Friendship Baptist Church

Amid furor over Trump tweets, NPR visits two very different Friendship Baptist Churches in Virginia

Amid furor over Trump tweets, NPR visits two very different Friendship Baptist Churches in Virginia

NPR’s Sarah McCammon visited two Friendship Baptist Churches for a report that aired this week.

I loved the idea behind her story on congregations in the same state with the same name but different perspectives on President Donald Trump. And I mostly loved the implementation.

But before we delve into her feature, let’s start with the online headline: I’m not 100 percent sold on it.

Here it is:

In Virginia, 2 Churches Feel The Aftermath of Trump’s Racist Rhetoric

My problem with the headline is this: It labels Trump’s rhetoric — as a fact — as “racist.” I’m an old-school- enough journalist that I’d prefer the news organization simply report what Trump has said and let listeners/readers characterize it as racist. Or not.

I know I’m probably in the minority on this — evidence of that fact can be found here, here, here and here.

But back to the story itself: It opens this way:

A welcome sign on the way into town reads "Historic Appomattox: Where Our Nation Reunited." But here in Appomattox, where the Civil War ended more than 150 years ago, there are still reminders of division.

Not far away, a sign posted in front of Friendship Baptist Church reads "AMERICA: LOVE IT OR LEAVE IT."

Pastor Earnie Lucas said he posted that message on his church sign several weeks ago. It was around the same time that President Trump tweeted an attack on four Democratic members of Congress — all women of color — saying they should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came."

Lucas, 85, is white and has been a pastor in this community for decades. He defends his sign and expresses anger about the response it has received online and in news reports.

"Don't talk to me about that flag out yonder, or that sign out yonder!" he thundered from the pulpit. "This is America! And I love America!"

Lucas asks if anyone in the small, all-white congregation is "from Yankee land." No one raises their hand

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Songs? Prayers? Scriptures? Moving story on funeral for 15-year-old shot by police lacks religious details

Songs? Prayers? Scriptures? Moving story on funeral for 15-year-old shot by police lacks religious details

Once again, a police shooting of a young black male is making national headlines.

If you haven't followed the story of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards' death in a Dallas suburb, the Los Angeles Times had an insightful overview Sunday. However, the Times piece isn't the one I want to critique. There's really not a strong religion angle there.

Rather, I want to analyze the Dallas Morning News' front-page story Sunday on the teen's funeral and highlight what I believe is missing from a GetReligion perspective.

But before I get to that, the Times' story provides some important context: 

Jordan Edwards’ “ginormous” smile, they said, could light up a room — even one as large as Friendship Baptist Church in Mesquite, where a community gathered to mourn a life just beginning to blossom.

The car drove away from the high school house party, down a street in a Dallas suburb dotted with single-level brick homes, when the police officer raised his rifle and fired.

A bullet tore through the front passenger window, killing an unarmed 15-year-old: Jordan Edwards.
As the death reignited a national conversation about race and the police, it’s also elevated what’s viewed as a well-understood fact in many African American communities: When you’re black — even if you’re a child — you can be viewed as a threat to police.
“These are trained professionals, who are supposed to make rational decisions, but they’re not,” said Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney and former president of the National Bar Assn., a network of black lawyers and judges. “And yet again our children — I repeat, children — are paying the ultimate price.”
Crump spoke Saturday, the day a funeral was held for Jordan, a freshman who played on the Mesquite High School football team. A white hearse carried his body from a Baptist church to the cemetery, and teammates attended the burial wearing their white-and-maroon jerseys.

Now, back to the Dallas newspaper's funeral coverage, which opens like this:

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