Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Paula Deen--Can She Be Forgiven?

Something has troubled me since the Paula Deen scandal broke. I’ve come to think that the whole world has come down on her pretty hard. Her empire is crumbling. All her sponsors are lining up to break their contracts with her. People are passing out rocks and we are throwing them pretty hard at Paula. Even Gene Robinson whom I respect immensely shakes his head and says let her go.

I know she has used the n-word in the past. Few Southerners have not. And the n-word is something that most of the whole country could be guilty of. No—it was wrong to use the word. It is wrong to demean anyone with this slur any other.

Paula Deen has owned up to what she said. She has not lied. She has taken responsibility for her hurtful words said long ago. She has apologized profusely. What more can she do?

Jimmy Carter* one of my heroes has said what I have been thinking. “She was maybe excessively honest in saying that she had in the past, 30 years ago, used this terrible word. I think she has been punished, perhaps overly severely, for her honesty in admitting it and for the use of the word in the distant past. She’s apologized profusely” President Carter says that she should be forgiven.

The former President  had pointed out Deen’s programs in Savannah, Georgia that benefit “almost exclusively oppressed and overly stricken black folk.” She has said she is not a racist and I believe her. People can change. The church teaches this.

Interestingly the Carter Center in Atlanta is hosting a human rights forum this weekend promoting the role of religion in advancing women’s rights. Reckon Paula Deen fits into this category? I think she does.

We do not trivialize the use of the n-word—but we, as Christians, take Paula at her word. We forgive. We move on. We learn from our mistakes. I’ve always been for the underdog even the rich ones with big hair and a Southern drawl. What do you think Jesus would do?


1 comment:

  1. from what i read, it was more than admitting saying the n word. it was the way she treated her african american employees as well. it's not my place to forgive or not to forgive, but i do not grieve that she has lost her powerful position which she used to cause others harm.