Civil Rights icon Rev. Joseph Lowery jokes white people are going to hell

3:01 PM, Nov 2, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Rev. Lowery Comments on Heaven

Joseph Lowery (AP)

ATLANTA -- Civil rights leader Reverend Joseph Lowery held a press conference to respond to comments he made this past weekend.  We'll have the video of the press conference online shortly. 

In an effort to get out the vote in Georgia for President Obama, Ambassador Andrew Young and Reverent Joseph Lowery have been speaking inside local churches. One such event occurred last weekend in Forsyth.

Wednesday afternoon the Monroe County Reporter went to press with a front page, bottom fold headline that has gotten some attention.

"Civil Rights Icons Pump Obama at Forsyth Church."

"Rev Lowery: Don't think white people are going to heaven."

Is that true?

"I said it was a joke we used to tell," Lowery told 11Alive's Jeff Hullinger. "Clearly it was a joke, and I said it to the reporter it was a joke. I don't know why he would give any credibility to that it was clearly a joke."

Dianne Glidewell attended the event and wrote the story for the Monroe County Reporter. Her view is different.

"Maybe, but there are jokes more appropriate than other jokes," she said. "He is a leader and influencing people. That's where it's inappropriate."

Glidewell said others around her were shocked as well. She doesn't cover many political events.

"I cover city council, board of education," she said. "I prefer people stories, feel good stories."

Glidewell says from the pulpit, Rev. Lowery asked if there were any press. She raised her hand and said Lowery said, "Cover your ears you won't like this."

She said Lowery talk about how "when he was a young militant he believed all white people would go to hell, then he mellowed and believed not all but most. Now that he's older, he is back to feeling the same way initially."

Hullinger asked Rev. Lowery if in 2012 he thinks white people are going to hell.

"I think some whites and some blacks are going to hell," he said with a laugh. "It has nothing to do with their color and everything with their behavior."

Rev. Lowery turned 91 a few weeks ago.

He has stirred it over the generations in Atlanta with lots of verbiage and humor.

It looks like he is still going strong.

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