A Birmingham, Ala. pastor is using a controversial church sign to fight a megachurch that is moving into his predominately black neighborhood.
New Era Baptist Church Pastor Michael Jordan’s sign reads on one side, “Black Folks Need to Stay Out of White Churches.” The other side of the sign says, “White Folks Refused to Be Our Neighbors.”
Jordan said God told him to put the messages up outside his West End church.
Church of the Highlands–the largest church in the state, had promoted it was opening a satellite campus in a “high crime” area of the city. The church says it is creating a place of worship in the inner city, even though its intentions are to help curb crime.
Jordan is strongly opposed to Church of the Highlands saying, “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? And I am condemning the black African Americans that worship white churches because the culture is so different,” said Jordan.
The sign has created a firestorm on social media. Church leaders and the mayor denounced the racial “division”. Randall Woodfin, Birmingham’s young, new African American mayor, weighed in tweeting: “There is a spirit that is over this city that has to be brought down,” Woodfin wrote. “A spirit of racism and division. 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.'”
City Councilman Stephen Hoyt, who also serves as a pastor, said ministers should be promoting unity. “It doesn’t help us when we have churches put up language like this, because if this was a white church, we would have some problems,” Hoyt said.
Jordan said he has no plans to change the sign anytime soon and doubled down on the controversial statement telling The Birmingham News that the Church of the Highlands is a “slavemaster church.” Jordan said he’s concerned that its founding pastor, Chris Hodges, and proposed pastor, former Auburn University football player Mayo Sowell, will acquire government funding for the church’s construction. He said that poor, predominantly black communities in West End, Ensley or Fair Park neighborhoods would be hit with funding the sprawling project.
The pastor gave no facts that government funding actually exists for church construction.
“I call it plantation religion, slavemaster religion,” Jordan told The Birmingham News. “The white rich folks start a church and put a black pastor in charge of it. Now you’re supporting the white church coming into a black neighborhood? I think our young mayor is oblivious to what’s going on here.”
Jordan justified the wording behind his sign by saying that while “blacks have flooded white churches and into white neighborhoods,” nearly all white people would never “go to a black church.”
Pastor Jordan has used his marquee lettering to post dozens of controversial statements in recent years. A 2017 sign read, “Undercover racist elected Donald Trump.” Another read “Rape a white woman and you will die in prison,” and a pair condemning homosexuality stated: “AIDS is God’s curse on a homosexual life.”
–Dwight Widaman and news services