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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. Obama from KFC

    .....I've just promoted Cone to a Cabinet level position in my Administration.

    –Obo

    April 23, 2012 at 7:18 am |
    • wol

      wat

      not having fun at your adolescent website?

      yeah, we enjoy your posts here. they're so clever. woo.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:56 am |
  2. South

    Do you guys not see what CNN is doing. They have become so irrelevant that they have to resort to posting 85 year old photos of lynchings to try and get attention. It's all inflammatory BS. It has nothing to do with journalism or news. Don't dignify it by back and forth bickering in the comments.
    Everyone above the age of 15 knows what went on in this country and I venture to say that most are sickened by it. What is CNN's point other than to be inflammatory.

    April 23, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • sportees_22

      You can't have real discussions about hate (of all races) unless you discuss it.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  3. Jorge

    Let's face it, this is a country that loves to hate, it goes around from group to group like a pinball, sometimes slowing down but never really stopping, because there will always be something or somebody starting up the wicked game again...

    April 23, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • Equal Rights NOW

      If we all had equal rights, then the pinball wouldn't be able to cause as much damage at all, would it?

      April 23, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  4. J0nx

    Oh brother. They really have to let go of this. It's been 50 years since civil rights FFS and there's a black President in office. Time to move on man...

    April 23, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  5. Dystopiax

    Well – in my opinion, Elmhurst College in Illinois – pre-theological for the UCC and Lutheran denominations & alma mater of both Reinhold and his theologian brother, Richard Niebuhr – should offer a two-semester course called =Why James Cone is a Jerk=. I'd come out of retirement to teach the course at Elmhurst, which is also my alma mater.

    April 23, 2012 at 6:39 am |
  6. sillyMe

    Oh, how we love to show dramatic photos of black lynchings... we just don't want to believe that the days of serious racism are over.
    These photos seems to imply that white folks would gather to watch blacks get lynched. Well, all people of all stripes gather to watch PEOPLE get lynched. There are photos of all kinds of people gathered around... smiling... and almost partying ... at the sight of white folks getting lynched, too. It was how things were done.
    Most of the time, the people getting lynched were criminals. Back in the day, criminals were lynched.
    Showing photos of black lynchings is only done to stoke the flames of racism-paranoia.
    In 100 years of the worst years of black lynchings, only 5,000 black folks were lynched.... some of whom were probably not guilty of a real crime. 1830 to 1930 (Tuskegee stats)
    Today, it only takes 3 to 4 years for black men to kill each other to the tune of 5,000 murders.
    Black Americans do, indeed, have problems, but the white man isn't one of them...nor the asian or the hispanic

    April 23, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • Equal Rights NOW

      Without a fair trial in a court of law, every single one of those who were lynched were innocent under the law.

      Silly you. What were you thinking?

      April 23, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • Twan

      Serious racism?? Wow!

      April 23, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Gee

      The white man is the worlds problem, what are you blind? you racist trip me out like things are so good for black people, and like Obama is not white too.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  7. Ray

    When is segregation permissble in America? Sunday morning 8 to 12.....

    April 23, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • Equal Rights NOW

      The biggest and most pervasive segregation in modern America is on Sunday, when people go to the church they identify with.
      This is not news. Christianity is a racist religion. It can be used to justify any sort of segregation.
      Or didn't you know what the word "holy" is supposed to mean? Segregation. Yet integrated churches are rare. How about that.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Peace Lilly

      How foolish people are when they lump groups of like people together. Christians are racist, whites are racist, etc. Don't any of you see that you can lump together groups of PEOPLE to hate and somehow justify it in your mind? I don't attend a church because I do not believe in them. They are more often than not full of hypocrites...I know this personally because it is WHY I stopped attending churches. What I believe is in my heart and does not need a physical building in which to practice my beliefs. If real Christians would simply rely on their heart instead of being part of a herd, the non-believers wouldn't be so quick to throw stones. True story, a catholic woman and another friend of mine who does not believe in religion were talking with me one day. Somehow the topic of body piercings came up and my non-religious friend mentioned she had several. The catholic lady refused to speak to her again. She was good enough to talk to until the catholic lady found out my other friend had body piercings. THAT very thought process is the root of "racism" and all "racism" is, is the belief that you can somehow put yourself higher than someone else, you are somehow better. WRONG! I don't care if it's skin color, hair color, body piercings, whatever. It is WRONG to believe you are somehow better than someone else! Do you like just one kind of ice cream? Humans come in different flavors. You don't have to believe the same things that others believe. But you do have a responsibility as a human on this planet to respect and tolerate all life here. I have seen in my lifetime some very relevant and profound people with some incredible messages. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Think about how shallow my life would be if I discounted that profoundness because of something as silly as skin color or religion. It's disgraceful how the human race, collectively, can be so shallow!

