The family of the late musical legend, Aretha Franklin, have expressed their outrage at the pastor who delivered the muchly anticipated eulogy to the “Queen of Soul.”
Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. of Salem Baptist Church in Atlanta has been highly criticized for an overtly political speech during which he asserted that children are raised in a home without a father it should be viewed as “abortion after birth.”
“There are no fathers in the home no more,” he said, which many saw as an insensitive remark considering Aretha was a single mother herself.
There was also some controversy surrounding Williams’ remarks about the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
“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,” the pastor declared.
— Audrey Washington (@AudreyWSBTV) September 3, 2018
But many of those in attendance, including soul legend Stevie Wonder, took issue with this statement.
“We can talk about all the things that are wrong and there are many but the only thing that can deliver us is love. So what needs to happen today not only in this nation but throughout the world is that we need to make love great again,” Wonder said following his own musical tribute to the star, as reported by Reuters.
“Because black lives do matter, because all lives do matter and if we love God then we know truly that it is our love that will make all things matter, when we make love great again. That is what Aretha has said throughout her life. Throughout the pain, she gave us the joy and said ‘Let’s make love great again’.”
“He spoke for 50 minutes and at no time did he properly eulogize her,” said Vaughn Franklin, the “Respect” singer’s nephew, as reported by the Associated Press. The family noted that they chose Williams to give an address after he delivered the sermon at the funeral of Franklin’s father, minister and civil rights activist C.L. Franklin, some 34 years ago.
Williams has said that he “understands” the family’s concerns, but does not take back anything he said during his address. “I regret it. But I’m sorry they feel that way,” he added.
He continued: “I said blacks do not matter, because black lives cannot matter, will not matter, should not matter, must not matter until black people begin to respect their own lives. Then and only then will black lives matter.”
Despite the pastor’s attempt at concocting a coherent explanation for his remarks, the eulogy “caught the entire family off guard,” Franklin noted. “It has been very, very distasteful,” he said.
But this wasn’t the only moment that raised eyebrows during the course of the raucous funeral service. Viewers were shocked when, following Ariana Grande’s performance of “Natural Woman,” a Detroit megachurch pastor groped the popstars breast and made an inappropriate joke.
“When I saw Ariana Grande at the program, I thought that was a new something at Taco Bell,” Bishop Charles H. Ellis III said as he held the singer tightly up against him. As he continued on, and with Grande looking increasingly uncomfortable, the pastor repeatedly pressed his fingers into the side of her breast.
The shocking incident prompted many to express their disgust and outrage on social media.
I don’t care what you think about Ariana Grande, her music or her dress. This is wrong. That bishop’s hand should not be on her breast: I just saw this because I’ve been working and not watching pic.twitter.com/ixVhgYBJTN
— Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) September 1, 2018
If you think Ariana Grande's dress was the problem at the #ArethaHomegoing, you're actually the problem.
Ariana Grande was mocked with a problematic joke as she was groped by a minister in front of an entire congregation and in front of a live audience.
— Marchaé (@MarchaeGrair) September 1, 2018
The minister, who is the lead pastor of Detroit’s Greater Grace Temple, has since apologized.
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast,” he, told The Associated Press. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”