WASHINGTON — A group of black pastors asserted Wednesday that in order to change the impoverished, crime-stricken cultures in America's inner cities, more emphasis needs to be placed on responsibility, education and entrepreneurship instead of blaming the police for problems facing troubled African-Americans.
Bishop E.W. Jackson from The Called Church in Chesapeake, Virginia, and other black ministers from the organization STAND (Staying True to America's National Destiny) gathered at the National Press Club to announce the launch of Project Awakening, a private-sector, church-centered, comprehensive plan for the recovery of America's inner cities that focuses on teaching children they have options and responsibilities in life.
While the pastors detailed how the project aims to build relationships between churches, police, the black community and businesses to create cultural renewal, entrepreneurial awakening, and technical education for inner city children, the ministers did not refrain from chastising the Black Lives Matter movement for propagating a "demonic" message that does not offer a solution but simply puts police officers in harm's way.
With many in the Black Lives Matter movement quick to silence anyone who dares say that "all lives matter," Jackson, who is the founder and national president of STAND, explained at the press conference that such rhetoric only makes racial matters worse in America.
"Let me speak with this admonition. I don't know everything they are saying, I know what I heard. With that proviso, what I have heard has not been good. What I have heard, to me, is divisive and demonic," Jackson stated. "We as Christians know that God created all of us, all of our lives matter, including the lives of unborn babies, they matter too. When you have people saying, 'you can't say all lives matter, we are not going to hear that,' that tells me there is something very, very wrong there."
Leon Threatt, senior pastor at CFA Ministries in Charlotte, North Carolina, and STAND's national vice president, seconded Jackson's disapproval of the Black Lives Matters message.
"I think perhaps their intent may be wanting to have a positive change, but I think the methodology is dividing the community," Threatt told The Christian Post after the press conference. "When we say 'black lives matter,' we may be over emphasizing the importance of one over the other, and it's my experience that our strength comes from our ability to work together."
Threatt, who is a former police officer and has a son who is a cop, said he has been troubled by the call from some Black Lives Matter protestors to kill the "pigs."
"I think when we divide community of color against law enforcement, we are weakening our ability. I think they need to check their message and their method. We need to work together," Threatt asserted. "I think the problems in the inner city is far beyond black, it requires the oneness of all the people: black and white."
"Certainly, this pitting against law enforcement I am tremendously concerned about that. And we have witnessed that, and I find it quite disturbing that they would use language that would sanction and authorize the killing of law enforcement personnel. This is tragic and shameful that they would use such language," Threatt continued. "I witnessed on a news clip not long ago where they were having a Black Lives Matter march and chanting 'Death to the pigs!' This kind of language is destructive and unacceptable."
Threatt added that he believes the Obama administration has only "helped" further the divide America's communities.
"I think the [Obama administration] has been part of the problem. I think that they have helped create the division in our cities and in our communities at large. So, I have been very disappointed in this administration's unwillingness to help foster the oneness in the community," Threatt said. "The police officers and the citizens are in it together; and I think our leadership from Washington needs to be communicating that message instead of voicing some kind of twisted view that police officers are out to try to kill citizens of color. That is not the case at all."
While much of the media has focused on the tension between black communities and the officers that police them, Jackson stated that the real problem with the inner cities is the breakdown of the family and the ignorance of social responsibility.
"We are tired of hearing the police blamed as if all the problems of the inner city are the result of police misconduct. We know that is not true, yet that gets all the attention," Jackson said. "We are tired of hearing that everything is a problem of race. We know that gets all the attention. Yet, these children who are growing up without fathers have nothing to do with racism and has everything to do with responsibility."
While many claim that African-Americans in inner cities are plagued by lack of opportunity, Jackson explained there are three indicators that will all but guarantee that children in inner cities today will not be living in poverty when they grow older.
"We know that if people wait until marriage to have children, if they get an education and they actually go to work, even if they start with medial work, we know that if they do those three things, they will not be in poverty," Jackson contended. "We are asking for people to support us in creating an opportunity for them to get out of that environment into a clean healthy environment where they are taught not only the academic disciplines that they need to know, but where they are taught a new sense of what it means to be a human being, a new sense of character."
"Telling young ladies that your body is sacred and you shouldn't be having sex with any guy that comes along and tells you he cares about you, and telling young men they shouldn't be having sex with young ladies and fathering children that you can't then take care of. You ought to be waiting until you get married to have children," Jackson continued.
As Project Awakening is still in its infancy, Jackson explained that churches in at least 20 states are beginning to embrace the proposal.
"We got representation in 20 states and we got leaders in 10, and those leaders are building on the ground," Jackson explained. "If you include all the churches that are involved and all the members who are involved in those churches who are sort of joining in with Ministers Taking a Stand, it would number in the thousands. Our goal is to have representation from every state in the country."