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America’s ‘angriest’ theologian faces lynching tree
A crowd gathers in Marion, Indiana, in 1930 to witness a lynching. This photograph inspired the poem and song “Strange Fruit.”
April 21st, 2012
10:00 PM ET

America’s ‘angriest’ theologian faces lynching tree

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - When he was boy growing up in rural Arkansas, James Cone would often stand at his window at night, looking for a sign that his father was still alive.

Cone had reason to worry. He lived in a small, segregated town in the age of Jim Crow. And his father, Charlie Cone, was a marked man.

Charlie Cone wouldn’t answer to any white man who called him “boy.” He only worked for himself, he told his sons, because a black man couldn’t work for a white man and keep his manhood at the same time.

Once, when he was warned that a lynch mob was coming to run him out of his home, he grabbed a shotgun and waited, saying, “Let them come, because some of them will die with me.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

James Cone knew the risks his father took. So when his father didn’t come home at his usual time in the evenings, he’d stand sentry, looking for the lights from his father’s pickup truck.

“I had heard too much about white people killing black people,” Cone recalled. “When my father would finally make it home safely, I would run and jump into his arms, happy as I could be.”

Cone takes on a theological giant

Cone left his hometown of Bearden, Arkansas, and became one of the world’s most influential theologians. But the memories of his father and lynch mobs never left him. Those memories shaped his controversial theology, and they saturate his recent memoir, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.”

Cone, who once called himself “the angriest theologian in America,” is still angry. His book is not just a memoir of growing up in the Jim Crow era; it’s a blistering takedown of white churches, and one of America’s greatest theologians, Reinhold Niebuhr - a colossal figure often cited by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today, Niebuhr’s importance is acknowledged by both liberal and conservative Christian leaders. President Obama once called him one of his favorite philosophers. Niebuhr, the author of classics such as “The Irony of American History,” died in 1971 after a lifetime of political activism.

Cone, however, said neither Niebuhr nor any other famous white pastor at the time spoke out against the most brutal manifestation of white racism in the 20th century America: lynching.

Between 1880 and 1940, Cone says, an estimated 5,000 black men and women were lynched. Their murders were often treated as festive affairs. Women and children cut off the ears of lynching victims as souvenirs. People mailed postcards of lynchings. One postcard of a charred lynching victim read, “This is the barbeque we had last night.”

But Niebuhr said nothing about lynching, little about segregation, and once turned down King’s request to sign a petition calling on the president to protect black children integrating Southern schools, Cone said.

Niebuhr’s decision not to speak out against lynching encouraged other white theologians and ministers to follow suit, Cone said, because Niebuhr was considered the nation’s greatest theologian.

“White theologians didn’t say anything about lynching,” Cone said from his office at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where he teaches a course on Niebuhr. “I tried to find a white theologian who addressed it in a sustained way. No one did it.”

Cone’s criticism of Niebuhr baffles at least one well-known Niebuhr scholar. Charles Lemert, author of “Why Niebuhr Matters,” said King often cited Niebuhr as an inspiration. He said he’d never heard that Niebuhr rejected a petition request from King. “It would be so remote from everything the man was.”

Lemert said Niebuhr had established a long record of speaking out against racism, beginning when he became a pastor in Detroit. Niebuhr may not have spoken out against lynching and other forms of racism later on because of another reason, Lemert said.

“He had a debilitating stroke in 1951,” Lemert said. “By the time the civil rights movement was full blown, he was retired and getting ill.”

Why Cone is angry

Cone has spent much of his career condemning the white church for saying little about slavery or racial justice. Yet his pugnacious reputation doesn’t jibe with his appearance. He is a slight man with a boyish face, cinnamon complexion and dimples. He has a high-pitched voice that drips with the Southern inflections of his native Arkansas.

Cone first gained attention in 1969 with the release of “Black Theology and Black Power,” a book he wrote after urban race riots and King’s assassination.

That book took theology out of academia and placed it on the still-smoldering streets. He became known as the father of “black liberation theology.” He said God was black (he meant it figuratively) because God was closest to those who were oppressed and despised - black people in America.

Cone said his passion for justice comes from growing up in the black church.

