Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

January 16, 1985 - Image 4

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-01-16

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.



Page 4
ie tun atT n sty o M ig
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Wednesday, January 16, 1985

The Michigan Daily

Vol. XCV, No. 87

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

EACH afrEQ,.


ME~T IN jr-V

1A \ Lv ,



A capital error

The Michigan legislature is
currently considering a proposal
which would remove the ban on the
death penalty. In 1846, Michigan made
history by becoming the first gover-
nment in an English-speaking country
to outlaw capital punishment. The
state must not forget this historic
moral stance by instituting a method of
punishment that places so little value
on human life.
The basic problem with the death
penalty is that it is inconsistent.
Because of the increased attention
surrounding those on death row from
groups opposing capital punishment
and the media, no state is willing to
sentence criminals to death in every
case where such punishment would
appear justified. Instead, state gover-
nors and judges tend to limit capital
punishment to a few select cases, often
spread out over the course of time, in
order to avoid appearing too severe in
sentencing or too willing to exercise
their right to take life. This results in
inconsistent use of the penalty.
The fact that a death sentence is of-
ten an option in many cases further
illustrates the inconsistency of such
legislation. Judgements on how severe
a murderous crime must be before it
warrants putting the perpetrator to
death are made by judges based on the
circumstances surrounding individual
cases. Inevitably, these circumstances
and the way they are considered by in-

dividual judges will vary, case to case.
Giving the option of death to the
criminal justice system is putting a
very certain and definite punishment
in the hands of a very uncertain and
variable system. Mistakes are
inevitably a part of any legal system,
but when the sentence is death, there
can be no appeal. A person wrongly
convicted of a crime and sentenced to
death can in no way be compensated
for the unjust punishment he or she has
Advocates of the resolution to lift the
ban on capital punishment claim that it
is time for the Michigan Legislature to
show the state's population that is is
concerned with not only the rights of
criminals, but also those of the victims
of violent crimes. But killing a killer
helps no one. Studies of capital
punishment's effect as a crime
deterrent, while not conclusive, have
shown that the threat of facing the
electric chair is not a significant
deterrent. A person irrational enough
to commit a violent or murderous
crime will not recognize the threat of
death as a consequence.
Before the death penalty is adopted
in Michigan, voters must consider
what effect it will have on the inciden-
ce of violent crime. Since it cannot be
conclusively proved that capital
punishment decreases violent crime,
no sane government should make legal
such a barbaric and final form of





A iA
~ ,f




Teenage priests battle drugs1

Not necessarily the news

The current attempt by Jesse
Helms and the National Conser-
vative Political Action Committee to
purchase majority control of CBS Inc.
and the prospect that they might suc-
ceed are frightening.
In a large democracy such as ours,
objective sources of information are
essential in the democratic decision
making - process. Without that infor-
mation individual voters cannot even
begin to practice valid democracy.
With the growth of the nation, those
media of information have become in-
creasingly complex and irreplaceab-
le. CBS, as one of only three national
broadcast television networks makes
an effort to present the news in an ob-
jective light. No news organization can
ever achieve complete objectivity, but
it can choose to devote itself to the
search for news. However, when the
controlling interests of a news
organization put pressure on that
organization to consistently slant its
news in a particular direction, it
ceases to be a valid news organization
and becomes a propaganda mill. The
current owners of CBS have not put
that pressure on their organization.

Helms and NCPAC make it clear
that if they achieve financial control of
the network, they will not hesitate to
apply that pressure. Helms is quoted
as having written in a letter to poten-
tial investors that they could,
"...become CBS news anchorman Dan
Rather's boss." The implication of that
statement is that his reason for attem-
pting the purchase is to gain editorial
It is frightening to think that any in-
terest group would seek editorial con-
trol over an objective news
organization, but it is particularly
frightening that Jesse Helms would
be at the head o1 tnat group.- As an in-
dividual Helms has consistently shown
himself to be bigoted. He has em-
braced the intolerance of right-wing
fundamentalist religion, and for a
time, it is reported, he referred to
blacks in private conversation as
The free market system gives Helms
and NCPAC the right to attempt the
takeover, but the United States, as a
democracy, cannot afford the loss of
such a valuable medium of exchange
to a propagandistic venture.

