By Lonnie Wilkey
I have had countless conversations over the years with people upset with what they understood that I had written. Normally, I could help them understand what I meant with those words, but not always.
In an opinion piece, a good journalist tries to make a point and get people to think. I know that I have failed on occasion and caused more confusion than I did clarification. Hopefully, I have become a better communicator.
In the June 10 issue, my friend and colleague Chris Turner wrote an opinion piece that has been misunderstood. Chris wrote about an encounter in his neighborhood with a black teenager shortly after George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis. Chris described how the teenager avoided him with fear in his eyes because he didn’t know how Chris would react.
Chris was upset that the racial tension in our nation has reached the point that a black male teenager was afraid to go for a walk in his neighborhood. Chris simply shared the anger he felt in his heart about how racism has divided our nation and has people of all races living in fear.
Hindsight is 20/20. Chris may have been “too descriptive” in how he felt and how he wanted to express the anger he felt. But he quickly shared in the column that violence and destruction is not the answer and even said it is criminally wrong. But, a lot of people did not focus on that part of the column.
As the editor of the Baptist and Reflector, I understand the confusion Chris’ column caused some, but definitely not all, of our readers. I could have “toned down” some of Chris’ expressed anger, but I chose not to because I know Chris’ heart.
Chris is an incredible Christian who loves the Lord. He grew up under the leadership of pastor Ray Newcomb at First Baptist Church, Millington. He is a conservative, Bible-believing Christian and a prayer warrior. When I have a prayer need in my life, Chris is one of the first people I contact.
What’s more, Chris is a former Southern Baptist missionary. He has lived on the mission field and actually knows what it’s like to be a “minority.” That’s why I didn’t change his copy. I was simply trying to convey the depth of the anger he felt.
Chris has the utmost respect for law enforcement as do I. Anyone who has read the B&R for any length of time knows I have always defended our police officers.
Hear this plainly. What happened in Minneapolis was wrong and from what I have seen, I do believe it was murder and I think those police officers will be prosecuted and rightfully so.
But — and yes there is a but — we can’t judge every police officer on what some bad examples do. I have been amazed that some city leaders across our nation are calling for the abolishment of police departments. That is radical and quite frankly, insane.
If we think our nation is in chaos now, it is nothing compared to what we would have with cities with no official law enforcement. We would have the wild west all over again. Do we really want that? Of course not.
As Christians, we need to support our law enforcement officials. More importantly, we need to be more diligent than ever before to show the love of Christ to all people regardless of skin color.
We need to love others as Christ loves us. That’s ultimately what Chris Turner expressed.
As an editor, I plead with our readers to not only read the words, but try to grasp the message.
The Baptist and Reflector has a 185-year history of providing the highest journalistic standards possible. Our desire is to challenge Tennessee Baptists to grow in their faith. B&R