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Are You the Light of the World?

There’s an old saying that politics and religion don’t go together.  Someone should post that reminder at the door of the Light of the World Church.   At an ecumenical service slated to kick off  Indiana Black Expo this week, Bishop T. Garrett Benjamin took the opportunity to not only engage the audience, but also take a couple political shots at the Mayor while heaping praise on his challengers in next year’s elections.

The Bishop reportedly told the audience that the Mayor was “not their guy” and when he referred to Melina Kennedy and Jose Evans he said “it was good to see brothers and sisters running for Mayor.”  Please note, neither Evans not Kennedy stayed for the entire service, but Ballard did.

The Bishop also encouraged the audience to attend a scheduled march on Monday to protest the excessive force used against Brandon Johnson.

Shortly after the service the Mayor spoke with Benjamin about his remarks.  The bishop reportedly told Ballard that he had to be tough because there were people “who wanted to burn the city down” and he had to appease them.

We all have our opinions about the Brandon Johnson case.  Regardless, the pulpit is not the place to play politics, especially with the people who’ve reached out to you.  There is a time and place for everything and that was neither the time nor the place.

I’ll have more to write about this tomorrow when I ask will the real black leadership in this town please stand up?

  • IndyAries

    Well, I might as well kick this off….

    Why don't we ever hear about white people wanting to “burn the city down” when beaten by police, or by blacks?

    Witness the rioting, looting, assaults, etc., occurring in Oakland, California.

    I'm trying to remember the last time there was a 'white riot' caused by similar circumstances.

  • Pascal

    Recall a population that is one standard deviation down?

  • Think Again

    Riots are destructive, whomever causes them, Aires.

    And I'm not sure i understand the standard deviation comment, Pascal.

    Here is Tom Benjamen's problem: he thinks he's Lord-God-Almighty and spokesman for all African American folks. He's a shameless self-promoter, and he thinks the entire black Indy populace hangs on his every word.

    About 3000 members of his church do hang on his every word. Good for them. They made that choice. Tom has made choices, too.

    He hired Mmoja Ajabu to be on his pastoral staff. Mmoja is famous for verbal bombs. Everyone deserves a second chance, but maybe Mmoja needed a second chance in Akron or Tampa or Denver…not here. And anyone who's ever heard Mmoja talk, has heard fractured grammar and thoughts, akin to those of the deputy mayor.

    I don't have a huge problem with Tom's words–in another venue. But, this is the Palace That Tom Built. He's more than half-right about this particular situation, but there's plenty of room for intelligent convo. It won't come form Tom. Never does. Never will.

    But he sure eats well. And lives well.

  • Southsider

    Re: 'burn the city down' if memory serves correctly, there is/was a black IMPD officer arrested for arson and suspected of other set fires. And wasn't there black/white families displaced in one of the fires??? I don't remember any 'outrage'.. just a news story and then it was over.
    Is it a coincidence now that a lawsuit is being filed or filed against the city of another charge of excessive force in 2009…. just prior to Black Expo and Sharpton's appearance?

  • Dave

    Misanthropy exists in many forms; anarchy & excessive force are but two, of the innumerable, transactional EXCUSES for hatred. There's also statism, despotism, racism, , elitism, classism…

    Politics & religion aren't mutually exclusive. However, they ought be exclusive of appeasing violence. It's incumbent upon folks like the Bishop, to speak directly & in the spirit, to those he's concerned about. Appeasement is the unwitting act of escalation, of target painting. The Bishop can and should do better (we've seen him do it), for his congregation and our community.

  • Rico

    And the so-called Bishop should lose his non-profit status!

  • Ramon

    Rev. Benjamin is a well known Republican member of the clergy. I think there is a message there for Ballard and Tom John.

  • Taxpayer 834512

    Thanks for tackling the topic, Abdul. There aren't many other venues to even find the possibility of a square, two-way debate on something like this.

    Any time the count gets up to X number of people and there is money involved, my guess is “politics” is involved in anything.

  • BH


    Please explain or expand on this comment.

