@Rodney Sampson, Executive Producer of @BibleSeriesWord for @BibleSeries, Responds To Rev. Wil Gafney’s Twitter Posts:

Wil GafneyWil Gafney ‏@WilGafney

The patriarchy patrol sent a minion onto my timeline because I critiqued a (black) man of God w/ corporately sponsored sermons.#pimpgospel

Wil GafneyWil Gafney ‏@WilGafney

@rodneysampson bible may be good news but @History‘s version @bibleseries is bad news; corporate sponsored sermons are bought & paid for

I am not the least bit surprised that History Channel found a black preacha-man to pimp/promote their series:https://bibleseriessermons.wordpress.com/jamalharrisonbryant/ …

@WilGafney @History @bibleseries Your blog had merit but your tweets RE #corporatesponsorship r false & ignorant. Seek definitive truth 1st.

@WilGafney @History @bibleseries Most Americans, including you/I, unfortunately had/have a biblical worldview based on white imagery. Yet..

@WilGafney @History @bibleseries Yet, this did not deter you, I & others from seeking liberation and definitive truth in an altered text.

@WilGafney @History @bibleseries I simply ask that u allow others to have the conversation & discover their faith first b/4 u derail it.

@WilGafney @History @bibleseries Leverage your @iamepiscopalian ordination 2 get funding 4 an accurate script that can funded by the culture

@WilGafney I simply replied to your false statements & attempt to create a platform for yourself on our website/blog, http://www.bibleseriessermons.com

Bible Series SermonsBible Series Sermons ‏@BibleSeriesWord

@WilGafney Respectully, @rodneysampson is THE exec. prod. of #bibleseriessermons. No sponsors! Purpose was inclusion/dialogue vs. isolation.

Official Response:

As a seeker of truth, open and transparent dialogue regarding Biblical antiquity, we were originally inclined to feature Rev. Wil Gafney’s blog regarding “Black Samson & White Women”  in The Bible Series executive produced by Mark and Roma Burnett and distributed by History Channel and Lifetime. My team was also internally dialoguing on how we could create a national conversation between ministers such as Rev. Gafney and evangelicals that were early advisors to The Bible Series.

Yet, her recent false tweets based clearly on a lack of knowledge and definitive research and truth lead us to believe that she is not seeking an open and inclusive dialogue and conversation regarding the lack of cultural authenticity and inaccurate historical context portrayed in the mini-series; but that she is simply on a self-promoting campaign fueled by her personal attack on those faith leaders that are participating in our Bible Sermons Project. Her erratic tweets don’t promote healthy dialogue, conversation, re-thinking or change in a dominating patriarchal religious culture where “whiteness” is synonymous with “Christianity.” It promotes herself only and why she should continue to be relevant and necessary to her audience. It promotes her platform (i.e. speaking honorariums, book advances, royalties, sponsored “religious” expeditions and mainstream opt-ed posts, etc). Who’s “pimping” the gospel?

We would encourage Rev. Gafney to seek definitive and recognizable change as it relates to racial and cultural representation within the very organization that she is ordained as a priest – The Episcopalian Church. They too perpetuate past and ongoing inaccurate and unrighteous imagery as it relates to the representation of the human species throughout Biblical antiquity, particularly their depiction of Jesus, the Christ, himself. Their quest to become a “gay affirming” church before they become a “human dignifying” church baffles me. Yet, still, there is no record of her resigning her posts, voiding her canonical benefits (tangible and intangible) and continuing forward as an independent servant of this liberating cause. Double standards forfeit authenticity and nullify respect.

Now, rather than to simply ignore the lack of color and representation of women in the mini-series, we created the conversation and dialogue directly with the executive producers (Roma Downey and Mark Burnett). We also sought permission to create an official sermon series inspired by the mini-series in order to create an opportunity for faith leaders of color and beyond to add a complimentary voice to the epic mini-series that millions have watched to date and will potentially engage for decades to come.

Authentic relationships are built over time and that is what we are doing with the Burnetts. Change is inevitable but takes time to realize and manifest. Who knows? Perhaps our process has created influence and access to those decision makers in Hollywood and entertainment based culture who seem to back their convictions with capital; and perhaps one day soon we will see an accurate depiction of Adam and Eve, Moses, Pharaoh, Joshua, Samson and Delilah, David, Mary, Joseph and Jesus (with skin of bronze and hair of lamb’s wool) on the big screen.

