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An Open Letter to Bishop T.D. Jakes

July 24, 2013

Here’s the deal….I saw T.D. Jakes in an interview on CNN and was shocked to hear the things he said regarding the George Zimmerman case…so, I quickly tweeted my disappointment. I actually forgot about the tweet until hours later when I noticed that he had retweeted it to his rather large audience and many of his fans proceeded to let me know they didn’t appreciate what I said and many questioned what I was referring to…here is the tweet and my response in an open letter to the Bishop follows.

July 24, 2013

Bishop T.D. Jakes
c/o The Potter’s House
Dallas, TX

Dear Reverend,

This is not a letter I planned to write. I don’t write to famous people because, the chances of them reading what I have to say is the same as winning the lottery, so I generally don’t waste my time.

However, since my tweet about you did get your attention, enough for you to take the time to retweet it to all your followers, I guess I have some ‘splainin’ to do. I should explain because, whatever your intention in retweeting it, the result was a torrent of your ticked off fans raining down their displeasure with me.

My tweet was simple. I expressed disappointment in an interview that I had just seen with you on CNN re: the George Zimmerman case and quite honestly, it was simply a “venting” tweet because I never imagined you would even see it (being a famous, wealthy, and important minister.) Also, I don’t even have very many Twitter followers, so the chances of anyone seeing it was pretty nil. Had I known you would personally see it, I would have sent the message to you privately. It was not intended in any way to try to air grievances with someone without privately letting them know beforehand. Just so you know, it wasn’t meant to call you out in public, even if that’s what the result ultimately was.

Because of the said tweet, I have been inundated with questions about my statement. I will answer those now.

The interview that I was alluding to in the tweet was one where you said a number of things that bothered me. I understand that you have a right to your own opinion. You do not have a right to your own facts. My opinions are seen by 12 Twitter followers. Yours are heard by the 30,000 in your church, plus the millions who hear you on TV.

In the interview, you referred to the Martins and their son’s death from a senseless act of violence. You referred to that act of “senseless” violence, NOT being on the part of their son, Trayvon, but solely on George Zimmerman.

 Again, you have a right to your opinion, but as a minister, to gloss over the glaringly obvious in attempts to smear a man is at best disingenuous and at worst utterly deceitful. You seem to be saying that assaulting someone and beating his head on the concrete is not senseless violence, but someone defending themselves from that attack is senseless violence.

So what should Zimmerman have done… just lain there and taken his beating like a good non-black person and ended up dead, or in the hospital with brain damage?  Tell me something, if he had, would you have devoted an entire Sunday sermon  on the injustice of it all?  Would you be appearing on talk shows to weigh in on “senseless” violence?

You then went on to say this wasn’t really about race and you said “I don’t think it’s as much about skin as it is about right. More and more people are on different sides of this perspective because we don’t think with our skin, we think with our hearts.”

Thinking with our hearts does not always produce honest results. It can antagonize a bad situation, especially when the truth is not as prevalent on an issue as are the lies surrounding it. Maybe as a minister, you should encourage people to think with their heads also?  You know, it’s like when you counsel abused women to do the smart thing, instead of just following their hearts? See, using your head over your heart is not always a bad or uncompassionate thing.

I would also ask, where is YOUR heart on this?  Have you taken just a minute and stopped to consider what if what Zimmerman said was correct? Did you consider that if his accounts of things are correct, then you are attempting to assassinate the character of a fellow Christian and stomp him while he is down and promoting the idea that an innocent man should spend life in prison? Is it possible that you have overlooked evidence in this case in favor of your “heart thinking”? And from that, you have also chosen to believe one witness out of dozens. So not only have you ignored another HUMAN BEING in this situation, you have gone out of your way to do so. Yes, Zimmerman is a human being just like the Martins and just like their son.

Also, you obviously looked at all the evidence and watched all the testimony and sat down and reasoned out the whole situation before weighing in as a minister, didn’t you? Surely you had to have, knowing the influence you have on others and your concern for the truth. So, assuming you did, did you listen to the policewoman talk about Zimmerman’s devastation when he learned of Martin’s death? Did you listen to her has she discussed his concern about taking another life (which was not his intention, obviously, if he was surprised)? Did you listen to the testimony about his immediate reaction being one of concern about his faith? Does that sound like a monster to you?

