Saturday, August 30, 2008
By Gregory Kane
IT'S THE sheer spunk of the woman that I like.
Lainie Dowell, who will open her own church in Howard County on May 10, backs down from no one. The Rev. John Wright of First Baptist Church of Guilford in Howard County had her tossed out of the congregation in August 1992 for allegedly "disrupting" the service. Police escorted her from the property. Dowell says her only crime was "refusing to shut up and do as I was told."
See what I mean? Spunk. How can you not like the spunk of a woman who writes about liberal black leadership:
"If I owned NIKE, I would take every sneaker I ever made and kick their holier-than-thou butts because they use 'black' as a badge to pick on 'whitey' and cry foul when the brother points out the specks in their eyes," she wrote in an essay.
In January 1990, Dowell fired off a testy letter to Benjamin Hooks, then executive director of the NAACP, protesting "sexism in the black Baptist churches in the U.S." and charging the Rev. Emmett Burns, then a regional official of the NAACP, with excluding female pastors.
In July 1993, she sent a letter to then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer, portions of which are reprinted below:
"Dear Governor Schaefer:
Several years ago, I wrote to tell you, Mayor Kurt Schmoke and Rev. Dr. Benjamin Hooks that the problems we have across our state and this nation among the African-American population have been caused, primarily, by the lack of accountability of the NAACP and the black Baptist ministers, many of whom are in top leadership positions within the NAACP.
"Who oversees the accountability of the NAACP? To whom do the black Baptist ministers answer for accountability? These black leaders need to get their own houses in order before they are allowed to continue to snoop in other business and government files and shout them down in public about their discriminatory practices when they discriminate in the worst way with impunity and have been doing so for years. They are the new 'untouchables,' the black mafia who go underground, lie, cheat and steal and will look you in your eye and lie about what they have done."
Dowell considers herself a prophet. In this case, she was indeed prophetic. Soon the Rev. Ben Chavis - now Nation of Islam Minister Benjamin Muhammad - was head of the NAACP. He was ejected under a cloud of scandal and accused of misusing NAACP funds. The Rev. Henry Lyons, president of the National Baptist Convention USA, has been charged with theft and racketeering and accused of taking church money for his personal use. Dowell apparently wasn't just whistling Dixie in her letter to Schaefer. But her critics dismissed her as something of a loony.
Actually, she's more like the women prophets in Ayi Kwei Armah's novel "Two Thousand Seasons" who urged African men to abandon sexism, corruption and slavery before they destroyed their society. The men didn't listen, with disastrous results.
Dowell has long challenged the sexism she sees in the Baptist church.
In 1992, the Rev. T.J. Jemison was president of the National Baptist Convention USA and came under fire for kowtowing to Mike Tyson - then accused of rape - to get a large donation. Dowell was interviewed by the Washington Post about the matter.
Jemison's support of Tyson, Dowell said, was "typical of the sexism black women encounter regularly from some Baptist clerics" and "illustrates a continuing lack of regard for women."
Wright chided her after the April 1992 article appeared, Dowell recalled.
"Only the pastor speaks for the church," Dowell remembers Wright telling her. Then, according to Dowell, he wanted to know if she had contacted the Post or if it had contacted her.
"I don't have to tell you that," Dowell says she answered. "You don't tell me when you talk to the press."
With two wills this strong, a parting of the ways seemed inevitable. Wright is known for having more than a bit of spunk himself. The Dowell-Wright clash shows what happens when irresistible spunk comes up against immovable spunk.
A Howard County court handed down an injunction that prevents Dowell from setting foot in Wright's church, one she has sought to have lifted on grounds that her removal was unjust and based on falsehoods.
For those wondering why she doesn't simply forget about the injunction and move on, she has a revealing answer.
"I'm a pit bull on matters of injustice," Dowell said. "I'm not going to turn it loose until it's the way it's supposed to be."*
Source: The Sunday Sun, Baltimore, MD. Pub Date: 04/19/98.
*I pursued Justice in all these church cases (1992- ) and, on Monday, July 1, 2013, I finally received Certificates of Expungement of all those false charges the FBCG church brought against me in the Justice system! Those records were totally wiped out, as God is my Judge and Provider, in whom I trust for all things in my life.
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