Radical preachers belong on Broadway

Bob Weir
When I think about this guy, Jeremiah Wright, and the so-called sermons he has preached, I wonder why anyone would refer to him as "Reverend." The dictionary defines reverence as honor or respect felt or shown, especially profound adoring and awed respect.

When we watch those video clips of Wright calling for America to be damned and his claims that the AIDS virus was invented by whites to kill blacks, why would we consider him to be anything more than a madman? He apparently has advanced degrees, but where is the reverence?

Growing up in New York City, I spent more time than most people walking along the "Great White Way," (a reference to the many lights, not to skin color). Whenever I made the short trip uptown to Broadway, I would be greeted by all manner of street hawkers. From jewelry peddlers to gambling hustlers and other assorted con men, the street was alive with the type of excitement that could only be offered in such concentration in that mile-long, glittering boulevard inside the Big Apple.  

Another frequent addition to the animated landscape was the rabble-rousing soapbox orator, belching out a fiery tirade of disgust for every conceivable social ill one can imagine. Because of the sheer volume of humanity passing by every minute of the day, these street corner messiahs had a continuous audience for their spiels. And, depending on the eloquence of their oratory or the inflammatory method of their delivery, they would, occasionally, draw a sizable crowd.

Human beings, by nature, are curious creatures, which explains why the traffic backs up on a roadway, even though the accident up ahead is on the opposite side of the median. Hence, when a guy stands up on a two-foot platform and begins screeching against the government's "failure to tell the truth about UFOs that have visited this planet," he will get some people to stop and listen, even if just for a minute.   Just down the street from him you might find another guy on a small stage proclaiming in stentorian tones that the CIA and the Mafia collaborated in the assassination of JFK.

If you continued walking for another block or so, you might run into a guy dressed in African garb, standing on a wooden structure and cursing the government for its history of oppression toward minorities. If you stopped for a moment you'd very likely hear some caustic remarks about white people that might include terms like "blue-eyed devils" and "Honkies." If there were any non-blacks in the assembled group, they wouldn't stay very long after seeing some of the hate-filled looks they were getting.

It was all part of the American experience in which people had the freedom to express themselves without being clobbered to the ground and dragged away to a prison cell.   However, these people were not called "Reverends" or "Pastors" because those titles were reserved for those who could be rational when quoting the Scriptures or decrying the emphasis on sex in every product being turned out by Hollywood hedonists.

When we think of preachers, we think of positive reinforcement about our values and our love for our neighbors. We don't associate Reverends with hate speech or radical conspiracy theories because those messages can lead to violence and death. It's one thing to tolerate some lunatic with a penchant for street corner theatrics, but it's quite another to allow that person to engage in rhapsodic hysteria inside the hallowed chamber of a church.  

Perhaps the problem is that it‘s too easy to become a Reverend. I've often written about the "Reverend" Jesse Jackson, one of the worst race-baiting hustlers on the American scene. Mr. Jackson became an expert at using racial extortion to squeeze money out of corporations in return for not smearing them as anti-black. As soon as the ransom was paid to one of his many non-profit, tax-evading entities, the threat went away.

Al Sharpton is another example of ecclesiastical chicanery. Anyone who is aware of his part in the Tawana Brawley "rape" case knows he's not fit to be called "Reverend."   But snake oil salesmen are not exclusive to blacks; some Catholic priests have brought shame to their religion by using their respected positions to exercise their pedophilic urges. Bob Jones University, that South Carolina bastion of Christianity, bans interracial dating on "Scriptural" grounds. I suppose their interpretation of the Scriptures also told them not to admit blacks into their college until 1971.

The New Testament tells us: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Yeah, these Reverend titles are handed out too freely and conspiracy theorists should confine their limited engagements to old Broadway.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas.  Email Bob.
When I think about this guy, Jeremiah Wright, and the so-called sermons he has preached, I wonder why anyone would refer to him as "Reverend." The dictionary defines reverence as honor or respect felt or shown, especially profound adoring and awed respect.

When we watch those video clips of Wright calling for America to be damned and his claims that the AIDS virus was invented by whites to kill blacks, why would we consider him to be anything more than a madman? He apparently has advanced degrees, but where is the reverence?

Growing up in New York City, I spent more time than most people walking along the "Great White Way," (a reference to the many lights, not to skin color). Whenever I made the short trip uptown to Broadway, I would be greeted by all manner of street hawkers. From jewelry peddlers to gambling hustlers and other assorted con men, the street was alive with the type of excitement that could only be offered in such concentration in that mile-long, glittering boulevard inside the Big Apple.  

Another frequent addition to the animated landscape was the rabble-rousing soapbox orator, belching out a fiery tirade of disgust for every conceivable social ill one can imagine. Because of the sheer volume of humanity passing by every minute of the day, these street corner messiahs had a continuous audience for their spiels. And, depending on the eloquence of their oratory or the inflammatory method of their delivery, they would, occasionally, draw a sizable crowd.

Human beings, by nature, are curious creatures, which explains why the traffic backs up on a roadway, even though the accident up ahead is on the opposite side of the median. Hence, when a guy stands up on a two-foot platform and begins screeching against the government's "failure to tell the truth about UFOs that have visited this planet," he will get some people to stop and listen, even if just for a minute.   Just down the street from him you might find another guy on a small stage proclaiming in stentorian tones that the CIA and the Mafia collaborated in the assassination of JFK.

If you continued walking for another block or so, you might run into a guy dressed in African garb, standing on a wooden structure and cursing the government for its history of oppression toward minorities. If you stopped for a moment you'd very likely hear some caustic remarks about white people that might include terms like "blue-eyed devils" and "Honkies." If there were any non-blacks in the assembled group, they wouldn't stay very long after seeing some of the hate-filled looks they were getting.

It was all part of the American experience in which people had the freedom to express themselves without being clobbered to the ground and dragged away to a prison cell.   However, these people were not called "Reverends" or "Pastors" because those titles were reserved for those who could be rational when quoting the Scriptures or decrying the emphasis on sex in every product being turned out by Hollywood hedonists.

When we think of preachers, we think of positive reinforcement about our values and our love for our neighbors. We don't associate Reverends with hate speech or radical conspiracy theories because those messages can lead to violence and death. It's one thing to tolerate some lunatic with a penchant for street corner theatrics, but it's quite another to allow that person to engage in rhapsodic hysteria inside the hallowed chamber of a church.  

Perhaps the problem is that it‘s too easy to become a Reverend. I've often written about the "Reverend" Jesse Jackson, one of the worst race-baiting hustlers on the American scene. Mr. Jackson became an expert at using racial extortion to squeeze money out of corporations in return for not smearing them as anti-black. As soon as the ransom was paid to one of his many non-profit, tax-evading entities, the threat went away.

Al Sharpton is another example of ecclesiastical chicanery. Anyone who is aware of his part in the Tawana Brawley "rape" case knows he's not fit to be called "Reverend."   But snake oil salesmen are not exclusive to blacks; some Catholic priests have brought shame to their religion by using their respected positions to exercise their pedophilic urges. Bob Jones University, that South Carolina bastion of Christianity, bans interracial dating on "Scriptural" grounds. I suppose their interpretation of the Scriptures also told them not to admit blacks into their college until 1971.

The New Testament tells us: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." Yeah, these Reverend titles are handed out too freely and conspiracy theorists should confine their limited engagements to old Broadway.

Bob Weir is a former detective sergeant in the New York City Police Department. He is the executive editor of The News Connection in Highland Village, Texas.  Email Bob.