    Bruce Henry

  • Blackfemaleattorney


    Ballard set the stage for Rev. Benjamin to speak on his Mayoral performance. If you'll recall, Abdul, because I encouraged you to participate, Ballard took full advantage of the Light of the World Church during the mayors campaign when we had a debate at the church. Also, Ballard 'dumped' black AND white leadership along with all those who supported him, for “Minister” LOL, Olgin Williams and the baptist minister alliance who I refer to as Fred Sanford, Leroy, Bubba & Skillet.

    Ballard has spent his entire campaign so far pandering to these jack-leg preachers with our crime prevention dollars, contracts, jobs and leadership positions.

    So…those he USED to get into office are speaking and have a RIGHT to speak. He can't have it both ways. Yes, it's a double edged sword and a pill he'll have to swallow. It WON'T get any better either, because 4 years of shafting hurts.

    As for riots, I'm surprised it hasn't happened yet, unfortunately in the LONG RUN it worked wonders for blacks in L.A. Now, when black leadership speaks, the Mayor 'listens closely and responds appropriately'. When blacks in Indianapolis decide, “if we can't can have any, no one can” … they'll ALWAYS be deprived. Lets hope black Indianapolis finds a better way then LA did.

  • Abdul

    Everyone is free to speak, but when you use the pulpit to play politics, you put the entire church in jeopardy. I hope it's worth it.

  • Nick

    Non Profits receive special tax exempt treatment in exchange for following governing rules that include not endorsing politicans or political parties.

    The IRS should immediately revoke this churches non profit status for violating the law.

    This is a clear violation which is most likely on video as evidence.

  • Think Again

    Riots helped blacks in LA? I missed that page of history, BlackFemale.

    But I'm with you on the Deputy Mayor. Jibberish evidently works as a functional language.

  • Think Again

    It won't help, Bruce. He's in a parallel universe.

  • Wilson46201

    Rev. T.G. Benjamin has been in the pulpit and politics long enough to know both the IRS & FEC regulations about politics and tax-exemption. He's no fool – he said nothing actionable by the IRS

  • pascal

    I'm trying to remember the first Christian who ever worried about his tax exempt status. Not Peter, Not Paul, Not Matthew, nor Luke, nor John nor any of the Saints, Fathers, Popes, Bishops of olden times. Changing a stupid IRS rule ought to be accomplished.

  • Nick

    You may be right Wilson. I know several churches in the”community” are actually organized as “for profit” enterprises.

    This may be a huge surprise to some of the church membership.

    Reminds me of the old Ray Stevens song “Would Jesus Wear A Rolex”

  • http://hoosiersforfairtaxation.blogspot.com/2010/07/common-sense-solution-to-citys.html Melyssa

    In that summer I led property tax rallies and Light of the World wanted me to help promote the tax forums at their church, I asked to speak to the Bishop. I was told “it don't work that way” and I could not speak to this man. Are you kidding me?

    I asked wasn't the Bishop the preacher of the church? Then I asked, since when can't a person speak to the preacher? I was told I had to go through his people and talk to them instead.

    LOL. At least he'll talk to the mayor.

    Anyone know how much money went to the Bishop since Ballard took office?

  • http://hoosiersforfairtaxation.blogspot.com/2010/07/common-sense-solution-to-citys.html Melyssa

    Both the kid and the officers were in the wrong. Both sides need to accept responsibility for their actions and we need to move beyond this.

  • Rico

    No, Wilson, he's just been around long enough to know that nobody in the justice dept. (especially this justice dept., seeing how 'Bishop' Benjamin is black) has the moral courage to call him on it.

  • Wilson46201

    “pascal” might try reading the Bible instead of fulminating. Try Matthew 22:15-22 , Mark 12:13-17 or Luke 20:20-26. It's a very famous passage about taxes !

  • Taxpayer 834512

    We don't seem to lack feudal kingdoms of every demographic around here.

  • pascal

    Is that the one where Matthew invites a black racist thug with blood on his hands to address his flock?

