First Church of Christ, Nihilist

Back on November 22, the Reverend Michael Kinman, rector of the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, told his congregation, “we are thrilled to have Fredrika Newton and we have a brief video that really is a wonderful re-introduction to the Black Panther Party.” 

Fredrika Newton is the widow of Black Panther Party (BPP) founder Huey Newton. After Huey was murdered, Fredrika partnered with Black Panther chief of staff David Hilliard to “dispel false narratives.” Fredrika told the congregation the Black Panthers “worked in coalition with organizations to fight oppression,” and as she explained, “the Black Panther Party was rooted in love.” 

The Rev. Kinman urged the upscale congregation to support the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation, and cited the “overlap between our values and those of the Panthers.” The All Saints rector had already revealed his overlap with the values of Black Lives Matter. 

In the summer of 2020, Kinman opened the church doors for BLM “protesters.” As the rector told reporters, “This is the job of the church. If they’re not safe at City Hall, where are they safe? Well, you’re safe here.” 

Kinman was “grateful for the opportunity to put our values of radical inclusion, courageous justice, joyful spirituality and ethical stewardship into action,” and put up a Black Lives Matter banner on the church lawn. The previous year, Kinman had learned that most members of his congregation have a serious problem. 

“Whiteness and Christianity just don’t go together,” Canon Kelly Brown-Douglas of the Washington National Cathedral told the All Saints congregation on March 24, 2019. According to the theologian, the nation was founded on “Anglo-Saxon exceptionalism,” now “embedded in the DNA of our nation.” This “whiteness” or “white supremacy,” Brown-Douglas explained, is “an oppositional construct” that only acts out against “that which is nonwhite.” 

In other words, she said, “you can’t be white and Christian,” and “as long as you own your whiteness, you aren’t owning what you are as a sacred child of God. You are in fact betraying that.” That wasn’t from the Bible, Saint Augustine, or the Rev. Martin Luther King, but Kinman was OK with it. 

“What I love about that is following Jesus is this liberation, what it is liberating me from is my whiteness.” The Episcopal clergyman was about “dismantling the structures of white supremacy,” and more.  

“We need, really, a revolution, a dismantling of systems,” he said, and “we should be the people most positioned to do the dismantling in the revolution.” And of course, “we know that ‘make America great again’ means make America white again.” So no surprise that the election of Donald Trump caused quite a stir at the All Saints Church. 

“What happened this week is nothing new,” Kinman said in a November 8, 2016 “post- election conversation.” What happened was “a scarier piece of something going on for a long time,” part of “a cosmic struggle between God and forces that would draw us away from God.” 

The rector canvassed the congregation for their “feeling words,” which ranged from “betrayal” and “nauseous” to “terrified,” with one woman feeling “emboldened, powerful and hopeful for revolution.” Kinman had some words of his own. 

“One of the things I learned in Ferguson was that there is a difference between nonviolent and peaceful,” he said. “No one is being peaceful to us. It’s justice and peace in that order. Without justice there can be no peace,” and so on. 

Born in 1968, Michael Kinman earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri and put in a stint as a sportswriter. He received a master’s of divinity from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale and founded Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation, to “help eradicate global poverty.” From there it was on to Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis where he served as dean from 2009-2016, showing an interest in “dismantling systemic misogyny and homophobia and promoting racial and economic reconciliation,” and more. 

“Of all the things that have changed me and influenced my leadership here in St. Louis,” he said, “at the top of the list is listening to the voices of the young, black, mostly queer leadership that came off the streets in Ferguson.” After the death of Michael Brown, Kinman proclaimed, “this is literally a matter of life and death. People are dying fast at the hands of the police, and people are dying slow at the hands of lack of education and economic opportunity.” A year later, Kinman took it to another level. 

“We are just beginning to wake from a decades-long slumber,” Kinman said. “Police violence was the presenting issue, and it must be dealt with, but as we look into the history of these issues we see they are incredibly complex. Our entire economy was first built on the backs of black bodies that were stolen from their homes.” And St. Louis, Kinman contended, “is fragmented by design and that’s been an effective strategy for keeping poor people and people of color from power.” He also adopted a chant of BLM icon Assata Shakur, ending with “we have nothing to lose but our chains.”

Assata Shakur is Joanne Chesimard of the Black Liberation Army (BLA), a bank robber, murderer of a police officer, and a fugitive. Kinman was OK with all that. “The community rallied around a piece of her wisdom,” he told reporters, “and it is not my job to critique their choice.” For the All Saints job, Kinman was a fine choice. 

Longtime All Saints rector Rev. George Regas was a pro-Soviet leftist in the style of Hewlett Johnson, the “red dean” of Canterbury Cathedral, or William Sloane Coffin of the Riverside Church in New York.  Under the Regas, All Saints maintained a “Friends of the Soviet Union” club, rechristened “Friends of the Former Soviet Union” after the fall of the Communist regime. A similar dynamic is playing out under Kinman. 

The Episcopal clergyman parrots socialist superstitions that expanded poverty, misery, and oppression everywhere they were imposed. The All Saints rector has also immanentized the eschaton, viewing the election of Donald Trump as part of “a cosmic struggle between God and forces that would draw us away from God.” 

What the rector thinks of the addled Joe Biden, who tells African Americans “you ain’t black” if they fail to support him, has yet to be revealed in a video. On the other hand, Kinman welcomes the critical racism that tells people “you can’t be white and Christian,” and “whiteness and Christianity just don’t go together,” as Kelly Brown-Douglas said.  

On November 22, Fredrika Newton told All Saints that the Black Panthers were “rooted in love.” As she knows, there was more to it. 

Huey Newton had engaged in gun battles with Oakland police but was not “murdered” by the police. In 1989, Tyrone Robinson of the Black Guerrilla Family, a longtime rival of the Panthers, shot Newton dead as he emerged from a drug den. 

David Horowitz, son of Communist Party members, once worked with the Panthers and raised $100,000 for the Oakland Community School. The Panthers ran meal programs but also served as “a front for a criminal gang attempt­ing to control the illegal traffic of the East Oakland ghetto.” 

The Panthers kidnapped and murdered Betty Van Patter, the bookkeeper Horowitz hired, and that marked his departure from the Left. For the full story, see Radical Son, but Van Patter was hardly the Panthers’ only victim. 

In 1969 the Panthers tied 19-year-old Alex Rackley to a chair, poured pots of boiling water over him until he “confessed,” strapped him to a bed for three days, then drove Rackley to a swamp and shot him dead. Party enforcers even made a tape of Rackley’s “trial.” 

In 2022, the Rev. Kinman finds “overlap between our values and those of the Panthers” and believes “we need, really, a revolution, a dismantling of systems,” and “we should be the people most positioned to do the dismantling in the revolution.” In effect, the long familiar First Church of Christ Socialist becomes the First Church of Christ Stalinist, or maybe nihilist. 

Led by Kinman, the All Saints “progressives” have made leftist superstition and woke madness part of their faith. So they can’t change their minds, based on facts and reality, without becoming apostates. That’s why they carry on in a way that defies satire. 

And now abide wokeism, superstition, and ignorance. At the All Saints Church, it’s hard to tell which is the greatest.

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About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: Tony Hoffarth via Creative Commons