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NAJEE’S NOTES: Conflict between black legislators and Faithful Central Bible Church

It seems that certain members of the California Legislative Black Caucus are not too pleased with Bishop Kenneth Ulmer and members of the Faithful Central Bible Church. The controversy is over Senate Bill 1146, which is currently being voted on in Sacramento.

SB 1146, introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), seeks to eliminate the current religious exemption in California that fully protects the freedom of California’s faith-based colleges and universities to operate in ways that are consistent with their religious missions and faith tenets.

The provisions of the proposed bill represent a dramatic narrowing of religious freedom in California. It would mean faith-based institutions would no longer be able to determine for themselves the scope of their religious convictions as applied in student conduct policies, housing and restroom/locker facilities, and other matters of religious expression and practical campus life.

Though the free exercise of religion is guaranteed by both the U.S. and California Constitutions, SB 1146 would make religious institutions like Faithful Central Bible Church vulnerable to anti-discrimination lawsuits and unprecedented government policing.

SB 1146 is a very controversial bill for some in the religious community, but what has been just as controversial was the response by some members of Faithful Central Bible Church, who spent a day trying to convince some members of the California Legislative Black Caucus not to support the bill.

Needless to say things, didn’t go so well. In fact, it was a complete disaster for Faithful Central Bible Church. It was so bad that Assemblywoman Autumn Burke released the following statement.

“Dear Bishop Ulmer,

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.’ Matthew 5:11

“In the legislature, contention over issues is expected but I am especially disturbed by the recent actions of opponents to Senate Bill 1146. SB 1146 simply calls for more transparency to ensure LGBT students are protected from discrimination in private and religious institutions of higher learning.

“My integrity and that of my colleagues has been called into question for supporting SB 1146. But what integrity is there in promoting segregation and hostility towards the LGBT community?  Evident in the recent attacks on the LGBT community in Orlando and threats here in California, such hostility contributes to a culture of hate that takes lives. As a black woman and mother, I simply refuse to stand idly by while hate and segregation are encouraged.

“Several members of the Faithful Central Bible Church stopped by my office recently to express their concern with SB 1146 and instead of being respectful, they decided to personally attack and question the faith of one of my staffers simply because he is gay. The same group then went to the office of Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer and started another confrontation by exclaiming, ‘I don’t want my sons and daughters to be taught to be homosexual.’

“The chief of staff to Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer subsequently left a voicemail to Pastor Marc Little where he expressed his outrage over the antagonizing manner in which his staff was addressed. I do not agree with the language used, but I do agree with the sentiment that Pastor Marc Little’s delegation message is devoid of historical context, respect and compassion.

“In the 1960s, opponents [of the civil rights movement] used the same argument — that laws intended to protect a certain class were an overreach — in a failed attempt to deny access to voting, housing and fair employment. During this time, the church community played an integral role in guaranteeing civil rights by serving as a source of unity and empathy.

“There is no justifiable exception for [not] extending compassion to the LGBT community, many of whom are people of color.

“I remain committed to SB 1146 and other efforts that add to the progress we have achieved as a diverse community.” Assemblywoman Autumn Burke.

In full disclosure, I have nothing but respect for the work of Bishop Ulmer, Pastor Marc Little and the members of Faithful Central Bible Church who are obviously very passionate about defending their position on this issue. I hope that this issue can be resolved. It’s not a good look for our community to be so divided publicly.

 In the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. U.S.Olympic champions John Carlos and Tommie Smith gave the black power salute while receiving their medals to protest the racist treatment of African-Americans in the United States by a system of white supremacy. They were immediately kicked out the Olympic village and sent home by U.S. officials.

Not much has changed with white supremacy. Golden boy and Olympic gold medal winner Ryan Lochte lied and said that he and three of his teammates were robbed at gunpoint by Rio police.

Evidence began to quickly mount against Lochte’s claims. Teammates Jack Conger and Gunnar Bentz admitted Lochte’s story was a lie. Despite the damage the swimmers have done, Mario Andrada, a spokesman for Rio 2016, said they should be absolved of their wrongdoing.

“Let’s give these kids a break,” he said. “Sometimes you take actions that you later regret. They are magnificent athletes. Lochte is one of the best swimmers of all time. They had fun. They made a mistake. It’s part of life. Life goes on. Let’s go,” Andrada said during a briefing Aug. 18.

This is what white privilege looks like. Lochte created an international scandal by lying and his behavior is excused by officials.

Lochte is nothing but a liar. The real heroes of the Olympic games were our athletes who represented our country in the glare of lights with pride and dignity. Carlos and Smith are also champions who we should never forget. They knew that black lives mattered in 1968 and they still do.

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