Official Statement

Not Perfect, The Bible Series Furthers The Conversation & Curiosity About The Bible

Black faith leaders stand resolute with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey & the “Spirit” in which the epic mini-series was created

Rodney Sampson Roman CollarBy Dr. Rodney S. Sampson, MBA: Advisor To Mark Burnett & Roma Downey; Creator of Kingonomics; Bishop, International Bishop’s Conference

I’m watching tonight’s final episode of The Bible Series. Although not perfect, I enjoyed, yet, again, the conversation about race and culture it initiated within my family.

In order to understand how African Americans can support a visual version of the Bible that perpetuates a majority white cast, one must first understand the relevance and correlation between America’s history of religion and chattel slavery (including Jim Crow laws and the perpetuation of unjust legislation and policy). For it was the intentional and unintended misinterpretation of the Bible that was taught to slaves, (i.e. “the letter” as referenced in 2nd Corinthians 3:6), that was used to implement America’s past and present Achilles heel of self-hatred, racism and discrimination. Yet, it was the “Spirit” of the uncompromising Word of God that empowered slaves to endure their extreme and brutal hardship until they were liberated in the South with Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation one hundred and fifty years ago, this August. It was the “Spirit” of the Bible that empowered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to fight against unjust injustice with civil disobedience fifty years ago with the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. Again, as it says in 2nd Corinthians 3:6 (NIV), “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

Although some “scholars” may struggle with the The Bible Series’ context and accuracy, it embodies the “Spirit”.

Therefore, rather than to simply ignore the lack of color and representation of women in the mini-series, faith leaders such as Bishop TD Jakes, Pastor Charles Jenkins, Rev. Joshua Dubois, Marketplace Minister Dorothy Cook and I created the conversation and dialogue directly with the executive producers (Roma Downey and Mark Burnett). Although we were not consulted during the production phase of The Bible Series, we extended our support, prayer, credibility and voices to Mark and Roma as they began to bring this amazing conversation piece to the marketplace via History Channel and beyond. Also, about a dozen African American pastors, including Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant, Pastor Mark Thomas, Dr. Brian Mosley, Pastors Ben and Jewel Tankard, Evangelist Tera Carissa Hodges and Bishop Tim Chatman have come together to create, a collection of unique messages designed to provide complimentary, balanced and diverse voices to the epic mini-series that millions have watched to date and will potentially engage for decades to come.

I’ve experienced the reality that authentic relationships are built over time. This 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 influencers 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.” Mark and I have agreed over and over that, “this is just the beginning for faith and inspirational based content to be truly taken seriously in Hollywood!”

This journey demands that we continue liberating our minds (intellect, will and emotions), souls, spirits and bodies with the “Spirit” of the Word that is presented throughout society via a multiplicity of versions, perspectives and commentaries that are published, distributed and available in print, audio, film and cinema. Again, scripture reminds us that the “letter kills”, but the “Spirit brings life.” The Spirit encourages us to seek change through knowledge and revelation; connectivity and conversation; dialogue and reciprocity; not isolated pontification or unnecessary attack on the producers and supporting clergy.

The Word is truth because truth is precedent; no matter how it is manipulated or distorted. 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.

We believe that millions upon millions of people who are not familiar with the Bible now have the opportunity to learn about great men and women and their quest to serve a God who created all of us in his definitive image – human and Divine. It is with this hope that we choose to support Mark and Roma rather than tear them down and discourage them though their faith journey.

The BibleWe must remember, Mark and Roma aren’t theologians but their actions to manifest their faith with their money, influence and relationships in Hollywood and network television are apparently a step in the right direction. Last I checked, I didn’t see any mainline denominations registering film funds with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to influence today’s culture rather than criticize it; or more importantly, releasing statements apologizing and retracting their “white-washing” of the Holy scriptures that have been globally perpetuated since the 1500’s.

Simply stated, The Bible Series provides the catalyst for authentic conversation about the greatest book ever written.

Let’s talk about it as we change the world.


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