      April 23, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  8. susie2

    So you don't like white people, well you have the choice to go to Africa! In the news, a father sold two of his sons there last week. This was a black father that committed that crime by the way. Do you realize all you do is HATE? Christians are happy Jesus didn't HATE!!!!!!

    April 23, 2012 at 5:54 am |
    • Equal Rights NOW

      Read the Bible.
      Jesus was a hater racist.
      And if you were willing to grovel a bit to this arrogant con-artist, he'd say you're okay for a dog, I mean a non-Jew.
      He was one of those power-hungry attention-loving cult leaders.

      Read his words. Read the Bible. It's a collection of ignorant hate and oppression and RACISM.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:25 am |
  9. Vinny

    Maybe he considers the possibility of God doesn't exist. God is not black nor white. There is just no God.

    April 23, 2012 at 5:51 am |
    • big bob

      vinny, i hope for your sake you change your tune as judgement day approaches. its sad you bite the hand that feeds you.
      read revelations and you will understand why all todays events must come to pass and you will understand the truth in the events that have been predicted.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:43 am |
  10. Patricia

    We supposely have a legal system, which should be kept pure from any kind of bias. And Christians supposedly have a moral code based on the teachings of Jesus. Given these facts, why not discuss intelligently how this picture graphically represents what happens when people reject these norms. If there ever was a good start for a Sunday sermon, this is it.

    What does anyone have to hide? This picture, and the portion of our history that it represents, can be and should be a focal point for thought and discussion, both within the Christian faith, and within the country. The point is–for Christians and for all Americans–is what are the moral lessons that we should take from this sort of criminality and hatred so that nothiing like this ever happens again. Why is there alll of this clammering to hide lynching and other acts of violence, when we have not ever turned and faced these issues maturely as a group? So many Americans do not want to talk frankly about violence, when it is the worst sin that anyone could commit.

    April 23, 2012 at 5:48 am |
    • Equal Rights NOW

      Here's why, Patricia:::

      Your religion is racist and is and will always be used by racists to justify their "Christian" or "Jewish" -based racism.

      If you want to look for the roots to this "race supremacy" racism that infects so many "Jews" and "Christians" who think their religion has any legitimacy, then look to the religion and see, right there in black and white, the words of the racist "god" to "his people" where everyone else is an outsider to be scorned, hated, enslaved, and killed whenever some priest thinks it necessary.

      Oh, I meant when the racist "god" wanted all those people slaughtered down to the tiniest baby unless they wanted some girl slaves. Those could live as slaves. No one else. "God" said so.
      And Jesus was a racist. It's right there in his supposed words. Haven't you read your religious texts?

      If you want to find out where the problem is coming from, read the Bible.
      Then it may become clear to you what sort of things should be done to put an end to this problem.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:05 am |
  11. TheColorRacism

    Non-racists live collectively without the taint of tribalism while moving forward with the rest of humanity. Racists see people by their skin color before all else and choose to focus on history lessons that no longer apply. It is mainly those who proclaim to be fighting against racism that keep it alive and well in America. So will Cone be joining the ranks of Al Sharpton, Rev. Jessie Jackson, and Rev. Wright in their racist tirades as well? The sooner we stop bringing up the past, the sooner we can get past it.

    April 23, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • Equal Rights NOW

      Many people don't understand the past. They see it with ignorance and prejudice and what they have been programmed to see.

      We can move on, but if we keep repeating the past, where is the point at which we have moved on? We haven't made hardly any progress despite the Civil Rights protests in the old days. To "move on" requires change.
      Conservatives hate change. They want to turn the clock back. A long, long ways back.
      To when they had slaves, people they could push around and assault and murder and rob and cheat and treat as badly as they want without any restraint.
      That's why they want all the exact same goals as the Confederacy. And their religion is the justification, just like it was during the 1800s.
      They don't want equality. They want to be the biggest thugs in their feudal territories where racist JimCrow-type laws have ripped the rights and freedoms away from the poor who will be useful as wage-slaves.
      I'm not saying they are sane. Not at all. They are psychotic. And they hide behind religion and continue the racist policies of the Deep South.
      Which brings us back to racism and racist violence. That "stand your ground" law was just a test run.
      They've got pepper spray ready, tasers, snipers, and all the oppressive laws their tiny minds could devise and that they could bribe into getting created.

      You want to ignore racism because you'd rather we didn't look too closely at the people who tell you what to do. Am I right?