Until then, we are left to continue liberating our minds (intellect, will and emotions), souls, spirits and bodies with the “letter” (i.e. multiplicity of versions of the Bible that are published, distributed and available in print, film and cinema). Yet, scripture reminds us that the “letter killeth”, but the “Spirit brings life.” Spirit encourages us to seek change through revelation, connectivity, conversation, dialogue and reciprocity; not isolated pontification, un-merited attack of fellow clergy and grand-standing. Spirit demands that we seek facts before we tweet and post. Spirit demands that we seek forgiveness when our ignorance is discovered rather than #blocking.

The Word is truth because truth is precedent; no matter how it is manipulated or distorted. Just look at American chattel slavery and emancipation of its Southern slaves by President Lincoln in 1863. The same Bible that was used to enslave our people (physically, mentally, spiritually, economically) was and is being used to liberate our people physically, mentally, spiritually and economically. The truth will ultimately prevail.

Finally, remember, it is “History Channel” and not “Our Story Channel”. It is OUR responsibility to write, fund, publish and distribute our story. Accountability begins within.

Again, we welcome intelligent and meaningful dialogue and conversation. However, ignorance and verbal abuse will not be tolerated at all. Grace and peace.


Rodney Sampson Roman Collar+ Rodney Sampson
Executive Producer, Bible Series Sermons; Advisor, Mark & Roma Burnett; Creator of Kingonomics and Opportunity Hub; Prelate, International Bishop’s Conference; Co-Founder, Streamingfaith.com


6 thoughts on “Dialogue

  1. Pingback: » Response to Bible Series Sermons The Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D.

  2. Herewith is my response to Rev. Gafney’s response to my original post, http://www.wilgafney.com/2013/03/12/response-to-bible-series-sermons/

    Rev. Gafney:

    Herewith is my response to your post, http://www.wilgafney.com/2013/03/12/response-to-bible-series-sermons/

    Verbal abuse (also known as reviling) is described as a negative defining statement told to the person or about the person or by withholding any response thus defining the target as non-existent. If the abuser doesn’t immediately apologize and indulge in a defining statement, the relationship may be a verbally abusive one, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbal_abuse.

    Withstanding your enlightened and informative Blog post on “Samson and White Women in The Bible Series”, your tweets embody the definition of verbal abuse as outlined above and demonstrated by your tweets below. You essentially tweeted that we were “pimping/promoting the gospel,” called me a “minion” and stated that our sermons were “corporately sponsored.”

    “Wil Gafney ‏@WilGafney
    @rodneysampson bible may be good news but @History‘s version @bibleseries is bad news; corporate sponsored sermons are bought & paid for”

    “Wil Gafney ‏@WilGafney
    The patriarchy patrol sent a minion onto my timeline because I critiqued a (black) man of God w/ corporately sponsored sermons. #pimpgospel”

    “Wil Gafney ‏@WilGafney
    I am not the least bit surprised that History Channel found a black preacha-man to pimp/promote their series:https://bibleseriessermons.wordpress.com/jamalharrisonbryant/ …”

    While you are entitled to your opinion, your facts are wrong regarding The Bible Series Sermons project. I don’t know how many ways to say this; and I have made it clear although you insist that I haven’t. Instead of apologizing about your being wrong about this particular project, you go further and suggest very publicly that you are being abused, assaulted and disrespected. This is a serious accusation and I do not take it lightly.

    Your use of the word, “pimping” and “troll”, along with your name calling in your writings about The Bible Series is abusive and defaming. My asking a question in response to you was to point our your use of the word while simultaneously revealing how it is actually you that is salaried, “backed”, paid, branded and promoted by religious institutions, universities and media platforms – all major corporations – to espouse, teach and share your religious perspectives and opinions. For example, the Episcopal Church is bigger than Mark Burnett Productions. This remains a double standard.

    It is not abuse to research and examine a person who has publicly attempted to attack my brand, my causes and me. It is not abuse for me to defend my project while also examining your mode of operation and disclosing your hypocrisy. As a servant and follower of Christ, I would also be remised not to examine your Church’s own neglect of projecting improper images of Christ and continued lack of relevant diversity and inclusion in its senior leadership.