Cone blended the racial pride of the black power movement with an emphasis on social justice that had been a part of the black church since enslaved Africans first read the Bible. Jesus' primary message, he said, wasn't about getting people to heaven, but liberating people here and now from oppression - racial, economic and spiritual.

Cone said he was tired of white theologians writing about an otherworldly theology while cities burned and blacks were murdered by racists.

“I felt like I was the angriest black theologian in America,” he once wrote in his book “Risks of Faith.” “I had to speak out.”

Cone inspired some and angered others.

Critics say he developed a divisive, racist theology that describes God as black and whites as evil. They say he’s stuck in the '60s and never abandoned the bitterness of growing up in segregation.

Supporters say Cone exposed the hypocrisy of white churches and gave voice to helpless, poor and oppressed Christians in places as far away as China and Latin America.

The Rev. James Ellis III, an author who has been both critical and supportive of Cone, says before Cone, theology was interpreted through a white male perspective.

Cone has inspired not only blacks but also women and other racial minorities to enter seminaries and the pulpit, he says.

“Whether you agree with Cone or not, he’s definitely someone you need to deal with,” said Ellis, author of “OnThaGrindCuzin: The School Daze of Being ‘Incognegro’ in 1619.”

“He takes the gloves off and gets down to the nitty-gritty.”

Jonathan Walton, an assistant professor of African American Religious Studies at Harvard University, said listening to Cone is like “listening to a Hebrew prophet.”

For many people, Walton says, Cone “exposed that the God that they were worshiping was more consistent with the Pharaoh in Egypt than the Hebrew children.”

Cone said people still misunderstand his theology. He said he does not believe that whites are more sinful than others.

“God made us all as brothers and sisters,” he said. “I’m mad when people don’t treat others as brothers and sisters. I’m concerned about the suffering of all people, not just black people. If anybody is being treated unjustly, I’m with them.”

Singing about the ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’

Cone said his passion for justice comes from growing up in the black church. In his recent memoir, he describes how blacks relied on music and faith to deal with the cruelty of segregation.

On Saturday nights, he said, blacks in his hometown would go to juke joints with names like Sam’s Place to hear blues songs like “Hoochie Coochie Man.” On Sunday mornings, some of the same people would go to church to sing spirituals like “Lord, I Want to be a Christian in My Heart.”

Church comforted Cone, but it also made him ask questions.

“My thing was, if the white churches are Christian, how come they segregate us? And if God is God, why is He letting us suffer?”

The cross, he said, helped him find some answers. He said many white Christians “spiritualize” the cross, seeing it as a penalty Jesus had to pay for mankind’s sins.

But black Christians, starting with the slaves who took up the Bible, also viewed the cross as a way to cope with suffering.

Blacks looking at the images of lynching victims took heart from Jesus’ suffering on the cross and his resurrection, Cone said.

He writes:

“Black Christians believed that just knowing that Jesus went through an experience of suffering in a manner similar to theirs gave them faith that God was with them, even in suffering on lynching trees just as God was present with Jesus in suffering on the cross.”

Cone also talked about his personal suffering in his memoir.

He writes about his wife, Sandra, who died of cancer in 1983. He saw her on the night she died. He said they were joking and laughing as she chided him for not leaving her hospital room to get rest.

He finally did leave, but she died at 3 that morning. Thinking about the cross helped him grieve, he said.

“God talked me through that,” he said, his voice softening. “You look suffering right in you eye and say, ‘You may get me, but you’re not going to have the last word.’ ”

Cone also talks about his parents, Charlie and Lucy, who inspired him and his two brothers. Charlie was a woodcutter who encouraged his wife to return to school, where she eventually earned a college degree.

“I didn’t grow up with a lot of fear,” he said. “I just thought my mother and father would protect me.”

One of Cone’s fears today, though, is that the contemporary black church is losing its distinctive theology. He said there’s less talk about justice and more talk about prosperity.

“You go to almost any black church today, and you don’t hear spirituals anymore,” he said. “What you hear is this happy, ‘I’m prosperous’ kind of stuff. I’m not for that. You don’t come to church to be entertained. You come to wrestle with your spirit.”

Cone may still be angry, but he’s also mellowed. He’s tempered some of the voltage from the language he used in his earlier books. And he’s accepted criticism from some black women theologians who said he didn’t include the perspective of black women in his works.

