Popular worship leader Eddie James who only months ago joined a diverse coalition of Christian leaders in offering up prayers for President Donald Trump at the White House, is now calling for a similar show of unity among black and white Christian leaders to reflect the unity among secular groups protesting the death of George Floyd.
“The blacks and the whites are coming together in riots and it’s starting to make me so frustrated because I’m saying, how is it that blacks and whites and other people can come together and riot, and everybody is talking about how bad the riots are, but I’ve yet to see black pastors and white pastors and Hispanic pastors hit the streets immediately worshiping. And more than that, preaching the Gospel to say, Jesus is the answer,” James said in a recent rant on Instagram.
“Why can the world come together so quickly and then we complain about the destruction? And I’m in no way thinking what they’re doing is right. I’m not endorsing burning buildings and all of that. But why is it that the world can come together and do what they’re doing and the church people complain about it, but the church is not doing its part?” he asked.
“We need black and white leadership to get in the streets. And again, the Gospel is the answer, the Gospel — not being Democrat, not being Republican. It’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” James insisted. “The only thing that can change the hearts of any people is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s why we need what He did on the cross. That’s why we need the blood. We need people to boldly get in the streets and preach the Gospel.”
Last December, James came under heavy criticism after joining several artists including Kari Jobe and her husband, Cody Carnes, at the White House to worship and pray with the president. James was criticized, along with other black Christian leaders who attended the event, by people such as TV host and pop culture commentator Jawn Murray, who implied in a post on Facebook that black leaders who posed for a photo with the president were poster children for self-hatred.
In his recent appeal to the Christian community, James said large Christian ministries that have the ability to organize events that attract thousands have failed in responding to the unrest unfolding in the nation’s streets.
“All of these mega ministries. All of these big TV evangelist ministries. All of these ministries of worship that can summon thousands of people to a stadium, why can’t we summon right now thousands of people to the streets of our nation and say we wanna release Jesus, love and unity? We need to do that. And I believe that would be the answer to all the rioting, all of the different stuff that’s going on,” James said.
“If all we do is get up and talk about how bad it is and get mad at bad tweets from the president, and get mad at them sending military people [National Guard] … that’s not gonna change anything. It’s gonna stoke the fires of anger, it’s gonna stoke the fire of being mad. … But what can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make us whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus,” the worship leader said.
“We need the blood. We need the cross. We need to do something besides tweeting and social media and let the government try to do something to fix the riots. What we need is a Holy Ghost revival and it doesn’t need to happen among the four walls of the church. We need people in the streets,” James added.
Since the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in the custody of Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day, protests have erupted nationwide and other countries.
A video of the encounter between Floyd and the officers shows former officer Derek Chauvin, 43, kneeling on Floyd’s neck as other officers held on to his back and feet while he was handcuffed.
Floyd had reportedly refused to get into the squad car, "stiffened up, fell to the ground, and told the officers he was claustrophobic."
As Chauvin continued to press his knee into Floyd's neck, Officer Thomas Lane asked whether they should roll Floyd on his side after he said he was struggling to breathe. The final time Lane asked that question Floyd was already unresponsive.
Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder on Wednesday while former officers J. Alexander Kueng, 26, Lane, 37, and Tou Thao, 34, were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for their role in Floyd’s death.
Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office ruled George Floyd's manner of death was a homicide and stated that he suffered "a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s)." The medical examiner's office listed "arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease," "fentanyl intoxication" and "recent methamphetamine use" as "other significant conditions."
At a memorial service in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Thursday, Al Sharpton said he is working with major civil rights organizations and faith leaders to protest in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28. The day marks the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington in 1963.
Over 200,000 demonstrators participated in the March on Washington for jobs and freedom in the nation’s capital. The march pressured the Kennedy administration to initiate another federal civil rights bill in Congress that would become the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. The March on Washington is where King delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
James, in his appeal earlier this week, called on white Christians and ministry leaders specifically to not feel like they have to understand the black American experience to show that they care about racial inequality to get involved.
“You don’t have to understand what it means to be black to love. You don’t have to understand what it means to be black and what it means to live in this nation in this condition for you to show that you are concerned,” he said.
“There’s a lot of white people who are looting or who are burning things, who are going off and they don’t understand what it means to be black but they care. They may show it the worldly way, they may show it in a wrong way, but what they’re trying to say is they’re tired of this happening. We’re tired of this continuing to go on,” he continued.
“They are at least trying to show that they care. You don’t have to try to know what it’s like to be me for you to love me. For you to care for me, for you to figure out what can I do to touch my people who are part of this nation who may not be the same skin tone that I am. We need you to get out there and do something.”
He further noted, “If we march in the heart of Martin Luther King Jr. and we pray and preach the Gospel, God’s Word says He will hear us. He will forgive us and he will heal our land.”