LISTEN: Eddie Long’s Church Refutes Hospice Rumor; Seminaries Start Black Lives Matter Movement Courses (BCNN1, 12/8/2016)

This is the Black Christian News Network Podcast for Thursday, December 8, 2016.

1. According to the Christian Post, weeks after declaring “God has healed me” to his congregation following a battle with an undisclosed “health challenge,” leader of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, Eddie Long, has taken another sick break from church to get rest as church officials fended off rumors Thursday that he is now under hospice care. Long’s assistant elder, April McLaughlin, told The Christian Post in an email, “No, not ever in hospice! Currently, not accepting calls but thanks for verifying the rumor.” On a prayer call early Thursday morning another church official, elder Karen Stanback, said Long was away from church getting some “time to rest” after taking more than a month off in the fall to address his health challenge, which some have speculated to be a terminal cancer. The “Larry Reid Live” show first reported that Long was allegedly receiving hospice care several days ago, which is a form of healthcare usually reserved for people who are terminally or chronically ill.

2. According to Religion News Service, New York Theological Seminary is one of a few that have offered a class focused on Black Lives Matter, the movement and the theology related to it. Yale Divinity School invited movement activist DeRay Mckesson for a one-credit, weekend intensive on leadership in the Black Lives Matter movement. At Fuller Theological Seminary, professors discussed the movement in classes and students erected a memorial to black people who lost their lives in police custody. As more African-Americans are killed at the hands of police, seminaries have begun to engage with the movement and investigate how their theology can be enlisted to improve race relations. Since September, the New York seminary’s course has looked at historical and contemporary texts that address slavery, mass incarceration, policing and white privilege. Students also attended a service at a New York church celebrating the three founders of the Black Lives Matter movement.

3. According to EEW Magazine News, the Word Network, which airs programming from Bishop T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Bishop Paul S. Morton and more, is being dropped by Comcast in key markets. To stop what the religious media company is calling an “unjust removal” it has filed a complaint with the FCC against Comcast, Xfinity and NBC. The Word Network is self-described as “the largest African American religious network in the world reaching 3 billion people worldwide.” But that reach may be severely limited if Jennifer Gaiski, senior vice president of content acquisition for the world’s largest media corporation, has anything to say about it. In a press announcement, The Word Network executives claim when Gaiski was asked to explain the removal, she said, “because we are Comcast, and we can.”

4. According to Religion News Service, Dr. Catherine Meeks, a longtime leader in the struggle for racial justice, brings together a range of powerful voices—theologians, pastors, and activists—to grapple with the spiritual and social crisis of racism in a new collection of essays: Living into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America (Morehouse Publishing). The book is “timely and urgently needed,” says Jim Wallis in the foreword, in the aftermath of the contentious and troubling national election that showed how far we are from being a “postracial” country. The eight writers featured in Living into God’s Dream have spent years working to heal the wounds of racism. The essays weave together psychological, sociological, and theological threads, creating a body of work that will help readers reflect on their own journey as a White person or as a person of color.

5. According to NBC News, a survivor of the killings of nine parishioners at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, said she watched her son “take his last breath” and witnessed her best friend be brutally slain at the hands of suspect Dylann Roof during an emotional opening day of the federal trial Wednesday. Felicia Sanders described the horrific moments as Roof opened fire during a Bible studies class at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015. Sanders’ granddaughter was also present during the shooting, but survived. Her son, Tywanza Sanders, was shot multiple times and died. Along with Tywanza Sanders, eight other worshipers were killed during the shooting rampage, including Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney. The other victims were: Cynthia Hurd, 54; the Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, 45; Susie Jackson, 87; Ethel Lance, 70; Rev. Depayne Middleton Doctor, 49; Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., 74; and Myra Thompson, 59.

6 . According to Post and Courier, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott praised the National Museum of African American History and Culture when it first opened in the fall. But the South Carolina Republican is now saying curators of the museum, an affiliate of Smithsonian Institution, neglected to include an exhibit on a crucial figure: Clarence Thomas, the second black Supreme Court justice to sit on the highest bench in the land. In a letter to Smithsonian Director David Skorton, Under Secretary for Smithsonian Museums and Research Richard Kurin and NMAAHC Director Lonnie Bunch, Scott wrote, “I sincerely hope that a museum that has done so much right in telling the history of African Americans will not deny generations of Americans the privilege of experiencing Justice Thomas’s incredible and inspirational story.” Scott, one of the two current black members of the Senate, made his plea both practical and personal.

7. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, former and current black employees on Tuesday filed a class action lawsuit against Atlanta-based CNN, Turner Broadcasting and New York based parent company Time Warner for racial discrimination. In a press release, Daniel Meachum said, “As a result of the current discrimination lawsuit filed on behalf of DeWayne Walker vs. CNN, Time Warner & Turner, we have uncovered stories involving abuse of power, nepotism, revenge, retaliation and discrimination.” The press release provided a photo of DeWayne Walker, a CNN producer who sued CNN individually in January for $50 million for racial discrimination and retaliation for filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He accused CNN of not promoting him over 13 years because he is black, skipped over frequently for promotions in favor of white employees.