TBN President Matthew Crouch has suggested that Bishop T.D. Jakes should start a right-leaning “Black love matters” movement to provide an option for Christians uncomfortable with their use of the phrase “Black lives matter” being misconstrued as endorsement of the secular Black Lives Matter organization.
TBN, reportedly the world’s largest religious television network, published a 12-minute YouTube excerpt of Jakes’s conversation with the Crouches that aired on its “Praise” program. The July 20th video begins with The Potter’s House pastor addressing how the slogan “Black lives matter” relates to the overall Black Lives Matter movement.
“I mean, it’s in London, it’s in Nigeria, it went all over the world. [In] South Africa they were running around saying ‘Black lives matter.’ That’s not one organization controlling that. The slogan overrode the organization, so it transcends the organization,” Jakes said.
He went on to explain that probing of the Black Lives Matter Global Network (not to be confused with a similarly named foundation) has revealed that its mission extends beyond “eradicating white supremacy,” ending anti-Blackness, and fighting for justice for Black victims of police violence.
The Black Lives Matter movement emerged in 2013 after a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of all charges in relation to his killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Its co-founders are Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi. The organization emphasizes that it advocates for “ALL Black lives,” stating on its website that it “affirm(s) the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.”
As reported by The Christian Chronicle, and other publications, criticism of the Black Lives Matter movement takes on many shapes. While some Christians simply reject using the phrase “Black lives matter” because of the liberal organization it’s tied to, others outright condemn the statement as racist.
Jakes said that he would hope that disagreement with the organization’s overall mission would not be used as an excuse by some Christians to ignore specific issues the movement also addresses—such as police brutality and the criminal justice system.
“It could be what is being said is, ‘So we’re not gonna have anything to do with Black Lives Matter because they’re liberal and they’re against what the Bible stands for, we’re not going to do it,'” Jakes said. “What ought to be said is, if you feel that way, ‘Let’s start with a right-wing counterpart that cares about the same issues,’ that embraces Christian values so that people have an option.”
Crouch then suggested, seemingly in earnest, that Bishop Jakes should spearhead such a movement. He also suggested the phrase that the new right-wing Christian movement could use in its call for Black liberation and justice.
“So I think I’m nominating you to start that movement right here, right now. You could say ‘Black love matters,'” Crouch said.
The TBN president went on to state that “Christians are having a little bit of a push-back— and even African-American Christians, Christians in general—about just endorsing a secular organization that has some things that are very counter-intuitive.”
Crouch acknowledged that “they have some good things in there, so you kind of want to embrace this part of it and that part of it, but you have to wholesale reject that part of it.”
Because Black Lives Matter is “a platform that you can’t agree with totally,” it would be better to have “a Christian version of Black Lives Matter” than not having one at all, Crouch suggested.
Jakes countered: “It would be better than the church turning its head yet again, and finding an excuse to ignore an issue that’s right in our back door.”
But instead of having a right-wing Christian version of Black Lives Matter started and led by a Black person, it would be “more powerful” for White people to initiate such a movement, the Texas megachurch pastor stated.
Jakes revealed that seeing so many White people turn out in the streets in the months-long protests advocating for Black lives “literally” made him cry.
Whites leading such a movement would also circumvent dissenters resorting to name-calling and labeling advocates as “race-baiters,” he added.
Jakes, perhaps alluding to pastor Louie Giglio’s “white blessings” fallout, discouraged White pastors who may have faced criticism for their missteps from retreating from discussions about racial justice.
“This is an American problem,” Jakes said.
“We didn’t write the creeds that liberty and justice for all, that all men should be created equal. We didn’t write that. But we should be recipients of that,” He added. “And anything that goes beneath that… If you don’t live up to your creed, then who are you? And so it has to be dealt with as an American problem.”
Jakes, a go-to voice on social issues impacting Christian communities, has been tapped on numerous occasions to participate in conversations on racism since the May 25 killing of George Floyd. Floyd, 46, died after fired Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin knelt on the Black man’s neck for nearly eight minutes, despite pleas from Floyd that he couldn’t breathe.
Floyd’s killing, caught on tape, has inspired worldwide protests with Christians of all stripes also showing up on frontlines and speaking out against anti-Blackness. More recently, Christian recording artists Jamie Grace and Dee-1 revealed that they have lost fans for highlighting racism in the religious community.