  • Indy4U2C

    It seems to me that IRS regulations prohibit a non-profit from endorsing a political candidate. I'd like to send documentation of what T. “Collection Plate” Benjamin did to the IRS along with a request to interpret the regulation on non-profits endorsing a political candidate.

  • Wilson46201

    So what's stopping you from sending in that documentation to the IRS? Go ahead and do it!

  • Indy4U2C

    Please provide it, Wilson! (ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!) In fact, if you provide it, I will send it! –like, I'm sure you would provide it…NOT!

  • Rmoney

    Abdul –
    Do you have someone in mind for this so called Black Leadership position?

    What is this so called Black Leadership supposed to accomplish?

    My guess is that you will use tomorrow's discussion as another opportunity to spew every single negative statistic about the black community you can think of as a reason why the black community shouldn't identify and call out injustices when they happen.

    I hope that I am wrong, but I don't think I am.

    As far as Benjamins comments if people on this board think he should lose his tax exempt status then they should file whatever complaints and paperwork they need to do to contest his status. Beyond that you all sound like a bunch of crybabies.

  • Rmoney

    Refresh my memory how was the kid wrong??? If I remember correctly he “so called mouthed off to the police officer”
    He was put into handcuffs and then the cop beat the crap out of him so much that other officers had to tell him to stop

    The issues wasn't with why he was arrested it was the brutality of the arrest didn't match the crime.

    So let's not just say they both were in the wrong, because that isn't the case.

  • Rmoney

    IndyAries – Well when police don't beat the crap out of white people then they usually don't want to burn the city down.

    Just show me the stories about white people getting beat up or accidentally killed by police/safety officers because he thought he was pulling his taser then maybe black people wouldn't think it is about race when we are beat by the police.

  • Rmoney

    You mean to tell me White clergy don't know this either. It is a special case because Bishop Benjamin is black.

  • Rmoney

    Abdul – Could you provide a little more context about the comment. I wasn't there but neither were you. Is it possible that some of the meaning of the quote was lost in translation?? Just a possiblity.

    “Not your guy” – Could have meant the mayor isn't going to solve these issues for us and we need to look at we can to to address the issue.

    Just saying it might not be as clear cut as your posting makes it seem.

  • Rmoney

    Did this hurt your feelings?? You didn't get to talk to Bishop Benjamin, so what.

    Was he important to what you were doing. Sounds like you were setting up a place for people to talk about the tax issues correct??

    Was there not someone in the entire church that could help you with this? Something tells me that Bishop is pretty good at prioritizing his time and delegating task that he doesn't need to be invovled in.

    This definitely doesn't sound like something he needed to spending his time on.

    Wipe your tears and move on.

    I am sure there is a list somewhere that has who has received what amount of money. Why don't you go dig it up for us.

  • Blackfemaleattorney

    It helped because when their black elected officials speak, the Mayor listens and the Mayor cannot by-pass black elected officials by simply paying ministers our tax dollars to keep the flock docile, as Rev. Benjamin is alluding that he has the ability to do.

  • IKnowThemBoth

    Blackfemaleattorney is really Darla Williams. She and Rico worked on Eric Dickerson's Congressional campaign together.

  • Taxpayer 834512

    I think Straub's investigation looked at it pretty well: a guy lost his job, procedures and training appear to be changing, the kid (thankfully) doesn't appear to be permanently damaged, and the least amount of attention is over what started the whole thing- the brother's break-in. But, at this point, I hope the Federal investigation gets in, gives their two cents, and it's over. Only when this gets escalated as far as it can go is when somebody stops trying to make a buck on it. Justice and changing procedures, I get. The making a buck on it is unfortunately as commonplace and onerous as politicians making sure the “right” firms gets the government contract so they can get reelected.

  • John Howard

    Kenneth Copland, Jimmy swaggart, Joel Osteen, Charles Stanley, Jim Baaker, Jerry Falwell, … the list goes on.

    Los Angeles' Eugene Scott would sit for hours in front of the camera under a spotlight and do NOTHING but demand people send him money.

    Creflo Dollar, while using the more conventional delivery style, seems to be taunting the audience with his intentions via his intriguing name.

