A controversial sign has gone up at the New Era Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
On one side, it says...
"Black folks need to stay out of white churches."
On the other, it says...
"White folks refused to be our neighbors."
The pastor of the church, Michael Jordan, took to Facebook to defend his decision to post the controversial message.
The video can be seen here...
His reason for posting the sign centered on a white majority mega-church, the Church of the Highlands, deciding to open a satellite congregation in his mostly black neighborhood. The pastor argued that white people have wanted nothing to do with black churches, citing 'white flight' from inner cities, and that while the Church of the Highlands is arguing that they want to bring their church into a black neighborhood to fight crime, the pastor believes that they're doing it to encourage their black congregants to self-segregate. So he wants the mega-church to stay out of the neighborhood. Whether or not this is accurate, the very fact that this church believes that their presence will 'fight crime' is, of course, condescending.
On this point, Pastor Jordan stated...
"If you don't want to live next door to us, you can't fight crime in a city where you don't live."
The mayor of Birmingham, Randall Woodfin, condemned the sign on Twitter...
There is a spirit of racism and division that is over this city. It must be brought down. We have to change the conversation to what we need it to evolve into. “Darkness can not drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.” pic.twitter.com/QuNGjqYrjS— Randall Woodfin (@WoodfinForBham) May 15, 2018
This, of course, sparked a major debate. Some sided with the pastor...
Sign is out of context if you are not aware of what has been going on. It's a deeper message here but everyone wants to call the man evil instead of doing some research.— Jim Sunshine (@bamaboybornbred) May 15, 2018
Still bigger issue with the mayor's comments. Why couldn't the church partner with a black church and help them out? It was insulting to suggest they need the great white church to come save the black folks.— Jim Sunshine (@bamaboybornbred) May 16, 2018
Where in the world did anyone mention a white church coming to save a black church?— Scott G. (@0320scott) May 16, 2018
A new church is being built. That’s it. Whoever shows up will make up the congregation. Also, you do realize that the mayor quoted MLK in the original tweet. Great quote and great advice.
Perspective...it's easy to speak from the outside if you never have been on the inside. Some people will never understand.— Jim Sunshine (@bamaboybornbred) May 16, 2018
Others praised the mayor...
Way to go mayor! We saw this last night at the beach and was completely disheartened. I lived for a 1 year in a house behind McDonalds in Woodlawn mentoring kids at the high school. Godly love is color blind and I’m so glad youre using your platform to speak truth! Thank U!— Jason Brazil (@jbrazil_16) May 15, 2018
Thank you 🙏 Mayor Woodfin for your courage in standing up for Birmingham. We need to move forward & remember the past - but do not live there! ❤️— Lee Randall (@ladyjane63) May 15, 2018
Amen Amen Mayor Woodfin— Allison Page (@AllisonPage6) May 16, 2018
Some people just know abt hate because that all that been taught by there folks
But many were quick to point out that while it's easy to be reductive, there's a deeper context of a brutal and violent racist history in this country that led to this sign...
I wish I could agree with you on this one, Mr. Mayor. We have to fix us before we have any conversation with them. They have made up their minds about us. I understand and respect your position as a leader here but I agree with that pastor.— Трахать тебя козырем (@RogueLoner) May 16, 2018
So nobody is going to mention the truth that was definitely told on the opposite side of the sign.— Zeke Boudreaux (@ZekeBoudreaux) May 16, 2018
I se nothing wrong with it. Division has always been here. He was speaking truth.— SunshineMe (@LadyCie) May 15, 2018