:  appendectomy. 

When the human appendix is infected with bacteria and inflamed, doctors know that an emergency exists that requires surgical removal of the infected appendix.  It is medical malpractice for a doctor to examine a patient, confirm that the patient has appendicitis (inflammation of the appendix), and release the patient with a prescription to relieve pain associated with appendicitis. 

Appendectomy, a common emergency surgery, is the long-recognized and accepted way to treat appendicitis. Patients recover from that routine surgical procedure and go on to live well for a simple reason.  The human body does not need an appendix to function normally or well. 

More to the point, the human body is threatened by an infected appendix.  A pus-filled appendix will rupture if it is not surgically removed.  The ruptured appendix then discharges bacteria into the abdominal cavity which requires emergency appendectomy followed by aggressive treatment with antibiotics to save the patient’s life.  In some cases, a ruptured appendix can lead to death. 

Donald Trump’s presidency is the political equivalent of appendicitis for the United States.  However much his supporters and detractors dislike it, Trump’s impeachment is the political equivalent of an appendectomy for the nation because Trump’s political incompetence and personal corruption has infected the presidency with pus-filled policies and practices that threaten domestic, national, and global well-being.   

The nation does not need sedatives from politicians and pundits, be they Trump supporters or Trump opponents.  We need surgery.  The infected appendix called the Trump presidency must be surgically removed before it ruptures and threatens our survival. 

We should stop hoping that heaven will deliver us from Trump’s poisonous presidency and personality.  In the Biblical account of the Exodus, God told Moses to use the staff in his hand when Moses complained that Egyptian chariots threatened his people as they stood on the shore of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15-16).  Impeachment is the tool in our hand.  It won’t work unless we use it. 

That is why the House Judiciary Committee should schedule and conduct public hearings on impeachment.  If hearings demonstrate that President Trump has committed treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, the Judiciary Committee should issue Articles of Impeachment.  If a majority of the House votes to approve Articles of Impeachment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell must convene the Senate as jurors.  Chief Justice John Roberts must preside over Trump’s trial.  If two-thirds of the Senators vote for conviction, Chief Justice Roberts must declare President Trump ousted from office.  That process requires human competence and courage, not divine intervention. 

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate must, like emergency room physicians, think about what is best for the patient.  Donald Trump is not the patient.  Partisan political loyalists are not the patient.  The 2020 election outcome is not the patient.  The patient is the democratic republic known as the United States of America. 

That patient is threatened by the pus-filled appendix known as Donald Trump’s presidency.  The nation can survive without that appendix if the House and Senate will act the way responsible doctors routinely act. 

We can’t survive if the medical team won’t use competent and courageous judgment and do their job. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


©Wendell Griffen
Justice Is A Verb!
December 26, 2018

During the first month of Donald Trump’s presidency I penned and posted an essay to this blog titled Explaining Donald Trump in One Word.  The word I used and defined in that essay was “psychopath.”  Here is a link to that essay:

Almost two years later, President Trump has demonstrated to people in the United States and throughout the world that he is mentally, socially, politically, and behaviorally unstable.  Granted, Trump’s fanatic followers (his “base”) of white religious nationalists, white supremacists, free market capitalists, and personal and political sycophants consider Trump a fit leader.  The rest of us recognize that Trump is corrupt to the core. 

President Trump is a classic example of “a loose cannon.”  He is a “loose cannon” about truth.  He is a “loose cannon” about ethics.  “He is a “loose cannon” when dealing with US politicians (including those from his own political party), US allies and competitors, his White House staff, and members of his personal inner circle.  It is well past time for the rest of us to treat him accordingly.

The first thing smart people do when confronted with a “loose cannon” is to stop and secure it.  “Loose cannon” people must be stopped and secured to prevent them from doing more harm.  By now the world knows that Trump’s family, staff, and political colleagues have either failed to stop and secure him or don’t want to do so. 

We cannot expect help from Vice-President Mike Pence, the heads of departments in the federal government, and leaders of the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.  Only federal judges have honored their duties to uphold the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution.  Vice President Pence, executive department leaders, and Republicans in the Congress have not done so. 

