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Mayor Frank Scott is all about unity, but unity sometimes might not be possible or even the right goal.

Let's say Immanuel Baptist Church of Little Rock is bringing an acclaimed young Baptist pastor to town to lead a discussion about race and faith.

Let's say that the website of this young pastor's ministry contains assertions, common to the Southern Baptist Convention, that homosexuality is a sin and that women should graciously submit to their husbands.

Should the unity-professing mayor permit his name to be used in the promotion of this $10-a-ticket event and agree to participate in a panel discussion with the aforementioned minister?


Actually, that's happening, at the Robinson Center grand ballroom at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, March 1.

A young "church planter" from Los Angeles named D.A. Horton is coming to town.

The promotional material touts that the mayor--a Baptist preacher himself, remember--will be a "special guest" along with Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

Hutchinson gets a pass. He is a long-established Republibaptist who is governor of an overpoweringly right-wing state. He's not a new mayor of a blue urban island with a significant and active gay population--not to mention a healthy quotient of women who consider themselves equal citizens.

Scott's position is that unity considerations require a mayor to engage in public dialogue with those with whom he disagrees.

Does Scott indeed disagree with those positions declared on Horton's website?

I might best cite a paragraph from a magazine piece I wrote in September 2015 about a possible future Little Rock mayor's race and the interest in it expressed by Warwick Sabin and Scott.

This is the paragraph: "Scott is an ordained Baptist preacher who believes and preaches that homosexuality is a sin. But he said in a recent interview that, in public life, it is important that everyone communicate and try to work together on policy. And that means the black community must not isolate itself from the gay community but seek common ground. He said the city can make progress only if we have effective lines of communication between the sinners we all are."

It's a classic Frank Scott position, either profound or lofty or a finesse or evasive or offensively right-wing. Or unifying. It's really a jumble of all of that from a man trying to keep his pulpit and podium in the proper or expedient lanes.

Scott says his policy on "inclusion" is clear. He says he demands it and does not waver from it. But inclusion goes all directions.

Do gays buy it? Jay Barth, the Hendrix political scientist, endorsed Scott in the runoff. I asked him what he thought now, knowing he was a good friend of Scott but that he had resisted supporting him early over Scott's religious views. (And freeway-widening ones.)

This is what Barth wrote back: "I've had a lengthy private conversation with Frank about my concerns regarding the views of the moderator of this event and his participation in it. While I won't share the details of that conversation, you'll not be surprised that I find the stances of D.A. Horton indefensible. Sadly, the denigration of women and LGBTQ individuals remains all too common in our society and in our community. It is particularly angering when a loving religion is used as a cover for continuing oppression.

"As I know well from my own experience, I do agree with Frank that change in attitude only comes about when we talk with folks across lines of difference and disagreement."

There is a tendency among some on the local left--state Sen. Joyce Elliott, prominently--to cut Scott slack in this matter, albeit with struggling exasperation.

I'm wondering if Scott wouldn't be catching about as much heat on the news that he had declined to attend a meeting on race and faith in his city that the governor was attending.

These are the questions: Is the arduous task of seeking unity in Little Rock served by Scott's participating in a religious event with a person who calls homosexuality a sin and deems women subservient to husbands? Or is there a greater risk of, and cost in, alienating a significant segment of the community that has long sustained unfair and mean discrimination?

It's possible that Scott will advance unity with the conservative Christian community by participating. It's possible that he will advance unity with the gay community by what he says while participating.

In the end, the answer lies not with Scott, but with us.

We have those understandably hurt by Scott's willing association with offensive views. We have those with intolerant views of gays and regressive views on the role of women.

Can these two groups abide a politician who talks with one and advances public policy for the other?

Or can they at least wait to see what happens?


John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Editorial on 02/12/2019

Print Headline: Unity in a divided world


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  • Foghorn
    February 12, 2019 at 8:35 a.m.

    Why is it a fee-based event? Where is the money going? Why isn’t it a free, open to the public event? I fail to see how this event benefits anyone other than Horton himself. I’m rapidly losing any patience I had with Scott.