Yet thoughts of his childhood and his parents never seem far off. In his books and lectures, he returns once again to them, especially when people compliment him for his boldness. In one essay, Cone wrote:

“At most, what I say and do are just dim reflections of what my parents taught and lived.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Bible • Black issues • Books • Christianity • Church • Crime • Culture wars • Persecution • Prejudice • Race

soundoff (2,563 Responses)
  1. This article is worthless half truth

    "Between 1880 and 1940, Cone says, an estimated 5,000 black men and women were lynched."... but Cnn fails to state these estimates are for the state of Arkansaw and just a few counties in Arkansaw... And it also implies that the lynching and hate stopped in the 1940's.... so not true. The last know lynching to date occured last year (can't remember the exact date but a young mentally challenged black man was lynched... he had wander off and was found days later hanging from a tree in a field in a predominately white neighborhood)... The reason Cnn and others are able to "stir the pot" as some of you call it is because when racism, prejudice, and hate rears it ugly head most of you " good white folks" look the other way and don't even do so much as to renounce it the name of all that is good... So it's easy for the victims of hate to feel that if you are not for them that you are against them... What needs to be addressed as well... is all of the land that was stolen by many whites in the Jim Crow era... Even today these whites cannot produce the deeds for their land...

    April 22, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • rand

      ONE lynching justifies blaming an entire race for the stupid actions of a few??

      April 22, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Mr. Weasel

      nonsense! If some black man/woman was lynched last year CNN would still be all over it ramming it in our faces. I haven't heard a word of it. We renounce racism everyday and yet every day I'm called a facists. Well....screw it then, I'm a racist. There is no pleasing that race as far as I'm concerned so let them go to their graves boiling in their own hatred. I live my own life and couldn't give a rat's ass about lives of other people. Wanna talk about taken land...well we can go even farther back to when we took it ALL from Native Americans......so why don't you get in line and offer THEM an aplogy as well. Blacks hand their hand it taking this nation from Native Americans as well. Oh, sorry, you can't feel like the victim now...you'll never do that right?

      April 22, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  2. jnkesrouan

    Anybody like me who has ever lived and worked inside a African American inner city will attest that they are always at risk from attack and even death at the hands of AA men who have "black rage".
    And this phenomenon is fed by articles like this one, because it keep people angry about things that happened 60-80 years ago.
    In Europe inciting racial hatred is illegal. Our medias here continue to fed into this by putting up articles like this.

    This story needs to be told, inside a museum and not a blog article.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  3. Jerry Pelletier

    Keep fanning the flames CNN.....Does CNN have any updated news? Maybe that's why CNN's ratings are the lowest for cable news....CNN might want to reinvent itself!

    April 22, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  4. Dennis

    Are you KIDDING ME CNN!?!? No wonder race relations continue to be tensed!!!! Here I am plodding along on my daily routine, stop by the CNN homepage to see what's going on in the world and THIS is plastered all over the frontpage!?!

    The media's agenda is obviously to NEVER let any healing happen, because there's no money in PEACE!!

    The darn picture was from 1930!!!! I wasn't even alive then!! I'm so sick and tired of people trying to keep this issue alive. There is certainly racism in this country, but the PERCEPTION that it is as rampant as the media wants everyone to believe is unbelievable and shameful.

    Wake up. It's 2012. Can we please get some fresh, young journalists who can stop grinding the axe who don't always seeing the glass half empty!!!?

    April 22, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Keith

      That seems right, blame CNN for making you look at things that are unpleasant. You are probably one of the guys that thinks war is great for America too because you don't have to see the truth of it.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Political Gods

      suffering is a good thing ig it leads to change and on to transformation. its OK to be uncomfortable ...that's change at work.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • ebo

      You're exactly right. CNN profits off of fear, anger and dissent. By fanning the flames of race, it makes sure they always have a front page headline people will click on. Sadly, there are many who happily feed into this and take the opportunity to blame any non-black as the reason for their personal failures and struggles. My family is composed of immigrants, 1st generation, who didn't come here until the late 70's, yet they still have to contend with the "black anger." How is that fair?

