I am still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Al Sharpton and I actually agree on something. Sunday on his MSNBC show, "PoliticsNation," Al Sharpton called on "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett to "face accountability to the maximum" if he staged a hate crime that he could blame on white President Donald Trump supporters to show they are homophobic and racist (https://www.breitbart.com/clips/ 2019/02/18/sharpton-calls-smollett-face-accountability-maximum-he-staged-hoax/).
Before this past week, I had never heard of Jussie Smollett a single time in my life that I know of or remember. I have never watched a single episode of "Empire," and I have no idea what it is about. In general, I eschew television in favor of things like reading, writing, weightlifting, family time and ministerial duties. But since I am also on social media, his name was inescapable as the "horrible crime against him" began to unfold. Dastardly white conservative Republican Trump supporters assaulted him, he said, shouted slurs at him and perpetrated a hate crime against him.
This tale led to the predictable assemblage of stars, journalists and politicians immediately nodding in agreement and lamenting "how horrible things have become" in America.
But at this point in time, his story is in tatters. At least for now, it very much appears that Mr. Smollett staged the entire affair and knowingly tarred and feathered a large segment of the population in so doing. And that brings me to my utterly surprising yet very pleasant agreement with Al Sharpton.
To say that Mr. Sharpton and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum would be an understatement. And the fact that a die-hard liberal and a die-hard conservative see eye to eye on what should happen if, in fact, Mr. Smollett is proven to have staged a fake hate crime, is encouraging to me.
Deuteronomy 19:16-20 says, "If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you."
While the Apostle Paul was totally correct when he said that we are no longer under the (Mosaic) law, but under grace, this bit of choice wisdom from the ancient law is one that I would welcome to have enshrined in our own law today. Simply put, if it is proven that a person lied about another person committing a crime, whatever would have happened to the innocent person who was wrongly accused must then be done to the false accuser. If the penalty would have been death, the false accuser must be put to death, if imprisonment then imprisonment for an equal time, if monetary penalty then equal monetary penalty.
There are very few items in our incredibly fractured society around which we can all unite. This one should be an easy call. Flaming leftists and stodgy right-wingers should easily be able to join hand in hand marching down main street in unison demanding this. You see, there is no weapon so powerful as the one-two punch of government and media. A person on the left or the right can literally be destroyed when those weapons are deployed against them. And when a person tells a lie that will turn those weapons against the innocent, a crime of the highest magnitude has been committed; it is assault and battery with the deadliest of weapons.
But the list of victims only gets longer. Beyond just the initial assault against the innocent, there is also the continuing damage done to real victims. When each new week seems to bring a fresh tale of someone lying about being assaulted, people who truly have been assaulted then become afraid to speak out, fearing that they will be regarded as liars as well. This makes any false claim of assault a literal crime against humanity.
And that, it seems, can bring such disparate creatures as myself and Al Sharpton together. So let me know if you are ever coming through my neck of the woods, Mr. Sharpton, I am truly grateful for your words on this, and lunch is on me.
Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at 2know firstname.lastname@example.org.