- (Photo: Reuters/Andrew Innerarity)
A Birmingham, Ala., pastor outraged over the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict expressed his anger publicly by posting his opinion on a church sign.
On one side of the sign at New Era Baptist Church, led by Pastor Michael R. Jordan, it reads, "George Zimmerman jury supported white racism." On the other side, he posted a reference to the 1983 Baby Doe's rape case in Birmingham: "Rape a white woman and you will die in prison," according to Birmingham News reporter Greg Garrison, who first reported on the sign.
"They're calling me a hate-monger," Jordan told Fox News. "Most whites down South don't like it."
Jordan told Fox he made the decision to post the statements on the sign after calling Zimmerman a "racist" and the jury's decision a "racist verdict" while preaching during a Sunday night service at his church.
"I believe racism and bias and prejudice caused the jury to be sympathetic," he told Fox News. "Race played a major, major role in their decision and in their thinking."
Zimmerman, who is half Hispanic and half Caucasian, was acquitted by a Florida jury on Saturday in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teen. Shortly after the verdict, which was announced around 10 p.m. ET, civil rights leaders and critics, including many pastors primarily in the African-American community, expressed dismay at the verdict.
"With the evidence, there's no way they could say it was anything but racism by George Zimmerman," said Jordan, whose 100-member congregation was also stunned by the verdict.
Megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House in Dallas was admittedly shocked by the not guilty verdict given Saturday evening in the Zimmerman case, and broke away from his normal message during the majority of the worship service on Sunday to discuss the case from the church's stage.
However, although much of the discussion from the church stage was about how a culture's or race's history gives individuals certain unique perspectives, Jakes said he wanted to divert the public attention away from a focus on the case being a "race issue."
"It would be disingenuous of me to not tell you quite honestly and quite succinctly that I was stunned, shocked, [and] speechless about the outcome of this trial," Jakes told his congregation and a webcast audience. "I think it is an oversimplification of the truth to say this is totally about racism," he said. "I think that all people should be concerned. All people of all colors should be concerned."
Jordan, who is black, wanted to make it clear that his opinion is that the murder of Martin involved racism.
"George Zimmerman deputized himself as a law enforcement agent," Jordan told Fox. "I feel he was a racist. He was stereotyping. He stalked and killed Trayvon Martin."
He also said there was a problem of not addressing race issues within the white community of pastors.
"There's been a breakdown in the white clergy," he said. "They refuse to preach against blatant racism in America."
Jordan makes the observation that the lives of black Americans have been devalued, according to Fox.
"We can send Michael Vick to prison for killing dogs, but we can't send George Zimmerman to prison for murdering an African-American young man," he said.
Although he says he has received many complaints about the sign's message, he told Fox he refuses to take it down.
"They tell me I'm spreading hate," he said, "but the sign is staying up."