      April 22, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  5. mike jablonski

    Cnn is owned by a forien country , u.k. , irritating them manipulating our contry. but ask why was there a need for a sponsored negihborhood patrol .

    April 22, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  6. "Q"

    Simplicty is what I want you to think about when you read this. I think we get caught up in too much about race, and not trying to understand culture. Race is not what defines you it's culture. We here in America have a culture that is always evolving from qualitys that are sometimes good and sometimes are bad. When you read and look from the perspective from James Cone point and views, your mind has to be open to try to understand what affect and effect a person mind, body, and soul gets pulled in different directions being subjected to "lynchings". When you are subjected to things of that nature whether you know about it or not, and truely understand what just happen to you or others – THAT SHOCK / ROCKS YOUR CULTURE THAT WHAT "DEFINES YOU / OTHERS". To go back to what is really the issue is that there were Christians whether you come from a black/african american culture or white/caucasin culture that eat / sleep / worship the BIBLE teachings but one culture of christians allowed the other culture of christians to suffer and not speak up so THAT – SHOCK / ROCK OF YOUR CULTURE COULD BE THAT WHAT "DEFINES YOU / OTHERS" – "christians."

    April 22, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Peace Lilly

      I agree with what you say. I have seen so much hate on a lot of these posts lately and I realize we still have a long way to go. Some of us are very different people than the early days of the civil rights movement. I was not old enough to remember the movement and was fortunate enough to have been spared the ugliness of it by my family who did not participate in such things. So I am a white american, brought up without the negativity of the civil rights atrocities, who tries desperately to reach out to just plain ole people. I don't care about color. That would be like caring if a steak is red. When humans finally accept that it is culture that makes us different and not skin color, that is when we can truly change as a race. A race of humans that is. Culture could be our biggest asset. Unfortunately, we use it as our biggest downfall. I just wish everyone would find it in their heart to treat everyone the same. The different flavors of humans makes life interesting!

      April 22, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  7. Dana

    Lynching was a bad thing but it has nothing to do with fairy tales and an invisible guy in the sky.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Keith

      Do you have a point?

      April 22, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Rasheed

      If lack of faith prevents you from knowing God and instead dismissing the scripture as fairy tales and invisible sky people, as is tiringly done by supermarket Athiests, then that's a "you" problem. You have a right not to believe in whatever you choose. But it's a bit selfish and intolerant to assume this author's views on lynching shouldn't be compared to what Christ endured, just because you may not believe.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Bill

      Do you have a comprehension problem?

      April 22, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Tony

      Rasheed, it sounds like you are the one with the problem if you believe that nonsense.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Rasheed

      What nonsense, Tony? And what do you care what I believe? Faith may mean nothing to you, but lack of faith doesn't make you smarter, doesn't mean those with faith are wrong. Means alot of things. You call it nonsense. I sense fear. I don't mind your view whatsoever.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  8. John

    CNN waking up America on SUN with this garbage on its frontpage.. Good job stoking the racial fires.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • 2tor

      They deem it as their job, to keep hate alive, and peddle for OBama to divide the country.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Peace Lilly

      If you'll read the posts about the Zimmerman case, I think you'll see all the fire stoking you need. I truly cannot believe what CNN has allowed to go unchecked on here. Very disappointed at CNN and the clueless racists who have used CNN to promote even more to the racial divide!

      April 22, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  9. Mr. Weasel

    God!!! I miss the good old days!

    April 22, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  10. snowdogg

    Has James Cone expressed any outrage over the treatment of Native Americans, the Holocaust, genocide in Bosnia and Somalia? If not then his lingering fulminations are self-serving and essentially not worthy of public support.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • BigNutz

      Yeah, not sure he was there for those. I think he is just speaking about what he is qualified to speak about.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Keith

      Only to narrow minded folks like you. No one can carry an all encompassing campaign of fairness. That is the thinking of a 9 year old.

