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Walk Worthy

Bishop Harry Jackson ’75 was the Commencement speaker at Patrick Henry College last year.

Saturday’s commencement featured a rousing and inspirational keynote speech by Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in D.C., who spoke not only of the high honor but of the high cost of obedience to God’s call to lead the nation and influence the culture. Having served courageously at the forefront of the evangelical community’s efforts to halt the legalization of gay marriage within the District, Bishop Jackson recounted how he, his family, and church, have paid a heavy price as a result.
“We’re in one of the darkest seasons in the history of this country,” he began, reciting a list of cultural trends marking the nation’s unmistakable and rapid retreat from its Christian roots. Citing Isaiah 59:15 – “Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey,” he recalled the vicious attacks on his person by gay marriage activists incensed by his work in defense of traditional marriage.

“We’re in that place in our history,” he continued, “when the righteous will be seen as prey. But the glory of the Lord is committed to each one of you as you contend for the truth. The evangelical wing of the Church must be honored, and you must go out and make your voices heard. We cannot afford for you do just disappear into your careers and miss the great opportunities before you.”

Observing how the American church has contracted “social laryngitis,” having apparently abdicated its role to “speak out with authority” on social issues, Bishop Jackson echoed Dr. Farris’s call to live lives worthy of the God we serve. Citing Isaiah 60:1 – “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you,” the Bishop concluded his speech to graduates with a call to action.

“Go forth from this place with trust, passion and commitment,” he cried out. “Great Awakening ‘number three’ is coming to America, and it just might come through [the young men and women in this auditorium].”

Bishop Jackson is as successful in his field — religious leadership — as Eph Bicentennial Medals are in theirs. Why won’t Williams award him a medal and/or invite him to speak at Claiming Williams or Convocation or Commencement? Political correctness.


Jackson ’75 on Religious Tolerance

Bishop Harry Jackson ’75 on religious tolerance after 9/11.

And perhaps we’re not talking about the fact that there can be a sense of anger and outrage that someone will blow themselves up in a particular setting. And, in D.C., we may feel very intimidated. We know that we would be high on a target list.

The 9/11 mosque controversy is one that I don’t think that we have helped people process their feelings. So, as a pastoral counselor for many years and one who trains ministers, I think you would agree with me, Reverend Vincent, that there needs to be a voice, a pastoral voice that helps people deal with how they feel positively, as opposed to explosively.

But, again, I agree that there needs to be leadership, religious leadership. I pastor a church in D.C. that has 22 different nationalities, black, white, Hispanic, first-generation Africans, people who have come from all kinds of walks of life and faiths.

I think there needs to be some specific teaching on this. And the next generation may be less tolerant if we don’t do something. Think about what happened with Al Sharpton vs. Glenn Beck on the Mall, all the hubbub: Is the Tea Party racist or is it not?

We are in a time that, unless we give clear leadership, as Reverend Vincent said, we can slip away from our professed values. And our leaders are supposed to lead the way in exemplifying the American dream.

I only feel explosively on Tuesdays.


Protest Against


Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr. prays with Jonathan Paul Ganucheau and Denise Buckbinder Ganucheau of Dallas, Texas, before performing a religious wedding ceremony that was part of a protest against the District of Columbia city council’s approval of legislation recognizing same sex marriages performed in other states.



Fluffy Profiles

Media Matters asks: Why does the Washington Post keep running fluffy profiles of anti-gay activists?

Today’s [last month’s] Washington Post Style section features a profile of another anti-gay activist, Bishop Harry Jackson.

For 2,200 words, Post writer Wil Haygood tells readers about Jackson’s faith, and about his childhood. Haygood tells us Jackson “found himself” in the Bible after his “Daddy died.” We learn that during his working-class childhood, his parents scraped together money for tuition for private-school, where Jackson was, as he puts it, “the black kid at Country Day who stayed in the houses of wealthy white people.” We learn that he got into Harvard Business school, and was “smitten” when he ran into a childhood acquaintance, who he later married.

And we learn that Jackson’s critics are dangerous, angry people:

His admirers have multiplied, and so have his critics. More than once, police have stopped by his Southeast Washington apartment to check on his safety.

“I was in line someplace recently,” Jackson says, “and a woman who obviously opposes what I’m doing looked at me and said, ‘You better go back to Maryland.'”

His wife says: “We have been verbally abused by the best.”

Some of his appearances unleashed vitriol, even threats.

But we never really hear from Jackson’s critics.

Indeed. But you would if you read EphBlog!

In the Christian Spirit: Merry Christmas from all of us at EphBlog!


Profile of Harry Jackson ’75

Here is a very interesting profile of Harry Jackson ’75 in Wednesday’s Washington Post. I guess he must have been quite a football player at Williams:

After high school he entered Williams College — prestigious, mostly white, Massachusetts — in 1971 and majored in English lit. He again played football. He was a middle linebacker and he hit hard. Pro scouts glanced in his direction. He got a tryout with the New England Patriots.

I think the piece presents a pretty interesting picture of Jackson, one that is more complex than how he is often portrayed in shorted pieces (and sometimes here at EphBlog):

There wasn’t a seminary, or a school of theology. It was just preaching, getting invited to other pulpits and letting word spread on the grapevine. “I was trained in the field,” Jackson says, pride in his voice.


As he preached and worked, he’d look at black family life and get sullen about the grim statistics of divorce and crime. In his mind, too, there was a convergence of black family life and the clashing of alternative lifestyles. He saw abortion rates and gay marriages as undermining traditional family values. He found the pulpit, just as a cause found him.

