A Birmingham pastor unhappy with a mega church’s plans to build a satellite campus in a “high crime” area of the city is firing back. Some locals feel his provocative new message goes a step too far, however.
Pastor Michael Jordan of New Era Baptist Church said it was God who told him to post the controversial messages outside his West End church. On one side, the sign reads, “Black Folks Needs to Stay Out of White Churches,” while the other side states, ” … White Folks Refused to be Our Neighbors.”
According to local station WVTM, Jordan has come out in strong opposition to efforts by Church of the Highlands, Alabama’s largest church, to construct a new place of worship in the inner city. The suburban, predominately-white mega church believes its new sanctuary could help curb crime in the area.
Highlands currently has 16 branch locations across Alabama that send more than 40,000 worshippers flocking to its doors each week to hear sermons preached by founding pastor Chris Hodges, AL.com reported. Hodges recently appointed an African-American pastor on the church’s staff, Mayo Sowell, to head the new worship center.
Despite the well-intentioned efforts, Jordan has made it crystal clear that he doesn’t want the megachurch encroaching in his community.
“You don’t want to live next door to us, so why do you want to put a church here if they don’t know us?” the Black pastor told WVTM. “… And I am condemning the black African Americans that worship white churches because the culture is so different.”
“Putting that church in West End, you’re bringing white spirituality in a black environment,” he said in a separate interview with AL.com. “Our music is different. Our experiences are different. We’re more active in worship.”
Local teen Keagan Edwards, 16, has taken issue with Jordan’s signs, however, and said he doesn’t see the problem with Black people worshiping in largely white churches.
“I really think it shouldn’t be up there,” Edwards said of the messages. “I wouldn’t have a problem going to a predominately white church because everyone’s not racist and you’ve got to give somebody a chance.”
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin also weighed in on the controversy and condemned Jordan’s rhetoric as racist and divisive.
“There is a spirit that is over this city that has to be brought down,” Woodfin said in a Twitter post. “A spirit of racism and division. We have to change the conversation to what we need it to evolve into. Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
There is a spirit of racism and division that is over this city. It must be brought down. We have to change the conversation to what we need it to evolve into. “Darkness can not drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.” pic.twitter.com/QuNGjqYrjS
— Randall Woodfin (@WoodfinForBham) May 15, 2018
It turns out Jordan is no stranger to controversy, and this isn’t his first time in hot water over the signage outside his church. In 2013, he responded to George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the Trayvon Martin case with a message that read, “George Zimmerman Jury Supported White Racism,” WBRC reported. He also made headlines in 2004 when he posted a sign declaring that “AIDS was God’s curse on a homosexual life.”
When it comes to Highlands, Jordan suspects the church is only coming into the neighborhood to attract Blacks who want the status of a trendy, popular church.
“It’s a slavemaster church,” he told AL.com. “I call it plantation religion, slavemaster religion. The white rich folks start a church and put a black pastor in charge of it.”
“Blacks have flooded white churches and moved into white neighborhoods,” he added. “It’s for status reasons. It’s a sense of self-worth. But 99 percent of whites won’t go to a black church.”