      All you can do is what time and attention will allow. Perhaps you can pick up the mantel of the American Indians and others.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  11. Leonard

    what you see is the decline of your nation, deny it if you will but it is to true, I repatriated, please...don't come to where I am, here there's peace and no hate, and the weathers perfect, I leave you people to eat your own.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  12. rpTX

    @Mitch...In terms of grade schools, schools who's enrollment are comprised of mostly minorities are "inferior" not because of the students themselves. Do you know how public schooling is financed? Those schools are a function of the neighborhoods they're in and the property taxes that aren't collected from those neighborhoods, especially given our nation's economic situation as it relates to mortgages and foreclosures. "Superior" schools tend to be in more affluent neighborhoods as the property values and corresponding taxes are high. Those taxes pay for newer facilities, better teaching methods, up to date supplies, and current books and in turn produce a higher percentage of capable students. It has very little to do with the kids themselves. Not sure about you, but I didn't have a choice as to who my parents were going to be, what their occupations were, and where we lived. I was blessed with a pretty nice hand to play and it's turned out quite well for me. Obviously, not every kid has those opportunities from day one. People like you will find any possible way to legitimize your racial biases. Amazing...

    Kinda reminds me of someone from my past who's son is now "away" for a myriad of things. She blamed the few black kids he hung out with(all perfectly clean cut kids who'd never been in trouble in their lives) for all of her son's drug and crime problems. Thing is, they were rich, living in the suburbs, and all of the people he associated with were all rich, white kids who'd gone the wrong way. To this day, 15 years later, the lady still says "blacks" ruined her son since they're the ones doing all of the drugs, committing all of the crimes, and destroying our nation. Wow...

    April 22, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • ebo

      Your argument is an excuse for poor performance. An out-of-date textbook doesn't impact a student's ability to read or do mathematics. Addition hasn't changed. If a student is willing to learn and has the support of his/her family, he will be able to achieve. The greatest obstacles would come from ignorant peers who ridicule drive for success and lack of role models... It is easier to become a doctor or lawyer when your parents are one; they can guide you through the process. Still those two shouldn't account for the tremendous failure of schools in low income areas. That falls on students and parents.

      The level at which a school is equipped SHOULD reflect the affluence of the community. If I foot the largest portions of the bill, I should get first choice. Sending extra funding and extra care to schools where large portions of the parents and children don't care anyway is pure waste.

      Just because years ago who's child was adversely impacted by his relationship with "bad" white kids doesn't mean that is the standard.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • rpTX

      @ Ebo...I have a parent that has researched this, written extensive journal articles and studies, is a prof, and has taught on this for years. It's not that simple. Not even close. There are plenty of studies to show that. If I've learned from inferior, out of date textbooks and a dated cirriculum, I'm at a HUGE disadvantage when I'm 15 and I sit down to take the ACT or SAT. I'm at a HUGE disadvantage when, if I make it to college, I'm sitting in a room with a bunch of students who didn't learn that way. There is a saying I heard many times when I was growing up...blacks and minorities sometimes have to work twice as hard to achieve the same results their white counterparts do. In some cases, it's 100% true. Of course big portion of this is on the parents, but saying the environment in which a kid is put in to learn for those 13 years doesn't make a difference is complete stupidity.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  13. Vic

    It's kind of strange that some of the posters here on this subject all show hate for one another even though you don't know each other. I'm not a believer but i'm sure most of you call yourselves believers, which is okay if that's what you need to do to get you through whatever you need to get yourself through. But article wasn't that long and had a quote that read "“God made us all as brothers and sisters,” he said. “I’m mad when people don’t treat others as brothers and sisters. I’m concerned about the suffering of all people, not just black people. If anybody is being treated unjustly, I’m with them.”" And as soon as you were done you came a conclusion of hate and divisiveness. "Unbelievable"

    April 22, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • rpTX

      People almost always only use the portions of a religion that suit their thinking. It's completely oxymoronic to say you're a Christian and hate anyone, let alone another race. The Bible explicitly says how we should treat eachother. No where in it does it say to "hate thy neighbor." Yet, you have people who insist they're Christians saying hateful things, doing hateful things, and wearing a cross while doing it. I belive the term we use int he English language for those individuals is "hypocrite." This is probably a huge leap, but I would argue that those people really aren't Christians and they're just pretending to be. For example, I play many sports as hobbies. I, however, don't train like a true professional athlete would. I play baseball, but I'm not a baseball player. These people play Christian, but they're really not true Christians. They don't "train" like a Christian would. How can you be if you can spew out hate and in the next sentence say, "God is great." I don't really think "He" wants one promoting his brand like that....and that goes for blacks and whites, cause there are plenty of blacks that are the same way.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  14. Hollywood Hick

    It must be an election year. CNN trots out all the race stories. Is there someone at this network with a calendar? "Time to blast out the lynching stories. Election coming up." And they think nobody sees through this?

    April 22, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • rpTX

      So when is the timing good? Racial issues happen in ths country 365 days a year. Do you think that if you don't see it, it doesn't exist? So if CNN put up one of these every day of the year, what would your post say then? These things MUST be addressed. I'm very tired of people pretending like we don't have these issues within our border as if everything was solved with MLK and the Civil Rights Movement. It wasn't. Not even close. If anything, it may be just as bad, but in a different way in the sense that we now have the internet. One's ability to anonymously run their mouths on the web and the speed with which information can be passed between people not only makes this harder to stop, but harder to keep track of. Wake up. The world is a crazy place. This stuff being out of the "news" doesn't mean it doesn't exist, and more importantly, does not mean it doesn't need to be discussed.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  15. DailyKenn.com

    I experienced the same racial hatred in violence when I attended a black high school in 1970s.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Mr. Weasel

      Same here....I had to go to a majority black school when my mom moved to a new house and the amount of racism I faced to include the daily beatings I got after school. That's why I never give these stories a second glance. Whites and Blacks are equally racist. Until CNN covers black racism towards white america they'll never be considered fair on this subject.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • David

      It's called "The Hate That Hate Produced"

      April 22, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  16. Junebug

    Mankind will always be a lost soul, wandering around with pride as if we always understood what love and compassion is really all about. We will never truly understand it unless one gets to know God. Godly people seek godly things, not the things of this world because this world lives by the standard of mankind. True love knows no boundaries ....or the color of ones skin.

    1 John 2:15-17 NKJV (Do not love the world) Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

    Colossians 3:12-17 NLT Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Dan

      Shouldn't you be giving 10% of your income to the child molesters at your church right now?

      April 22, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  17. puckles

    The people in the crowd are as evil as it gets. I would hate to be one of them when it comes time to stand before the judgment seat of God.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Dana

      People like you needed to be afraid of an imaginary guy in order to do the right thing.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Keith

      They are not evil, they are ignorant. People today do the same thing, take a look at the recent racism against Mexican immigrants. It wouldn't take a lot for that obvious hatred to ignite violence by people that you probably think are reasonably sane people.

      What Cone is saying is the Bible is about today, not standing before Jesus. If you live with the idea that justice will be done in Judgment you avoid your responsibility to do something today when you see injustice.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  18. RB

    Oh come on people....its the PAST. Get over yourself and move on. Better yet, get down off the cross somone in third world Africa needs the wood.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Piry

      In the past????? Are you kidding me!!!!! Racism is all well and alive today. This days can go both ways. Is so hypocritical that we want just to hided under the table. Come to the south and you will see it well and alive. I remember when I was in the military in Ft. Polk , LA that our commanders warn the troops on Friday not to stop in this little town outside of base because of racism.

      My other point is why in our society we portrait Jesus as white when if you follow history of that era, his race could have been olive skin or black in that era.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Keith

      If you don't pay attention to the past we will do it again.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  19. Godfrey

    "one of America’s greatest theologians" is a strange phrase. How does one judge the greatness of a person who specializes in imaginary things?

    Even so, when Dumbledore is viewed as the "one of Hogwarts' greatest magicians", at least there's a basis for comparison.

    April 22, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Dana

      Good one

      April 22, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  20. Sal Papageorgio

    keep trying to ignite the race war CNN. Looks like Zimmerman was justified so time to switch gears and talk about lynchings that happened over a century ago

    April 22, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • miketofdal

      written like a true racist.

      April 22, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Al sharpton

      So true....

      April 22, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Al sharpton

      I mean Sal is right....

      April 22, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Gerry Daley

      The "race war" has been successfully re-ignited by the GOP who now have their Tea Party minions as its avatars. Your post essentially says, "How dare anyone be intolerant of my intolerance?"

      April 22, 2012 at 10:13 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.