Did you check Zimmerman’s past and notice that he’s not perfect? Did you also notice that in recent years, he had begun to grow out of some of that nonsense and become a contributor to society as opposed to a menace? Did you take note of the young black teens that he mentored in the community? Did you notice his concern for the safety of others in his community regardless of their skin color?

Did you see his apology to the Martin family over a year ago, which was televised? Did you see his response about how it bothered him that Trayvon was so young?

If you DID see and hear these things, then did you choose not believe them? I don’t know of a Christian that can see and hear those things that would feel they are being deceived. Did you decide to bestow judgment on Zimmerman, deciding on your own that he was deceiving everyone by saying he never intended to kill anyone, that he was sorry that he had to and that he was grappling with his own faith because of it?

Or did you believe Zimmerman was sincere and then chose to ignore it and take the popular position so as not to offend some people?

You said the case wasn’t so much about skin or race, but about right and wrong…then you went on to say this:

“The greater thing here is an opportunity to bring to the open and forefront some of the disparities that exist amongst minorities and we have to fight for that because it is very, very important that all people have equal access to the law, fair representation on the jury and that we engage in the judicial process that’s critical for all Americans.”

So is it or is it not about race? You seem to have a little doublespeak going on.  Feel free to correct me.

And what does a fair representation on the jury have to do with this? Who wasn’t represented fairly on the jury? You do understand that the Constitution guarantees a jury by your peers right? You also understand that the Constitution makes it clear this is referring to the DEFENDANT, right?  As in, the only person the jury was supposed to be the peers of was George Zimmerman.   So why would you even bring that into the discussion, unless you are intentionally trying to put out the vibe that Zimmerman should be in prison and the system is unfair and that is why he isn’t?  

You do understand that you have a huge audience that would hear you say that and believe you have your facts straight and never actually check for themselves don’t you? Do you also understand that it could cause them to become enraged and not even attempt to respect the process because you have put out the notion that the process is so unfair and always against them?

What you fail to tell them though is that Trayvon already got a pass from the criminal justice system. He wasn’t prosecuted in Miami or even charged because of a massive attempt to cover up crime in the school/community. He was never charged for vandalism, burglary or drug possession. Three crimes he got away with, with only a slap on the wrist from his school in the form of suspension. I wouldn’t even bring it up, except I need to prove that the system was overly fair to Trayvon Martin, and ironically, that led to his death.

I am not saying Trayvon was not a victim.  He certainly was.  He was a victim of disconnected and permissive parents that failed to teach a sense of responsibility and values, and a respect for adults.  I have sympathy for parents who have lost children.  My heart goes out them.  But, in their grief, they have been dishonest several times in an attempt to put a man in prison for life just clean up their own kid’s reputation.  I simply don’t understand how you can endorse that obviously very unChristlike behavior on the part of the parents. 

Trayvon was a victim in that he was a kid that was suspended from school and was allowed to stay home alone (while his dad went out for fun), allowed to go out alone, given spending money to do it with by his father and with no apparent curfew.  Then, his father had his girlfriend call the juvenile justice center when he was missing to see if anyone named “Trayvon Martin had been picked up”…he then called the Sheriff’s department to see if “any kid had been picked up”.

So there you have it. Even his father assumed he was in some trouble. No parent, when their child is missing, has the thought to call a juvenile detention center first, unless their son had a reputation for causing trouble. His father was aware of his son’s delinquent behaviors and what was he doing about it? Did he put as much effort into being a father to his son before he died, as he has being a “father” since his death? Yes, Trayvon, tragically was a victim.

He was also a victim of liberal policies that have failed the black community for over 50 years. Policies that have been put in place by people that you openly support.

But, I have to hand it to you, you have recognized the need to focus on families in the black community and are doing something about it. You have a mega event planned for August to address the issues plaguing families in the black community.  To help teach others how to fix those problems, you are bringing in a celebrity to teach “life classes”…a celebrity who has lived with her boyfriend out of wedlock for over 20 years.

I do not like to criticize people who are doing things in an attempt to help others, because I am full aware that criticism follows anyone attempting to do good things, as I have personally have experienced it many times.  I wouldn’t even be mentioning or critiquing you on it, but you decided to announce my disappointment to the world and I am left to explain.

Just remember when you feel beat down trying to do good things and you make mistakes along the way….

remember….that George Zimmerman was also trying to help others, protect them and serve his community.

George was as much about helping others as you are sir.


Jill Brown

*****I have not sourced the factual claims made in this article because I know that you have researched this already and are aware of all the facts of the case. However, if there is anything you need a source for, please let me know and I’ll be happy to provide it.*****

  1. Sue Hoffman/ permalink

    Applause for you!! I have not heard it put so eloquently before. I wish your letter could be read in all the newspapers.

  2. Jill,

    Had to stop over here too and say, “Thank you”.

    A minister forgetting his primary responsibility to show Jesus Christ to others in every circumstance never works out well in the end when he or she sides with their own prejudices and their actions are dependent upon what they think others will hate to hear. The focus isn’t on the Lord anymore, it’s on you as you grasp for acceptance of worldly ideas and fear rejection by people. When God’s people do this it is a signal that there is a serious need for repentance and re-focusing…however, this type of action requires a humble, willing, and open heart to the Spirit…to which it must yield.

    But sadly, most celebrity ministers, however large or small their celebrity is, rarely look back or seemingly with true introspection…they continue to pander rather than ponder.

    Sure, we all make mistakes, but when four or a dozen…or even 7 million are following you, your Christian responsibility is neither less nor more required…the standard of the Bible and the example of Jesus Christ is the same every day, for everyone, no matter how many or how few are following you around.

    It doesn’t matter how known or unknown you are…no one is exempt.
    A true man or woman of God will stay centered and focused on healing and forgiveness…and nothing else–not when souls and peace hang in the balance…

    “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn-bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.”
    ~Matthew 7:16-18

    Peace, stand strong and stand uprightly.

    Love you,


  3. Awesome! I, too, lost respect for Mr. Reverend after reading your tweet and all of his defensive comments. I am fully aware that he is a man, capable of making mistakes as all of us are, but to take a tweet like that and spread it across the world and continue to defend himself in such a childish manner was quite shocking. He is entitled to his beliefs; but so are you and I. And you were correct in the fact that it is okay for him to state his “beliefs” but not okay for him to spread facts that are not true. Especially someone with so many looking to him for truth. You expect it from the media and anyone believing the media deserves to be deceived. But you don’t expect it from a minister. What happened to forgiveness? You can’t get up and preach something you don’t live.

    I am very disappointed. But nothing surprises me these days.

    Very good response! I applaud you, Jill.

  4. Debbie Black permalink

    Heart-thinking will get you into deep trouble. The Word of God tells us that our hearts are deceitful and wicked and we can’t know all that’s in them. Therefore looking into His Word instead of our “hearts” will yield much more wisdom, understanding, humility and forgiveness. We are each entitled to our beliefs, since we were given free will in the beginning. However, there are consequences to leading people down the wrong path regardless of whether you call yourself a parent, a minister, a victim, etc. There are no levels of importance at the foot of the cross. There are no levels of God’s love. Trayvon Martin is of no less and no more importance than George Zimmerman or T.D. Jakes. However, the responsibility that Mr. Jakes has taken on by airing his opinions in public is one of great peril if he does not base those opinions on fact and weigh them against the Word of God. Especially if he feels that God has called him to lead His people in right thinking and right living. Think twice, speak once. Less ketchup is required since you don’t have to eat your words as often.

  5. Anthoney Fryfogle permalink

    My question is did T.D. re-Tweet this? or did he even reply? or was he actually convicted by the Holy Spirit and see where he was letting the Christian community down as well as the Almighty that he preaches about. I feel that because of his position that he would need to publically apologize and clear everything up.

  6. Pat permalink

    It’s funny how you felt the need to defend a child murderer. You will be judged as well for your so called convictions.

    • First, he wasn’t convicted of murdering anyone. It’s called self defense. But, of course you know that. I will be judged for defending the innocent and defending the truth.

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