No one seriously thinks that Pence and the Cabinet heads have enough sense, let alone honor, to certify Trump constitutionally disabled according to the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Only in a fantasy world would Ben Carson (Secretary of Housing and Urban Development), Mike Pompeo (Secretary of State), Matthew Whittaker (Acting Attorney General), and Patrick Shanahan (the in-coming Acting Secretary of Defense) possess that much honor and patriotism.

Because executive branch leaders are not honorable and patriotic enough to certify President Trump disabled, the House of Representatives must do its constitutional duty and conduct hearings on impeachment.  Yes, I used that word.  The word “impeachment” exists because from the beginning the founders of this nation realized that some people are morally and socially unfit to hold public office. 

Donald Trump is such a prime example of such moral and social unfitness that calling him a “loose cannon” may be too kind.  There is reason to suspect that Trump more closely resembles cancer, something much more dangerous. 

So because Pence and the Cabinet officers won’t declare Trump disabled, the House Judiciary Committee should begin the urgent work of holding public impeachment hearings after the new Congress assumes office on January 3, 2019 to determine whether there is evidence that Donald Trump has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.”  Yes, impeachment hearings will involve painful work.  Yes, Nancy Pelosi (the presumptive Speaker of the House of Representatives during the coming session of Congress), would prefer that the House not address impeachment proceedings among its many other difficult challenges. 

Experienced leaders know that duty, honor, and loyalty to principles of truth and fairness override concerns about personal or political inconvenience and allegiance.  Outgoing Defense Secretary James Mattis demonstrated that when he resigned his post and stated his reasons for doing so in his letter of resignation.  Speaker Pelosi, Representative Jerrold Nadler (the presumptive incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee), other members of the Judiciary Committee, and the rest of the House of Representatives (including Republican Members of Congress), should follow the example set by Secretary Mattis.    

Impeachment proceedings will not prevent House Members from considering and passing legislation on immigration, voting rights, and to repair the highways, bridges, tunnels, and other aspects of the nation’s infrastructure.  Impeachment proceedings should not prevent the House of Representatives from considering, debating, and passing legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from political meddling by President Trump and his lackeys in the Department of Justice.   By appointing Matthew Whittaker Acting Attorney General, publicly suggesting that he might pardon Paul Manafort for the crimes Manafort has pled guilty to committing, and by his obvious attempts to intimidate Michael Cohen and cajole Roger Stone, President Trump has shown that he will sink to any depth and employ any tactic to interfere with, obstruct, and derail the Mueller investigation. 

If the House Judiciary Committee votes to issue Articles of Impeachment, and if that vote is upheld by a simple majority of the House members, then the issue becomes whether Senator Mitch McConnell (the Senate Majority Leader), Senator Lindsey Graham (the presumptive incoming chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee), and other Republican members of the U.S. Senate have honor enough, loyalty enough, and patriotism enough to follow the U.S. Constitution.  Unfortunately, that is an open question. 

The bottom line is that Donald Trump must either be declared disabled by Vice President Pence and leaders of the U.S. Cabinet (under the Twenty Fifth Amendment) or impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate of committing high crimes and misdemeanors (according to Article II, Section 4) in the U.S. Constitution.  Procrastinating or denying that painful truth won’t make dealing with it less unpleasant. 

We, along with the rest of the world, know that President Trump is politically incompetent and psychologically, pathologically, and socially dangerous. It doesn’t matter whether one terms Trump a “loose cannon,” likens him to cancer, or thinks he is like a drunk driver.  Loose cannons, cancers, and drunk drivers are mortal dangers that demand prompt and decisive action.  The sooner we begin taking it the sooner we will put Donald Trump’s psychopathic presidency out of our national and geo-political misery. 

The Founders of U.S. democracy and the drafters of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution foresaw that the nation might someday be forced to deal with a psychopathic or sociopathic president.  We will find out in the coming weeks and months whether current U.S. leaders have enough honor, loyalty, and patriotism to follow the course of action and procedures that the Founders painstakingly established. 

Saturday, December 1, 2018


On January 28, 2015, the democratically-elected and majority black board of directors for the Little Rock School District (LRSD) was dissolved by the Arkansas Board of Education (ArBOE).  At the time, the LRSD was the largest public school district in Arkansas.  Since then, the LRSD has experienced declining enrollment, closure of schools in neighborhoods south of Interstate 630, and other problems. 

In connection with the fourth anniversary of the dissolution of the LRSD school board on January 28, 2019, in recognition that 2019 will be the 100th anniversary of the September 1919 Elaine Race Massacre and Land Theft, and because 2019 will be the 400th anniversary of the delivery of African slaves at Jamestown, Virginia, New Millennium Church, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, and the Vanderbilt Divinity School Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative will co-sponsor a Public Forum on Re-Segregation, Privatization, and De-Funding of Public Education at New Millennium Church (21 Lakeshore Drive, Little Rock, Arkansas) on January 24, 25, and 26, 2019.    During the Forum, local and community public education advocates, activists, policy makers, and influence leaders will join respected scholars of history, sociology, ethics (moral theology), and psychology to address current and past realities surrounding segregation, privatization, and efforts to de-fund public education to the detriment of children and families in the LRSD.  Because New Millennium Church is a social justice ministry in keeping with the liberating gospel of Jesus, NMC is pleased to host and co-sponsor the Forum.  

I’m posting this message to inform you about the Forum, ask that you support the Forum with your prayers, presence, and contributions, and invite others to attend Forum sessions. 

The Forum will feature keynote presentations by the following distinguished persons:

  • Iva Carruthers, Ph.D., General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference
  • Teresa Smallwood, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Divinity School Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative
  • Terrence Roberts, Ph.D., Principal, Terrence Roberts Consulting
  • Nancy MacLean, Ph.D., William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy, Duke University

The objectives of the Public Forum on Re-Segregation, Privatization, and De-Funding of Public Education are:

  1. Provide informed non-partisan analysis about the political, commercial, social, and moral issues surrounding the history and current realities of segregation in public education and their impact on children and families in the Little Rock School District.
  2. Present perspectives of parents, guardians, patrons, educators, civic and faith leaders, and public education advocates and activists concerning the history,  status, and future of public education in the Little Rock School District.
  3. Inform the public how capitalism influences public education policy and administration, and the effect of that influence on children and families in the Little Rock School District.

Here is the Schedule of Events (all at New Millennium Church):

  • January 24 (Thursday), 2019, 6-8 p.m. – Re-Segregation and Transgenerational Trauma  - Dr. Iva Carruthers (keynote presenter) and Dr. Teresa Smallwood (facilitator)
  • January 25 (Friday), 2019, 6-8 p.m. – Re-Segregation, Privatization, De-Funding and the Color of Law – Dr. Terrence Roberts (keynote presenter) and Rev. Wendell Griffen (facilitator)
  • January 26 (Saturday), 2019, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Re-Segregation, Privatization, and De-Funding of Public Education:  The Threat to Democracy – Dr. Nancy MacLean (keynote presenter) and local public education advocates Dr. James Ross, Dr. Anika Whitfield, Pastor Toney Orr, and Senator Joyce Elliott (panelists)

On Sunday, January 27, 2019, Dean Emilie Townes of Vanderbilt Divinity School will deliver a sermon at New Millennium Church during worship at 9 a.m., and will engage in an informal “town hall” conversation after the service.  The service and “town hall” conversation, while not part of the Forum, will be open to Forum attendees and the general public.   Dean Townes will also be the featured guest of the Barbershop Radio Program at 9 a.m. on Saturday, January 26, 2019, on community radio station KABF, 88.3 FM which airs each Saturday from 9-10 a.m. over the Internet at, sponsored by New Millennium Church.  

A registration fee of $50 per person will cover all Forum sessions.  Online registration at will commence December 12, 2018, and continue thru January 16, 2019. 

The Forum is made possible through generous support from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, the Vanderbilt Divinity School Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative, and New Millennium Church.  Persons interested in also supporting the Forum may send contributions to New Millennium Church online at, or by mail to New Millennium Church, 21 Lakeshore Drive, Little Rock, AR 72204 (designate “Forum on Re-Segregation” on the memo of the check). 

I invite you to be part of what will be a historic, enlightening, and prophetic conversation.  Monitor the websites of New Millennium Church (, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference (, the Vanderbilt Divinity School Public Theology and Racial Justice Collaborative (, and community radio station KABF FM 88.3 – “The Voice of the People” – ( for coming information.  Questions concerning the Forum may be submitted to

Grace and Peace,

Wendell Griffen
Author, The Fierce Urgency of Prophetic Hope (Judson Press, 2017)
Pastor, New Millennium Church
21 Lakeshore Drive
Little Rock, AR 72204
(501) 416-1917 mobile

Hope fiercely! Love boldly!

We will either find a way or make one.  Hannibal of Carthage

Love one another.  Jesus of Galilee

Monday, November 5, 2018


©Wendell Griffen, 2018
Justice Is A Verb!
November 5, 2018

On November 8, 2016, 81 percent of white evangelical voters in the United States supported Donald Trump despite evidence of his personal and commercial racism, misogyny, fear and hatred of immigrants, and deceitfulness.  Their votes did not show that they see God in our neighbors who are immigrants, sick, and otherwise vulnerable. 

Since then, white clergy who say they are evangelical followers of Jesus have grinned, applauded, and lavished praise on President Donald Trump despite daily proof of his dishonest, boorish, racist, sexist, and xenophobic character and conduct.  White clergy who claim to being followers of the Palestinian Jewish fellow named Jesus – whose parents were forced to seek asylum with him in Egypt during his early childhood – have been silent as Mr. Trump has ordered military forces to prevent unarmed immigrants from Central America from seeking asylum in the United States.  White clergy were silent after President Trump referred to immigrants from Haiti and nations on the continent of Africa as being from “shithole” countries. 

Most white clergy were silent when President Trump urged Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act that guarantees access to affordable healthcare.  If many white pastors reminded their congregants that Jesus spent most of his ministry healing people who were sick and poor and did so without charging anything – let alone requiring a co-pay – I suspect that would have been newsworthy.  I don’t recall seeing news reports that white clergy in Arkansas, or elsewhere for that matter, suggested that efforts to dismantle a system of affordable health care don’t square with the gospel accounts of the healing ministry of Jesus.    

After white supremacists, white nationalists, and neo-Nazi sympathizers attacked peaceful protestors in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, President Trump said that there were “fine people on both sides.”  What do you recall white evangelical clergy saying in response?  If you attend a predominantly white evangelical church, what did you do about that response, or failure to respond? 

Evidence has been mounting over the past two years about efforts to intimidate, suppress, discourage, and disenfranchise people of color from voting.  Native American, Latino, and black voters have been deliberately targeted for gerrymandering, closure of polling places, and misinformation about voting requirements.  How have white clergy and congregations responded? 

I join those who are encouraging young voters, people from lower income households, women, and people of color to vote.  I hope young voters, people from lower income households, women, people of color, persons who are LGBTQ, senior citizens, and other people who are marginalized turn out and vote in record numbers. 

At the same time, I’m watching to see if white people who attend evangelical churches across the nation will vote the way they did in 2016.  I’m watching for signs that white people who call themselves evangelical followers of Jesus will turn away from the hateful, fear-mongering, bellicose, power-driven dishonesty of President Trump and his political cronies. I’m watching for signs of repentance from white evangelical voters.  

The proof of white evangelical repentance will not consist of people of color being invited to kum-ba-yah gatherings with white evangelicals to hold hands, sing “We Shall Overcome,” and exchange pleasantries during religious dinner parties.  The proof of white evangelical repentance will not consist of black and Latino preachers and congregations being invited to sing, pray, and preach with white evangelicals. 

I join others who question whether white evangelicals are followers of Jesus at all.  They often seem to confuse the gospel of Jesus with white supremacy and notions of U.S. empire.  White religious nationalism is heresy to the gospel of Jesus, not faithfulness to it. 

So tomorrow night, I’ll watch election returns to see whether white people who call themselves evangelical followers of Jesus will, again, prove that they prize white supremacy above the inclusive and liberating gospel of divine grace, truth, justice, and peace.  I’ll look for evidence that white people who claim to be followers of the Palestinian Jewish itinerant prophet and healer named Jesus are turning away from white religious nationalism.  I’ll be watching and hoping for signs of white evangelical repentance.  I don’t expect that election results tomorrow will support my hope. 

Yet, I hope for justice no matter how white evangelicals vote tomorrow.  White evangelicals have a long history of misrepresenting God and supporting injustice.   God has a longer history of proving them wrong.  

I hope for justice because I trust God, not white evangelicals.