Lord have mercy (literally)

Want to read the hellish Godbeat story of the day? It’s in The Washington Post, with the headline “Mississippi Turning.” Yes, it’s rather old New Journalism in its approach. Lots of one word sentences. Many. A lack of verbs. Reporter Neely Tucker hovers everywhere in that analysis way that the Post favors in its edgy Style pages.

The story is a flashback to the racist murders of the Civil Rights era and the alleged sins of one “Preacher Killen.” You could not make that name up.

The story is both inspiring and horrific and religion shows up in its best and worst forms. You’ve got to read it. Here is a sample of the latest courtroom drama, which is unfolding four decades after the bloodshed.

Up in front, Killen talks with one of his lawyers, Mitch Moran. Also, and elsewhere, talks to God, delivers words from same. Still says the deity wants black kept separate from white. Has said he wanted to shake the hand of Martin Luther King Jr.’s killer. Espouses theories that black men want to rape white women. Fond of toting shotguns. Fonder still of threatening to shoot reporters with them, particularly those who show up at his ranch-style house out in the county, way out from town. It’s out there on the old Rock Cut road, less than two miles from the murder site, lost among the red clay and pine trees.

Preacher has not changed his views. “I’m as much for separation as I ever was,” he says at one point.

Lord have mercy.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.


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