    I never asked you to resign as an Episcopal priest or ignore your definitive purpose in life. I simply framed a response that clearly outlines your monetization of the cause of Christ as a result of your Episcopal appointment, Lutheran professorship, booked speaking engagements and blogging. Again, to reiterate, all of these constructs are functions of legal corporates in which you either receive pay, benefits, honorariums or followers. As a servant of Christ that doesn’t take any salary or benefits from the religious organization and people I am called to spiritually serve, I consider your comments calling me “corporately backed”, “#pimppulpit” and “minion” irresponsible, offensive and abusive.

    Regarding your Blog post on “Samson and White Women”, it was quite enlightening to read and I had originally planned to share it in my team meeting as a potential teaching opportunity. However, I’m sure the Burnett’s have seen your tweets and perhaps they will reach out to you directly to engage you. However, I encourage you to learn more about the content production ecosystem and learn the differential and respective roles and responsibilities of writers, producers, actors, networks and distributors.

    Finally, as a man, husband, father of daughters and a son with a mother and grandmother, I am a champion and defender of women. I, and my organizations, have stood in solidarity with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the recent reauthorization of The Violence Against Women Act by President Barack Obama. While an undergraduate more than twenty years ago, I co-founded Tulane Men Against Rape. I take accusations of “abuse” very seriously; and with our history, many men have lost their lives, families, homes and careers after baseless accusations like these – even worse – after the woman initiates any and all contact. In other words, I had no idea who you were until you came on my timeline with your foolishness and then expect me not to have anything to say. Not only is this abuse, but also this is oppressive and a disservice to a feminist movement of which I’m sure you support and suggest that you want to be treated as equal.

    To this end, I digress from further “dialogue” with a woman who is publicly irresponsible, doesn’t apologize or repent when she is wrong and instead pretends to have no idea about that in which she is wrong. Further, I don’t want to associate with a woman – publicly or privately – who would want to move forward in any manner with a man that she has deemed as abusive and disrespectful. To me, this seems like strange fruit and cannot be trusted.

    I wish you the best in your quest for definitive purpose.

    + Rodney Sampson

  3. It is very disheartening to see a clergyman compare the Episcopal Church–one among many of the historically catholic manifestations of the Universal Church–with a production studio. To be fair, your sermon series–as theologically founded or unfounded as they may be–are corporately sponsored. The Rev. Dr. Gafney’s homilies, commentaries, and lectures are extensions of her ministry to the Church both in the congregation and in the classroom. To suggest that she is any less of a minister because she does not completely volunteer her sacerdotal and academic ministry is wildly ridiculous.

    By way of liberation, it cannot wait. You’re correct, Your Grace (the appropriate title for a prelate, no?), in suggesting that one day a mini-series will feature historically accurate biblical women and men. That, however, strikes me as a very defeatist and ultimately enslaving mindset.

    Today! Today is the day of salvation.

    Peace in the name of the One who waded through the waters of Mary’s womb, the One who died yesterday to bring liberation today. Amen.

    • Cody, it was disheartening to have an Episcopalian priest publicly call another clergyman a “pimp”; and a duly consecrated bishop a “troll” via Twitter.

      Even Dr. King spoke prophetically when he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will ONE DAY live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today. I have a dream that ONE DAY down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification ONE DAY right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and little white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.”

      Dr. King’s articulation of these futurist words are no more “defeatist” and “enslaving” than the hope I articulated in the future depiction of a mini-series or theatrical release that features men and women of color and historical culture and context in a depiction of The Bible. In fact, America had slaves and has a presented an image of a white Jesus and Biblical characters throughout it’s history.

      Your comment is oppressive and pejorative especially when writing to the son of former slaves. Perhaps you should exercise some sensitivity when posting. Trust me, you don’t have to encourage me that liberation in every area of society – including your church and mine – is overdue.

      If Rev. Gafney chooses to make a living by serving her Church, then so be it. Many of my colleagues do that. There is no condemnation here. The condemnation is when Rev. Gafney tweets erratic and erroneous statements about other clergyman and clergywomen being backed and pimped by corporations to preach their perspectives on the Bible. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black. (All puns intended.)

      Grace is for those who realize that they are not perfect.

      i am that i am,

      + Rodney Sampson

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