All Too Silent a Witness

The irony of the watching the famous slow motion chase of OJ Simpson as I stood next to Ben Kinchlow alone in that room struck me as I stood there, and is one I still think of from time to time even now, 20 years later: There I was, a theologically progressive Christian working for a conservative Christian organization, standing next to a man who had once been a black nationalist, heavily influenced by Malcom X; then ordained as a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal church and who was founder of an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged African American kids and a man who for many years had been a prominent member of CBN’s leadership.

OJ and the Slow Chase

NB: A recent CNN opinion piece by Dorothy A. Brown entitled “Why Holder Remark Made White People Mad” has a lot to say that is right in line with what I say here.

You know, 20 years is a long time, and yet not so long…

Late in the evening of Friday June 17, 1994, I was in the lobby of The Founder’s Inn in Virginia Beach, VA watching the news on a television there while waiting for my (first) wife to finish up her work for the evening at the hotel’s bookstore and gift shop.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the conservative Christian universe, The Founder’s Inn is on the campus of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), the headquarters for Pat Robertson’s television ministry. I had only recently been hired there, to manage a software development department in their IT Division.

As I stood there, up on the screen came a “news alert” followed by a live telecast via helicopter of the famous “slow motion chase” by police down Interstate 405 in Los Angeles of a white Ford Bronco carrying O. J. Simpson, who was sitting in the back seat of the vehicle, pointing a gun at his own head.   At the time, he was the prime suspect in the murders of his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Standing next to me watching that broadcast was a gentleman I barely knew, but whom I heard a great deal about and admired: Ben Kinchlow, a prominent Black evangelist and activist, and (at the time) co-host of Pat Robertson’s daily “700 Club” broadcast.

We stood side by side, wordlessly watching the spectacle unfolding before us for around 20 minutes before we both went our separate ways.

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