- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2007

Protesters picket BET chief’s home

A Baptist pastor has begun a series of weekend protests, demanding that media outlets and corporations stop portraying blacks in demeaning and offensive ways. The first demonstration was at the home of Black Entertainment Television’s chief executive.

More than 500 people last weekend demonstrated peacefully outside the home of Debra Lee in her quiet, stately neighborhood. They held signs and wore shirts that said “Enough is Enough” — the name of the campaign. Several security guards blocked three gates near the home.

The Rev. Delman L. Coates of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, led the protest. Members of the National Organization for Women and the head of the National Congress of Black Women joined the protest.

The group is calling on corporations to divest from programming and popular culture that sexually objectifies black women and portrays black men as “pimps” and “gangsters.” Protesters said they plan to return every weekend until Mrs. Lee addresses their complaints.

Mrs. Lee was not home during the nearly two-hour demonstration. She said she would have met with the group if they had brought their protest to BET’s corporate headquarters in Northeast Washington.

“I believe in freedom of speech, but if you really want to have an impact, the best way is to have a conversation — not to protest in front of someone’s house,” she said.

NEW YORK

Harlem church sojourns to Ethiopia

NEW YORK — Ethiopian sea traders helped free American blacks establish the Abyssinian Baptist Church nearly 200 years ago.

Now 150 church members led by their politically influential pastor, the Rev. Calvin Butts, are honoring the Harlem church’s founders with a two-week pilgrimage to the African nation to discover their spiritual roots.

“I think we will all come back better people,” one of the travelers, Doris Brunson, said. “As American blacks, we really need to understand the importance of our source. I think what we will see will be beautiful in some ways, and devastating in some ways.”

The trip is part of an 18-month bicentennial observation that will end in November 2008, the actual 200th anniversary of the church’s origin.

CHINA

Pastor out of jail in Bible crime

BEIJING — A leader of China’s underground Protestant church has been released from a three-year prison term for distributing Bibles and other religious literature without a business license, an overseas monitoring group said.

Pastor Cai Zhuohua returned to his Beijing home in good physical and mental condition, the China Aid Association said in a statement.

The association, based in Midland, Texas, said Mr. Cai had been told not to speak about his prison experience and to report to a local police station once a month.

Mr. Cai had been sentenced for “illegal business practices” after police searched a warehouse managed by Mr. Cai and found more than 200,000 pieces of Christian literature, including Bibles. China’s government-controlled church maintains a monopoly on the printing and distribution of religious literature and other church materials.

China’s atheistic communist government only allows worship in churches run by state-monitored religious associations that place love of nation above all, although millions of Christians risk harassment or worse by gathering in independent church groups, often run out of private homes.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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