With the exception of a few courageous bishops, most Catholic leaders have remained silent about the mob’s destruction of the statues of the Father of California’s Catholic missions, St. Junipero Serra — replete with the callous desecration of the sacred symbol of the crucifix. It may be time now for the laity to get involved in the debate as Black Lives Matter advocates are now promising to destroy the sacred statues, religious stained glass, and revered icons that adorn Catholic churches. Claiming that the “European” depictions of Jesus are a “gross form of white supremacy,” Shaun King, one of the most well-known Black Lives Matter activists, is demanding that “they should all come down.”
Driven by anti-Catholic animus, Black Lives Matter leaders like King — a former pastor of a non-denominational church — are now demanding that all images of what King calls “white European Jesus” must be removed and replaced with images of Christ as a black man. A writer-in-residence at Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Projects, Shaun King warned more than one million of his Twitter followers that
the statues of the white Europeans they claim is Jesus should come down. They are a form of white supremacy. Always have been … All murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus and his European mother and their white friends should also come down. They are a gross form of white supremacy. Created as tools of oppression. Racist propaganda. They should all come down.
A graduate of Morehouse College, King founded the Courageous Church in Atlanta in 2009 and led the church for nearly two years, But according to BuzzFeed, after a shift to make the church less focused on traditional Sunday services and more focused on community activism proved unpopular, King stepped down. An assistant pastor attempted to assume leadership, but the church closed its doors shortly after. It appears that as far back as 2008, King was using religion as a way to encourage advocacy and activism rather than saving souls. In his abrupt departure from Courageous Church, reporters at BuzzFeed suggested that its narrative arc
mirrors the wildly ambitious goals, impressive successes, sudden collapses, and nagging questions that have defined King’s public profile since he became one of the most well-known activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. Courageous Church was one of the first of many organizations, nonprofits and start-ups that King built from scratch again and again, the unfulfilled promise of the projects left people searching for answers about King and his intentions and whether his peculiar magic as an online fundraiser was fraudulent.
King has been adept at using social media to mobilize his followers to harass innocent individuals. In 2018, King used his Twitter account to mobilize followers to “go after” a Texas Highway Patrol trooper for sexually assaulting a black woman after a traffic stop. The trooper and his family were subjected to abuse by social media users across the country for two days before the body camera footage proved the innocence of the highway patrolman.
In some ways, King is a pale imitation of the Rev. Al Sharpton. Like Shaun King, Sharpton built his career on fomenting violence related to charges of racism — often bogus. In 1987, a 15-year-old Tawana Brawley claimed she had been abducted and raped by a group of white men. Found by police with the letters KKK written on her chest and a racial epithet written on her stomach, Brawley, an African-American woman, told her lawyers that two of her assailants were NYPD officers. Rev. Al Sharpton became one of her most outspoken supporters and mobilized the community against law enforcement. Even after the incident turned out to be a hoax, and Brawley was revealed to have lied about the attack — writing the KKK letters on her own body — Sharpton continued for decades the narrative of corrupt law enforcement officers targeting and abusing Black citizens in New York City.
Like Sharpton, King is adept at marshaling public sentiment against those he wants to destroy — even when those he is attacking are innocent. But in some ways King is even more effective because he is young and articulate and can reach more than one million Twitter followers with a single post. When a seven-year-old African-American child was gunned down while riding in a car with her mother and siblings, King mobilized his Twitter followers once he learned that the mother of the child, LaPorsha Washington, alleged that the shooter was white. Mounting a private investigation of his own into the murder, King posted a picture of Robert Cantrell, a white Houston resident that King described as a “racist, violent assh–e,” and asked followers to find a way to indict Cantrell by posting, “What more can you tell me about Robert Cantrell?” He had no evidence that Cantrell had done anything, but like the Stalin-era secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria famously said, “Bring me the man, I’ll find you the crime.”
Cantrell was arrested on a different crime a few days after the child’s murder, and he was held even though he had nothing to do with the drive-by shooting. King’s postings caused Cantrell and members of his family to receive death threats. And as it turned out, Cantrell was innocent and King was wrong not just on the identity of the child’s killers, but also their race. Eric Black and Larry Woodruffe — both African Americans — were arrested a few weeks after Cantrell was arrested and both faced capital murder charges. Cantrell died a broken man in 2019 from an apparent suicide after hanging himself in his jail cell.
Like Sharpton, Shaun King has left a trail of destruction in his wake. In 2015, journalists attempted to expose financial malfeasance, but he quickly quelled the attempt by threatening legal action. Still, some courageous reporters at the Daily Beast exposed his failed Haiti fundraisers and the money raised for the family Tamir Rice, a young African American who was fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer. As it turned out, attorneys representing Rice’s family had been unaware of King’s fundraising, and the money King raised was eventually seized by the court, turned over to the estate, and finally distributed to the family. Those who pointed this out found themselves the target of lawsuits.
King’s promises of destruction are real, and they should be taken seriously. Many Catholics have asked their bishops to intervene. In some ways, it is understandable that bishops may be reluctant to become involved. When Oakland, California’s Bishop Michael Barber was not viewed as sufficiently supportive of the Black Lives Matter protests, he was accused of racism by one of his own Catholic priests. Fr. Aidan McAleenan, the pastor of St. Columba Church — a Church with a largely Black congregation — told reporters that when he urged Bishop Barber to “take action” in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, the bishop allegedly dismissed his concerns. And although Bishop Barber’s spokesperson denies this, the damage to the Bishop’s reputation has been significant.
Oakland’s Pastor Aidan McAleenan has already done that by personally commissioning a new Black Jesus for his St. Columba Church. According to press reports, for the past 12 years he has served as pastor, Fr. McAleenan has also hand-carved an African symbol for God, hung pictures of Black saints, and painted the faces of Black angels he bought from Costco. If Black Lives Matter’s Shaun King has his way, all Catholic churches will be forced do the same.
As Twitter continues to ban African Americans like Candace Owens and other reasonable conservative voices, Shaun King is given free rein to use his Twitter account to ruin the lives of innocent people. His Twitter demands to desecrate Catholic churches by demolishing the sacred symbols that Catholics cherish need to be taken seriously as he has the power to destroy and few have the will to stop him.