      April 23, 2012 at 6:44 am |
    • Gee

      So talking about racism past is responsible for the present racism. Racial profiling, mass incarceration, wealth gap, housing discrimination, and much more is because of the people that talk about it. You don't have a clue you shouldn't' even be in the conversation

      April 23, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  12. Daws

    Though I guess it's somewhat interesting that no one covered lynchings in theology before him, I'm stuck thinking about the question of "Why are there still theologians?" Aside from seeming somewhat archaic like "blacksmith" ...a Theologian is really just a caged in Philosopher, I dare say here a shackled slave, unable to venture outside the bounds of a certain religion's beliefs. And Philosophy, coincidentally, has addressed the issue of lynchings many times over... throw off your chains Mr. Cone and see what more it has to offer you.

    April 23, 2012 at 5:18 am |
  13. HearMeNow

    I agree with you jabby. The Christian gospel teaches that we do not fight against flesh and blood but against the evil rulers of this world. There's a spiritual reality to this life that affects all our daily living in the physical. I'm a black man and I feel the pain the suffering and the embarrassment of lynching...even though it happened many years before my own time. And yes..it's still happening in less obvious ways today. But as a Christian, we got to remember not to look at these things from just the physical but the spiritual. Yes you can forgive when you consider how spiritually blinded these people were.

    April 23, 2012 at 5:06 am |
  14. Ang

    To think how many of those smiling "Christians" in the photo, ended up in hell when they took their last breath, only to find that they couldn't enter into heaven with hatred in their hearts. Their eternity lost forever because they refused to learn to love. Lord, help me to love even my enemies. Amen!

    April 23, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • Blain

      Yes, this smiling preacher above will not see the kingdom of heaven, as he has lived a hateful life of his own.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:10 am |
  15. HA!

    I am amazed at the hypocrisy on these message boards. The nerve of some people to say blacks should get over slavery. WE have to bring a certain level of sensitivity to these issues. Lets say a crime was committed against you and your family suffered for it many generations after it first occurred. When the same crime continues to happen, what right do I have to tell you that you should get over it? One can only forgive and forget when atonement is made. The Jews say never forget. Who tells them to get over the holocaust. (6 million dead) So its ok for the Jews never to forget but we as african americans should forget about the 100 million ancestors lost during the middle passage alone? WOW!! How about we take our own advice here. If black people should stop crying about slavery, than white people should stop complaining about how they lost the civil war.

    DON"T BELIEVE ME? Why is it that you don't see a statue of William T. Sherman outside the state capital in Charleston. Why aren't any schools or streets named after him in South Carolina or Georgia? White Americans in the south still refuse to forgive sherman for what he did almost 200 years ago. So its ok for Whites to be mad about Sherman, over a WAR THEY STARTED but black people should just forget slavery. Why are the whites in the south still mad about Sherman? He didn't burn their houses to the ground, nor make war on them? So if this dislike of Sherman is justified in whites, how can you criticize blacks for feeling the same way when it comes to slavery?

    The US owes its existence in large part to African Americans. We were never given anything, and had to fight FOR EVERYTHING! SHOW SOME RESPECT. Until the United States honestly deals with this horrid history of racism and takes the issue head on, race will continue to be a divisive issue in this country. GOD BLESS

    April 23, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • Equal Rights War NOW!!!

      Nice post. Except for the "god bless" at the end. The god of the christians is a racist god. Other than that I liked it.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:23 am |
    • Ang

      Thank you for an awesome post, and may the God of all creation bless you too!

      April 23, 2012 at 4:05 am |
    • Blain

      The south lost the civil war, not white people. If white people lost the civil war then who won? Do some research about who exactly made all the arrangements for shipping and sale of slaves, as they were not white so to speak. And quit blaming whites, do you realize a large portion of white people are European immigrants not present at the time of slavery? Why should we feel guilt? It wasn't our families who did this.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:19 am |
    • Peace Lilly

      I think the key here is to stop blaming and remember, with dignity and respect, those that went before us to make a better life for Americans and who were not treated very well at all. I also think part of that key is to respect today for yourself and your offspring. Teach the lessons of the past without pity and blame in the process. Pity and blame can be just as divisive when used as a tool of ill will as racism can. What happened in our country's past can be looked on with much criticism and even hatred. But hatred is an evil and negative mindset that will only serve to make life worse, not better, for those that choose to cling to it. The act of hatred and it's ill effects knows no color. It is just as destructive regardless of the color of one's skin. It's long past time to evaluate the "rightness" or "wrongness" of our past. The past holds only lessons to be communicated to future generations and should never be used as fodder to perpetuate negativity. Think about the message you teach your children when your words say "forgive" but your actions say "you should forgive but it's hard". That "should" makes the message less tangible while the "but" negates anything good meant to come from your message.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  16. TRUTHBOY

    Now that America is going down you white people want to be friends. Now you want everybody to get alone. But NO...god says that you reap what you sow. ALL you white people are going into slavery according to the bible.

