LISTEN: Man Who Set Fire to Churches Pleads Guilty (BCNN1 3/30/17)

1. According to Riverfront Times, a man who lit St. Louis churches on fire has pleaded guilty to arson. David Lopez Jackson, 36, was arrested in 2015 after seven churches were targeted in two weeks. Police eventually charged him in two of the arsons, although he was also a suspect in the other five. On Monday, Jackson admitted setting fires at New Life Missionary Baptist and Ebeneezer Lutheran. He was sentenced to five years in state prison. The fires attracted national attention, largely because the first attacks were on mostly black congregations in north St. Louis, sparking theories the culprit was motivated by racial hatred. Yet any idea of a faceless white supremacist descending on black neighborhoods dried up after his arrest. Police identified Jackson with the help of surveillance footage that recorded his car near the scene of one of the fires. Court records paint a picture of a mentally ill man with a long criminal history. A judge ordered him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in August, though he was found competent to stand trial.

2. According to the Associated Press, a friend of Dylann Roof’s is appealing the prison sentence of two years and three months he received for encouraging friends not to call the FBI and identify Roof after he fatally shot nine black parishioners at a church in South Carolina. Joey Meek’s lawyer filed a one-page notice of appeal on Tuesday. It gave no details. Prosecutors say Roof told Meek he was going to kill black people at a Charleston church during a nighttime Bible study. Meek told authorities he didn’t call police and told a friend not to either because he was scared following the June 2015 attack at Emanuel AME. Prosecutors say Meek also initially lied to the FBI. Meek’s lawyer argued for a lighter sentence earlier this month, saying Meek would be in danger in prison from people angry with Roof.

3. According to Chicago Sun Times, after a public war of words and wrangling between divorce attorneys for Jesse Jackson Jr. and Sandi Jackson over the child-support payments for their two children, the former congressman is volunteering to up his payments by $1,200 a month. Although a judge in Washington, D.C., must still agree to the change, Jesse Jackson’s attorney on Monday filed the request — saying the initial request to reduce the payment from $1,529 to $329 was “sincere and well-founded” but that it “should” go back up to $1,529. That amount has already been paid for March. On March 9, Judge Robert Okun ruled in Jesse Jackson’s favor, writing that the court would suspend his duty to pay child support for April through July, and that he’d have to pay $213 in August. He was ordered to pay $329 a month until a further court order. That led Sandi Jackson’s attorney to accuse Jesse Jackson of not prioritizing his children — while Jesse Jackson’s Chicago attorney shot back that he has and will always support his children.

4. According to the Associated Press, executive changes are afoot at BET Networks. The cable channel said Wednesday that its programming president, Stephen Hill, is stepping down. BET also announced that executive vice president Zola Mashariki is leaving. Connie Orlando, a BET senior vice president, will serve as interim programming chief after Hill’s departure Friday. Last month, Viacom’s CEO identified BET Networks as one of the brands the media conglomerate intends to focus on. Others cited by Viacom chief Bob Bakish included Comedy Central and Paramount Network, the rebranded Spike TV. The changes come a month before BET Networks presents its upcoming schedules to advertisers. BET’s recent programs included “The New Edition Story,” a miniseries about the R&B group that was a ratings success.

5. According to the Christian Post, Gospel singer Fred Hammond is making a new movie to reach those who feel they’ve been forgotten by God. Hammond, the 56-year-old who was inducted into the Stellar Gospel Music Awards Hall of Fame Saturday, released the trailer for his upcoming film “The Choir” last week. In the trailer that he debuted on social media, viewers can see glimpses of a terrorist, exotic dancer, and a man battling with depression and anger toward God. The gospel singer-songwriter and producer told his over 400,000 Twitter followers that he made the film to use it as a tool to reach those who need to feel God’s love.

6. According to the Christian Post, Tye Tribbett is no politician but the gospel singer-songwriter has some words of advice for President Donald Trump. The host of BET’s “Joyful Noise” seems to disagree with Trump’s methods of communication. In a BET video called “Joyful Noise: The Sound Off: Tye Tribbett Takes The Hot Seat,” Tribbett was asked what he would tell the president if given 15 minutes to speak with him. The musician and pastor said one of his biggest issues with Trump is what he says and tweets. Tribbett said: “If I had 15 seconds to speak to our president Trump I would encourage him to think before he tweets and talks. A lot of it is what he says and a lot of it is how he says it. Racism is not new, even in our political judicial system to us. That’s not the only issue I have with him but how he speaks is very important and what he says is very important. If you’re going to be our leader you should lead with a little more tact and decency. I would encourage him in that direction.”

7. According to the Associated Press, the late Muhammad Ali is getting the Ken Burns treatment. The PBS documentarian announced Tuesday that he and two partners will make a two-part, four-hour film about the former heavyweight champ, who died last June. Burns, his daughter Sarah and David McMahon collaborated for a PBS documentary on Jackie Robinson that debuted last year. The tentative plan is to air the Ali film in 2021. Sarah Burns said the outpouring of good will at Ali’s death made it easy to forget how divisive it was when the former Cassius Clay took the Ali name when he converted to Islam and refused to join the Army during the Vietnam War. She said filmmakers want to examine what influenced Ali’s choices and how he stuck with them despite public condemnation.

That’s all for today. You can read these stories and more online at

In closing, remember, the good news of God’s love. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Thanks for listening. May God bless your day.