WASHINGTON (Circa) — George Mason, senior pastor at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, is going viral after urging his congregation to protest the death of Botham Jean.
Jean was killed in his own apartment by officer Amber Guyger who had just worked a 15 hour shift. Attorneys for Jean family have accused the Dallas Police Department of attempting to portray Jean in a negative light after releasing an affidavit saying marijuana was found inside his apartment.
"This police officer shot an unarmed citizen in his own home. The victim was black, the officer white. Even if race didn't factor into the event initially, nonetheless, the preferential treatment of the officer by the criminal justice system reminds us that justice in this city, in this country is still not colorblind - whether you are white or black or brown or blue," Mason said. "And then the smear campaign of the dead man's character started immediately after his funeral, which is a long and nasty practice used against people of color to gain sympathy for the defendant. Lord have mercy."
Mason, who was in attendance for Jean's funeral, says he went to a meeting with district attorney Faith Johnson to discuss the latest details involving the case alongside other prominent black pastors in the area including T.D. Jakes. One black preacher thanked him for attending but expressed frustration with white preachers who have "privatized the Gospel so much so it keeps our congregations from understanding that the call for justice is not optional for Christians."
"He wondered why we don't speak out more. We leave it to them. They're on their own," Mason said. "Bishop Jakes talked about how hard it is convincing the black youths in his church to stay with the Christian way of following a nonviolent Jesus when they're hearing lots of things from other people who say that's not getting us anywhere. And a culture that's dominated by white preaching that's continually defending policies that are rooted in white supremacy and racism."
Mason said the black preacher asked him and other predominantly white churches to say "clearly in your pulpits and in the streets that white supremacy and racism is wrong."
"If we want to call ourselves by the name of Jesus we have to stop defending things Jesus would condemn. And we have to start loving people like He did. It may cost us friends. It may even cost us our life. But after three days, give or take, there's always a rising with Christ," Mason said.
Activist Shaun King shared Mason's message and said, "I want to commend Dallas Pastor George Mason for these words on the murder of Botham Jean and the ugliness that has followed. This is a good example of how white pastors should be using their pulpits to talk to white people about racism and police brutality."
I want to commend Dallas Pastor George Mason for these words on the murder of Botham Jean and the ugliness that has followed.— Shaun King (@shaunking) September 18, 2018
This is a good example of how white pastors should be using their pulpits to talk to white people about racism and police brutality. pic.twitter.com/NAtd52qKhl
In a Facebook post of his own, the pastor said he was "heartened by the tremendous response to my sermon."
"That fact that my simple message appears so revolutionary for the church in America is a sign of the challenges we face," Mason said.