  • RobertBolt
    February 12, 2019 at 9:18 a.m.

    Where is the reporting here that can easily be found elsewhere about the latest pandemic of sexual assaults now gripping the entire Southern Baptist Church as an institution? These pious hypocrites need to get their own house in order before pretending to have the moral authority to tell anybody else how to live. Their god hasn't stopped it, so maybe they should finally do something themselves.

  • drs01
    February 12, 2019 at 10:33 a.m.

    Frank (don't call me that; call me Mayor Scott) should learn that religion and politics can't co-exist. And religion, like sexual preference, needs to stay behind the scene. Unity can't happen as long as Frank continues to do both, and surround himself with radicals (Joyce Elliot for sure). I'm not interested in hearing what a southern Baptist has to say having grown up in this city where Catholics were demonized for their beliefs by Baptist.

  • mrcharles
    February 12, 2019 at 11:12 a.m.

    put a rev in front of a name, and magic occurs, divine celestial decoding takes place, usually matters that are withheld from most of us.

    now saying rev floyd from NW arkie land [ home of harrison ILKS like MM, gop stronghold, timmy hutchinson { remember him being outraged at bill clinton's indiscretions] , the duggar tribe, could be a hypocrite may be wrong. he is like many, using the many to provide him a living for just lying to children about knowing about unknowns, having his ego satisfied by telling others what is real [ talking about satan, but if this satan was called something else and JR said the things he says that he knows about satan, JR would be put in nUrse Ratchets afternoon discussion group], and of course the monetary stuff he gets to get his hornets nest stirred up weekly. Guess his ship of fools is not so saintly. I dont call them so much as hypocrites as used car salesment telling people you will love this car , just ignore it has flat tires and engine wont start.

    I am glad that my catholic friends now do not have to take the brunt of the holy of hollies being sex perverts.

    Scot shows you that black people are just like white people. Sadly , they too use nonsense to make claims .

    drs01, clear evidence of the theory that non lucid primates can have moments of lucid thoughts before slipping back into darkness ... kinda makes me think of that great song.

  • RBear
    February 12, 2019 at 11:38 a.m.

    Bolt it was here yesterday. Did you miss it? My friend from San Antonio, John Tedesco, was one of the contributing reporters on the scandal. I agree the SBC needs to address the issue before taking any more steps at dictating morality. Personally, I disagree with your attacks on Christians in general. Our God will not stop it because our God gives us free will to either choose to serve and follow a righteous path or choose not to.
    My favorite quotes on this are not from the Bible, but from the movie "Bruce Almighty."
    God: Now, here's the deal. You have all my power, use it any way you choose. There are only two rules. You can't tell anybody you're God; believe me, you don't want that kind of attention. And you can't mess with free will.
    Bruce: Can I ask why?
    God: [smiling] Yes, you can! That's the beauty of it!
    To even think God will meddle with our lives and free will is absurd and misses the beauty of God's plan.

  • RobertBolt
    February 12, 2019 at 11:50 a.m.

    You can speak convincingly of the attributes of gods when you prove their existence, rbear. Otherwise, it is all opinion.

  • RBear
    February 12, 2019 at 11:54 a.m.

    Expected that type response from you. Regardless, your criticism of Christianity, Judaism, and other religions is apparent. No idea why, but I’ll leave it at that.

  • RobertBolt
    February 12, 2019 at 11:57 a.m.

    And where is our free will if omniscient gods always infallibly know the one thing each person will choose to do in every circumstance? You are already getting in over your head, rbear, so walk away if you can.

  • RobertBolt
    February 12, 2019 at 11:59 a.m.

    Answering those superstitions is as easy as swatting flies stuck in honey.

  • PopMom
    February 12, 2019 at 12:30 p.m.

    Scott should be dealing with the crime problem in Little Rock by working toward better schools and community services and by instituting better police practices to ensure that the youth aren't carrying guns and robbing stores. What a disappointment! It's too bad one of the other candidates did not win.