  • John Howard

    Let's review: Church want's activist to aid their tax forums. Activist wants to speak to the church's minister before committing. Church says, 'it don't work that way.'

    Really? Was Benjamin too busy going from home to home to minister to invalids and the poor?

  • IndyAries

    Why are the feds involved? What federal law did any of these officers allegedly violate?

    Seems more and more that our state officials are more than happy to abdicate their authority to the feds.

    I don't want to be like Washington, D.C., which is RUN by the feds (Congress).

    Constitutionally, the feds were given very little 'police power'. Politicians and lawyers in robes expanded federal police power to the ridiculous point it's as now.

    Mama's little joy was abused by a Citizen of Indiana. Indiana government did it's job. There was no 'interstate commerce' involved.

    Why again are the feds involved?

  • Abdul

    The feds would investigate any possible violation of Brandon Johnson's civil rights as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

  • Neighbor

    At least the Bishop doesn't have a backyard full of trash that he refuses to clean up and then the taxpayers have to pay to have the mess removed.

  • IndyAries

    Abdul, I know 'why' feds get involved. I was wondering why in this particular instance. Precisely what civil right may have been violated? The right not to be slammed onto the street or sidewalk?

  • IndyAries

    Wow !!! This means that white people are too smart to get beaten by police…………..or, it means that you don't know jack about this topic.

    Which is it?

    “Just show me the stories about white people getting beat up or accidentally killed by police/safety officers because he thought he was pulling his taser then maybe black people wouldn't think it is about race when we are beat by the police.”

    Really? You're now saying that ALL of the riots, which includes rape, robbery, assault, arson, theft, etc, that have committed by blacks, are ALL as a result of someone getting shot vice tasing?

    The 'perception' that I have is that some folks simply look for an excuse to 'riot' — any excuse will suffice.

    Here's a novel idea….if you're pissed at the police, why not riot against them, instead of innocent civilians.

    Opppssss………”cops got guns…..can't go after them!!”

  • Abbashealing

    Some of the real men of God in the Black community, whom the ministers alliance probably cannot stand, are as follows:
    Pastor Simmons, Berean Bible Church;
    Pastor Robinson, Greater Northwest Baptist Church;
    Pastor Dodson, Trinity Baptist Chruch.
    These men are upright, have no moral shame, and speak the truth in love, but unequivocally. You should have them on your show!
    Secondly, if the police are rough with criminals, I've seen them throw White drug dealers around like matchstix. I heard of a pregnant White lady, who was in a houseful of crooks, when the cops came in to arrest them. In the ensuing fray, baby was miscarried. The White community figures, you're an idiot to be pregnant in a houseful of fools, anyway. (Like, get out!) No outcry. Just the way it goes when you live like that. If the cops had been Black, who knows? Maybe there would have been the same reaction as Black folks have when the cops are White.
    Secondly, or thirdly, by God's grace I taught my seven mixed children, to watch the arrests by the police. They saw them rough up crooks. Then, I told them, it's worse behind bars, where only criminals live. That you get raped and beaten and nobody cares. Then, I informed them if they committed a crime, I'd turn them in, and I would NOT bail them out. How many kids does this mom have in jail? After three abusive marriages and inner-city homeschooling next to drug houses and etc? None, yet. They are all working and making their way thru life, 17-32 yrs. old. Do they like me? no. Do they know I don't play that? yes. To live in my house you have to attend a Bible-preaching church and pay something, whatever you can. They are all independent or on their way, they love each other – if not me! – and help each other every way they can.
    Not a perfect life, I'm on my third divorce from a violent man. My husbands were Black men, and little help was offered me. White people were like, u shouldn't have married a Black man. Black people were and are saying, White women always lie about our men, he didn't do that to you.
    All I can say is, God is good and faithful and righteous and I'm glad He saved me and made me His child at 28 yrs of age. Thank God!!! or I'd be just another ninny looking wild and raising monsters.
    Gotta walk with the King to be a blessing!!! love you all!!!!!!!!!!
    Some day, I hope to help White mothers of mixed kids who are abused. Nobody but nobody believes us or cares.