Aretha Franklin's Family Condemns Pastor for 'Offensive' Speech at Funeral Ceremony, While Singer Ariana Grande Prepares a Law Suit
DETROIT, MICHIGAN — September 4, 2018
Aretha Franklin's family stated that the pastor's speech at Fraklin's funeral was 'offensive and unpleasant.'
The American singer, "Queen of the Soul", died on August 16 at the age of 76 after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer.
The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr., senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church, delivered Franklin’s eulogy at her funeral at Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple on Friday.
Family, friends, musicians and religious and political leaders attended the “celebration of life” service, which was also live-streamed, with portions broadcast by major networks.
In his eulogy, Williams spoke on the state of black America, saying it had lost its soul and that Franklin was calling on her race to turn its direction around.
Williams referenced black-on-black crime and killings in particular, a talking point associated with a conservative viewpoint on racial issues.
“If you choose to ask me today ‘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,” he said.
Commenting on solo parenting, he said: “A black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man.”
“Right in your own neighborhoods, where your church is, there are struggling single moms, that don’t know what to do. That needs a man in the house through mentoring programs and parenting our children, we can turn black America around,” he said. “The Queen of Soul has spoken now, time now for black America to come back home.”
The Williams' remarks were met with wide criticism on social media and now by the family of the “Queen of Soul” with nephew Vaughn Franklin told that they considered it to be offensive and distasteful.
Later William said his remarks about black women being incapable of raising sons alone were taken out of context. In the eulogy Williams described the idea of children being raised without a "provider" father and a mother as the "nurturer" as "abortion after birth."
It is known Franklin had four sons, the first of whom was born when she was 12 years old.
In addition, during the same ceremony, the American singer Ariana Grande performed a song "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, following which Bishop spoke with words of greeting and gratitude, hugging the woman, and accidentally touching the side of her breast.
The preacher immediately apologized in an interview with AP at the cemetery where Franklin was interred late Friday.
"It would never be my intention to touch any woman's breast. ... I don't know I guess I put my arm around her," Ellis said. "Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize."
He admitted he hugged all the performers during Friday's eight-hour service, but he could never afford to touch anyone's breasts.
"I hug all the female artists and the male artists," Ellis said. "Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That's what we are all about in the church. We are all about love."
He also added that most likely he was so much influenced by Franklin's funeral, he was not himself.
That could have been the end of the story, but it wasn't. Now the Grande's relatives said they would sue the pastor if he did not publicly apologize again.
What should the poor pastor do now that he has gotten himself into such an unpleasant situation? Note that if the singer's family decides to sue him, he could face 10 years in prison.
The story comes in the wake of a recent scandal over the more than 300 "predator priests", accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 children in the Catholic church.