Rev. Kevin Johnson, senior pastor of Bright Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, was reportedly replaced as a speaker at Morehouse College’s baccalaureate service because he recently criticized President Obama, who will deliver the school’s commencement address.
Rev. Johnson, a Morehouse alumnus, wrote an op-ed on April 14 in the Philadelphia Tribune that cited the lack of black members in President Obama's cabinet.
According to Rev. Johnson, Morehouse President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. called him on April 15 about his “untimely” comments and encouraged him to withdraw, reports Patch.com. A few days later, Rev. Johnson was told that he would be one of three baccalaureate service speakers, which he refused.
"I have always been and continue to be a supporter of President Obama. The issue is not about the article in question, but about Morehouse's longstanding history and pedagogy of free thought and free speech. Without free thought and free speech, Morehouse would not have produced our most admired alumnus, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," said Rev. Johnson.
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A group of pastors want Morehouse College to allow Rev. Johnson to speak as he was scheduled to.
“If President Wilson turns his back on one of our most distinguished alums because of an exercise of free speech and political commentary, he will have set Morehouse on a dangerous course and departed from the great tradition bequeathed to us,” Rev. Dr. Amos Brown, of the Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, told Patch.com.