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Ask a Negro Leaguer Column 

Week of March 2, 2006

Hey Joe: What's your opinion on those billboards that claim the church can help cure homosexuality?

Johnny Weir, Quarryville, Pennsylvania

Love hides all faults. It is one of God's three basic laws. Together they read: There shall be no other gods before Me, Love and Obedience. Had the church followed God's prescribed method, there would be no need for billboards. Love would've overshadowed fault. Granted, the lifestyle of homosexuals is an abomination to God, but He didn't delegate man to provide the answer, for it is made perfectly clear in the Book of Romans (12:19) with these words: "Vengeance is mine... saith the Lord." To suggest the church would convert homosexuals into heterosexuals is like suggesting that the church would transform blacks into whites. Since the civil rights movement, black homosexuals have been subjected to the same indignities as all other blacks, while white homosexuals enjoy the luxuries offered to all whites.

Recently the church has seemingly targeted homosexuality as its pet peeve, but this is only a microcosm of its hypocrisy. For centuries it has been unable to convert hatred into love, and the church as a whole has never attacked the issue. In fact, it has been hatred's staunchest supporter: The three basic laws of God have been practiced in reverse.

Though I've been sold on the Bible for a lifetime, I never attempted to read it until recently. I thought it was too complicated to understand. Now I can better perceive the meaning of Isaiah 35:8: "The way is so plain a fool can't err." But for some time now, after following the preaching of big-time TV evangelists or other sources (blacks and whites), I find the above statement to be untrue. That is, if I follow their lead.

But I refuse to venture from God's three basic laws. Man has drifted from this course; he has twisted the Bible into a big financial business by profaning the name of God. He has separated church from state, but both are the work of man. Also, it was man — not God — that married homosexuals. The church is too badly flawed to point fingers at anyone.

Prince Joe Henry, one of professional baseball's original "clowns," was an all-star infielder for Negro League baseball teams in Memphis, Indianapolis and Detroit throughout the 1950s. But up until the late 1940s, Prince Joe didn?t know anything about the Negro Leagues. His knowledge of organized baseball was limited to the Cardinals and Browns games he attended during his preteen years at Sportsman?s Park, accompanied by lifelong buddy Eugene "Gene" Crittendon, who could pass for white.

Perhaps Henry?s most vivid memory of those games: Upon entry, white ushers would politely escort the boys to a small section of the left-field stands reserved for "Colored." After climbing past several tiers of bleachers, they?d arrive at their stop, rows and rows behind their white counterparts.

Even at a young age, the boys were conscious of the double standard -- and determined to vent their disdain. The opportunity would arise with the urge to urinate. Rather than head for the latrine, the boys would edge their way to the front of the section and let fly. As the liquid foamed its way down the concrete steps toward the white kids, Henry and his pal would ease back and relax, politely rooting for the visiting team to beat the hell out of the Browns or the Cards.

After all, Henry and Crittendon hailed from Brooklyn, Illinois, a small, predominantly black township just east of the Mississippi River. So hospitable were the residents of Brooklyn that they were known to take in a rank stranger, treat him to breakfast, lunch, supper and a night out on the town -- and afterward, if he messed up, treat him to a good ass-whippin'.

Direct questions on any and all topics to If we don't like yours, we'll hit Joe with our own.

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