Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, has taken to national television to promote his new book, Let It Go, and to express his views regarding the Trayvon Martin case, which has attracted worldwide attention since details of the Florida teen's shooting death were made public. The minister, whose book deals with forgiveness, says, in light of such cases, "Forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator."
In Let It Go: Forgive So You Can Be Forgiven, The Potter's House senior pastor speaks on the importance of forgiveness in living a full, happy life. Naturally, correspondents questioned Jakes about the topic of forgiveness in direct reference to the Trayvon Martin shooting, which has upset many Americans, including his parents, who are demanding justice.
Martin, 17, was walking home the night of Feb. 26 in a Sanford, Fla., gated residential community when he got into a violent confrontation with neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, 28. Zimmerman, who is Hispanic and white, shot and killed the African-American teen in what he says was self-defense, because Martin allegedly attacked him. However, the incident has given rise to a heated national discussion on racial profiling and has put Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows for use of deadly force as self-defense, under the microscope.
It was revealed days after the shooting was made public reportedly from unnamed police sources that Martin had been suspended from school allegedly for marijuana, graffiti, and suspicion of burglary. Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, accused police and the media of trying to smear her son's reputation, deeming him a "hoodlum" who was guilty of suspicious behavior in order to boost the reputation of Zimmerman.
"They've killed my son, and now they're trying to kill his reputation," Fulton said March 26, as reported by the New York Daily News.
When Jakes appeared on MSN's "Jansing & Co." show to discuss Let It Go, host Chris Jansing asked Jakes if he agreed with Fulton's statement, or if he believes that there has been a rush to judgment.
"I think we're really trying to gather all the facts. I think it's prudent upon us that we do that. Had we not applied the pressure that we did, I'm not sure that those facts would have come out as succinctly as they are coming out now," Jakes told Jansing.
"Every parent has teenagers who go through adolescence but you don't want your children to be profiled. And we want to make sure that is not the case, I'm not saying that it is but we need to make sure that that is not the case and that justice is not misappropriated," Jakes added.
The Texas minister went on to say that he feels the Trayvon Martin case goes far beyond an African-American issue, as others, such as Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, have claimed that the handling of the teen's case is an example of the disregard for the lives of black males in America. Rather, Jakes insisted, the case addresses the issue of safety for everyone's children, no matter their skin color.
At the same time, the Let It Go author shared that he felt a double standard might have been applied in the case and questioned, as others have done, why Zimmerman has not been arrested for the fatal shooting.
"I think that if the shoe were on the other foot. Had it been Trayvon who had killed some other child in some other situation then he would have been arrested," Jakes argued.
Similarly, on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Jakes connected the topic of forgiveness to Martin's case.
O'Brien asked Jakes, "Are there slights that are too big to be forgiven? How do Trayvon Martin's parents ever say we can forgive anything?"
Jakes argued that the importance of forgiveness does not lie so much in the perpetrator, but in oneself, for one's own personal healing.
"Forgiveness does not exonerate the perpetrator," he told O'Brien.
"Forgiveness says I'm not going to allow myself, 10 years from now, to still be sitting on the side of the bed seething in anger at the individual. That I have to find a way to move forward, and that I unhitch myself from this incident and move on with my life," he added.
Jakes' book, Let It Go, was published in February. The megachurch pastor has a lenghty list of media appearances in the upcoming months, including an interview on Oprah Winfrey's special, "Oprah's Next Chapter," as well as Winfrey's "Lifeclass" on the OWN network in April.