“Some of the smartest people I knew in college were gay,” he says. “Some black students I knew who were gay were off-the-charts smart.

“But gay marriage is wrong, he says.

“”I don’t know of anybody black who says, ‘I hate gay people.’ We’re more accepting generally. But you overlap that — homosexuality and gay marriage — with broken families, and we don’t know how to put it back together.”

In Corning he founded a church, the Christian Hope Center, just outside town. The parishioners were mostly white, and that never changed.

“We really broke racial barriers for a black man pastoring white people in 1981,” he says.

His wife says: “We just believed we should preach the message God would give us.”

She says there were fewer than 20 blacks in a congregation that would grow to several hundred. “Irish Catholics and former Greek Orthodox,” she says. “It was a very interesting experience.”

Harry Jackson got attention for the successful church and was recruited in 1988 to come to Beltsville to take over, full-time, Hope Christian.

By 1998, he had become a bishop. (One becomes a bishop in the Pentecostal hierarchy by dint of establishing a reputation outside one’s own church. Jackson now serves as an adviser to eight other churches up and down the Northeast corridor as well as advising churches in South Africa.)

It appears that Bishop Jackson has taken full advantage of his Williams education. While I couldn’t disagree with him more on his signature issue, I agree with David that it would be great to get him up to Williamstown more often. Although he apparently didn’t have any formal theological training prior to become a pastor, I suspect he would be an interesting person for students interested in divinity school or the pulpit to talk to.


Harry Jackson ’75 on Glenn Beck

Who was the last Williams graduate to appear on Glenn Beck? Harry Jackson ’75

As best I can tell, Reverend Jackson is the most successful Eph involved in the ministry. (Would that be the correct term for Eps working as reverends, pastors, priests, rabbis, mullahs and so on? If Jackson is not the most successful, who is?)

My suggestions to invite Jackson as a speaker for Claiming Williams and to award him a Bicentennial Medal have not been — How to put this? — universally praised. I guess that some of my liberal Eph friends just see Jackson as too uppity in his opinions on gay marriage. (He is against it, just like President Obama.) Whatever else happens, we must be sure to keep prominent African-Americans with non-liberal views far away from the impressionable youth of Williams. Who knows what might happen!

[I am often accused of baiting but rarely (intentionally) guilty. However, in this case, mea castinga tasty worma.]

UPDATE: Most inflammatory section struck out. Jeff is correct that I should not be an ass.

UPDATE II: Thanks to Brother Lightness for his tip that Jackson has spoken at Williams. I can’t find a record of that talk, but I did find this.


If Jackson is an Eph and father of Ephs, then surely he would make a fine Bicentennial Medal winner.


Speakers for Claiming Williams

From WSO:

This year during Claiming Williams Day, on Thursday, February 4, 2010, speakers, performers, and facilitators from many fields will appeal to a wide range of interests. We hope that you will join them!

Just how “wide” is the “range of interests” that the organizers are looking for? To the extent that they want to hear some non-PC musings about diversity at Williams from an alum, I am available that day . . .

Who would you suggest? How about Wendy Shalit ’97 or Harry Jackson ’75?


Is there a Bicentennial Un-Medal?

I was unhappily surprised to learn that one of the leaders of the fight against gay marriage in Washington, D.C. is Williams alum Harry R. Jackson, Jr., Senior Pastor at the (apparently irony-impaired) Hope Christian Church, among other honorifics.  It is hard to pick just one from the many stupid things attributed to Jackson in this article, but I’ll start with: “Mr. Jackson’s opposition to same-sex marriage stems from a firmly held belief that same-sex marriage will hurt the institution of marriage, which he said is already suffering in the black community.”

Yeah, the REAL cause of the enormous proliferation of single moms and totally uninvolved dads in D.C., in particular in the D.C. black community, is the fact that gays in the District have aspirations towards getting married.  Riiigghhhhtttt …. I guess “Logic” must not have been offered as a course during Jackson’ s tenure at Williams (or HBS).  Were only Jackson to devote some of his obvious energy and talent to addressing the ACTUAL causes of the large volume of births to young, unwed mothers in D.C., rather than trying to distract attention from the problem by attacking something wholly unrelated, he might do his Williams degree proud.  I live in a D.C. neighborhood that has suffered from a recent surge in gun violence, resulting in numerous deaths, and in every case both the intended victims (a few random bystanders have also been hurt) and the perpetrators have been young black males.  I guarantee none of them were the product of gay marriages.  I would bet, on the other hand, that almost none of them, victims and perpetrators alike, had two actively engaged parents with no involvement in the criminal justice system.  I just wish someone with such an influential voice would try to use it to help steer some of these kids who are crying out for support in the right direction, rather than demonizing people he undoubtedly has little-to-no contact with, and who in all events are in no way, shape, or form responsible for the massive problems in D.C.  You can read more of Jackson’s thoughts, the vast majority of which seem to focus on his antipathy towards gay marriage, here (if you want to spend your time more wisely, I can provide the Cliff’s Notes version right now: “gay people suck, but really, I have nothing against gay people.”)  Many of his almost entirely specious arguments sound disturbingly similar to the racist whites who opposed civil rights for blacks on the grounds that they were just trying to protect against the spread of values they found problematic, but who were in fact using the centuries-old tactic of scapegoating the “other” to distract from wholly unrelated social ills.  You could certainly go back to 1960 and replace “interracial marriage” with “gay marriage” in virtually any argument Jackson puts forth, and it would carry just as much water.


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