By Louis Freedberg
Several dozen members of the
Trinity Baptist Church in
Oakland, California kneel before
the altar, as therRev. Charles
Parker holds forth in a loud
voice. "We ask the Lord to com-
fort the young woman who lost
her child. We thank Him for
bringing us together today."
Across the bay in San Francisco,
the black-gowned Rev. Reedie
Moore preaches with passion and
intensity. "They tell me of a
place, they tell me of a city called
Heaven," he tells the crowded
Macedonia Missionary Baptist
Church, his voice rising in
familiar cadences. By the end of
his sermon, members of the
congregation are on their feet
and shouting approval.
Parker is 18, Moore is 15. They
are two of a growing number of
teenage ministers who have
found a platform in black
evangelical churches-at least a
dozen in Oakland alone, more
than at any time in the recent
past, church leaders say.
They have reached extraor-
dinary prominence in a com-
munity where most young people
are left out-where the juvenile
arrest rate is twice the state
average and minority teen
unemployment, according to em-
ployment counselors, runs bet-
ween 50 and 60 percent. And
where a "drug war" has claimed
the lives of almost 40 young
people in their teens or early 20s
over the past 18 months.
Both white and black fundamen-
talist churches have a history of
young preachers, but they have
usually been found in
"storefront" or "home" chur-
ches. Albert Raboteau, professor
of religion at Princeton Univ.,
says their emergence and accep-
tance in more established black
churches is a new phenomenon,
which may reflect "a self-
conscious attack on the drug
culture, on the dead-end con-
sumerism in their communities."
The pulpit may also be one of the
few places that can rival the
drug world for excitement and
status. In The Fire Next Time,
writer James Baldwin told of
preaching at 14 in Harlem.
"Nothing that has happened to
me since equals the power and
the glory that I sometimes felt
when, in the middle of a sermon, I
knew I was somehow, by some
miracle, really carrying 'the
Word'-when the church and I
were one."
Baldwin was drawn to the chur-
ch when "without warning, the
whores and pimps and racketeers
on the Avenue had become a per-
sonal menace."It had not before
occurred to me that I could

°._7 -
I ,/~/
- ,-:
/ .-

/ _



intelligent than that."
His mother had always attended
church regularly, and Parker
says he went occasionally to
please her. Then he began to go
more frequently, and three years
ago he was licensed as a
No formal training is required to
get a license, which can be
issued, usually at no cost, by any
ordained minister. What is
required is a demonstrated
ability to preach, and a
seriousness about the church.
Parker says, "If I hadn't gotten
into the church I'd be dead by
now.." Earlier this year, Parker's
cousin, 21, was shot dead by his
roommate, a heroin addict.
Parker, who is sports editor of
his school newspaper, spends an
hour every night reading the
Bible-up to three hours when he
has to preach. He says he wants
to become a pastor, to"be a
beacon of light in the world."
The financial returns from
preaching tend to be
modest-Parker has received an
occasional "love offering" of $25
to $50. Reedie Moore, on the other
hand, once collected $997 on a
single morning.
Yet the pulpit does provide one
of the few platforms where young
people are taken seriously, as
well as a structure to counter-
balance the uncertainty in their
lives and on their streets.
Preacher Mark Smith, 16, who
lives with his grandfather at a
church in the middle of one of the
city's drug "hot spots," says a lot
of teens "respect me. They call

me 'preacher'," which has eased
some of his fears. "I feel I could
be mistaken for someone else and
get shot," he says.
Young people are also oc-
cupying the pews in greater
numbers, according to ministers
and youth program directors
throughout this city-a trend
noted by pastors in several other
major urban areas. On a recent
Sunday, teens were at least half
the congregation at Trinity Bap-
tist, where Parker was
preaching, including several who
were ushering and passing the
collection plate.
Some of these young chur-
chgoers are particularly attrac-
ted to the young preachers.
Gerron Gibson, 13, says he un-
derstands Parker because, "He
talks about designer clothes,
things like that."
Older congregants are also
drawn to the new preachers. "We
have a group of young people
saying, 'no longer will we be seen
and not heard, and no longer will
we wait for our elders to take
care of our situation'," says Rev.
J. Alfred Smith, pastor at one of
the city's most influential chur-
ches and until recently a member
of the Oakland school board.
Smith, who has been a mentor
to several teenage preachers,
says the egalitarian nature of the
black evangelical church has
provided an opening for other-
wise powerless young people.
"Here everyone is somebody,"
he says. "The ground is level at
the foot of the cross."
Not everyone in the black chur-

ch agrees. The Rev. Amos
Brown, one of San Francisco's
most influential black political
figures, dismisses teenage
preaching as 'an exercise in
showmanship, a lot of styling and
posturing without substance."
The argument reflects a
division within the black church
over the amount of formal
training needed to preach. Prof.
Stephen Reid, of the' Pacific
School of Religion, says the black
church has traditionally been
more concerned with practical
credentials than scholarly ones,
an orientation that has made it
easier for teenagers to find
receptive ears than they would in
mainline white churches.
He speculates that young
preachers may be emerging
because people feel they are in a
"crisis situation" and so the
church is more willing to revert
to its roots, "to do things they
wouldn't normally do." In fact,
he argues, young people may
have a greater impact than
adults during these times. "Part
of the persuasiveness of the
preaching lies in the sheer rarity
of someone that age having the
necessary eloquence," he says.
Says Oakland's Rev. Smith,
"Jesus told us, 'He who has ears
to hear, let him hear.' You never
know when God is raising a
Samuel among us."
Freedberg wrote this article
for the Pacific News Service.
by Berke Breathed

Ali I

aI I _ _ -r
-1 r .L
I - 't

"70 SW#~T MW JMt :1

1 151(, PAPPY


r.W /IPP rCM


Back to Top

© 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan