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Aretha Franklin funeral: How pastor’s bleak view of ‘abortion after birth’ in black America provoked fury

Some of America’s thorniest questions of race moved centre stage during the funeral of Aretha Franklin on Friday, when a fire-and-fury preacher held forth to declare that “black America had lost its soul” in a fiery eulogy that sparked anger and arguments on social media.

For more than 50 minutes, the Rev Jasper Williams Jnr, who also spoke at Franklin’s father’s funeral, described how black women were incapable of raising sons alone and why the Black Lives Matter movement could make little progress in the face of black-on-black violence.

He even used the term “abortion after birth” to describe the situation of children being raised without a father “provider” or mother “nurturer” as he railed against broken homes.

It turned an uplifting, musical commemoration for the Queen of Soul into an impromptu sounding board for some of the country’s most divisive social issues.

And it highlighted divisions among different generations about how to go about tackling racism in America.

Critics were quick to accuse the preacher of hijacking the funeral with misogyny and bigotry after he turned his fire on other black activists by asking: “Do black lives matter?

“Let me answer like this: No. Black lives do not matter, black lives will not matter, black lives ought not matter, black lives should not matter, black lives must not matter until black people start respecting black lives and stop killing ourselves, black lives can never matter.”

Mr Williams, pastor at Salem Baptist Church in Atlanta, urged black people to return to church and reserved some of his most controversial language to describe young men growing up without fathers, preaching that, “ as proud, beautiful and fine as our black women are, one thing a black woman cannot do, a black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man” .

He added: “Where is your soul, black man? As I look in your house, there are no fathers in the home no more.”

He went even further by using the term “abortion after birth” to describe the situation of children being raised with a father “provider” and mother “nurturer”.

His extraordinary display of provocative language set off a slew of angry responses on Twitter.

43 thoughts on “Aretha Franklin funeral: How pastor’s bleak view of ‘abortion after birth’ in black America provoked fury”

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