    Revelation 13:10
    King James Version (KJV)
    10He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

    You killed hundreds of millions of native americans....and enslaved Millions of blacks. PAYBACK IS COMING.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:12 am |
    • Equal Rights War NOW!!!

      Go back to your little neo-nazi website and tell em you are too stupid to send out on a mission and that they should let you chant slogans instead.
      We don't need liars pretending to be angry blacks to try to foment some sort of support for your racist viewpoint.
      Most black people just want to live a normal life without being oppressed. Your words are useless. There is no need for a race war.
      But there is definitely need for an EQUAL RIGHTS WAR! We need to take every racist no matter what they look like and put them in an insane asylum. Okay, not quite a warlike goal, but lots of racists like you are too stupid and insane to be non-violent. We may have to shoot you in self-defense. And wouldn't that just be a shame. Tsk tsk.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:30 am |
    • Blain

      Umm, so my family lived in Europe during the times you speak of. So you want me to go down for things that happened over 100 years prior to any member of my family setting foot on the continent? Your wrong, I don't want to be friends because that line of thinking is purely ignorant and you are lumping all white people together is some weird conspiracy to make you fail. With all the advantages given there is no one left to blame anymore, when you fail you fail on your own.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:27 am |
  17. Susie

    This is a good time to republish this picture since this is what they are trying to do to George Zimmerman

    April 23, 2012 at 3:09 am |
    • Squincher

      No little Susie, George Zimmerman WAS the Tree and Rope, Treyvon Martin just hung on to him for dear life till it was too late

      April 23, 2012 at 3:32 am |
    • thatbrutha

      ZImmerman deserves to be lynched. THIS ISN'T Slavery this is America home of the free, Apple Pie, Baseball. Hypocrisy.

      WE ARE NOT TALKING SLAVERY HERE EITHER.

      WE ARE TALKING AFTER the Civil WAR and nearly to the beginning of WW2.

      Folks stay on point here and stop going default argument mode on us.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:37 am |
  18. Victor

    PRACTICE FORGIVENESS for they know not what they do!

    April 23, 2012 at 3:07 am |
    • thatbrutha

      They knew, oh they knew they could and still do get away with it.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:38 am |
  19. Homer

    I commend CNN for running this article. It's good to learn more about Cone even if the article is slanted. I first read about this man when I researched Reverent Wright and Obama's 20 years of absorbing Cone's divisive philosophies as preached by Wright. When you look closely, Cone and Wright's thinking about the relationship of church and state is almost lockstep with the Taliban and Rick Santorum. It's really sad that we've elected a President of the United States who is guided by this thinking.

    April 23, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • Nyarlathotep

      As the late, great Hitchens said, "Liberation theology is a contradiction in terms."

      April 23, 2012 at 7:25 am |
  20. mother73

    man, I am so tired of hearing black/white arguments. Blacks were not the only people used in the slave trade, in the u.s.; or the other places it still goes on. It doesn't even matter. Just another way to be a separatist. Black/white, Left/right, Republican/democrat, Christian/muslim, Vegan/carnivore. All the same us/them debate. How about some real talk based on the absolutes, like we are all human. We all have the same needs and desires. We all are capable of more.

    April 23, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • abudum

      What an asinine comment. Wake up and join the real world woman.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:18 am |
    • jabby

      Ditto. The Gospel is that all men, Jews and Gentiles, are brothers and have one Father, even God. And our fight is not against other humans but against the demon rulers of this world. Unfortunately, however, the churches are so busy getting bigger and richer that they have neither the time, energy nor inclination to preach Christ's Gospel to all men and nations as He commanded. Hence, Christ's letters to the churches in the book of Revelation. Even so, God is love and as many as love, these are His children.

      April 23, 2012 at 3:34 am |
    • hess

      you have know where you come from,& to know where you going.

      April 23, 2012 at 5:12 am |
    • Equal Rights NOW

      jabby, racists do not consider their targets of hate to be "god's children", brothers/sisters, friends, neighbors, or even deserving of any human respect, so your words are empty and useless in arguing against racism.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • Mirosal

      @ jabby ... you said "Hence, Christ's letters to the churches in the book of Revelation." Since when was your "Christ" determined to be the author of that little doomsday pamphlet? Did your dead jesus guy authorize its inclusion? When the letters of the New Testament were penned, not a single one of them had ANY idea that their works would be published, collected, and collated into any type of book. Revelation was written by a guy on an island who seemed like he was on a BAD acid trip.

      April 23, 2012 at 7:10 am |
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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.