Some interesting conversations have arisen since the fallout over The Crossing church co-pastor Keith Simon’s sermon on transgenderism.

My response was published in Sunday’s Missourian, and I really don’t want to address the sermon any longer, other than to apologize that my comments did not include or address the issue of nonbinary gender.

No writer can say everything in one column. Please hear this: I do think God also created people who affirm nonbinary gender.

I am still a student in the process of learning about the nuances of gender, and I try not to talk about what I do not know.

We are engaged in a new field of study when we explore sexual fluidity, and we will discover more as the research continues to grow and expand. Thanks to those who called my attention to the phenomenon of nonbinary gender.

With the Ragtag Film Society deciding to no longer accept financial sponsorship from The Crossing, the conversation about money has become fascinating to me.

My understanding is that over 1,000 people signed a petition asking Ragtag Cinema and the True/False Film Festival to give up funding from The Crossing because many consider it “dirty money.”

This does not come from the Ragtag Film Society. They are refusing the money because of a difference in core values.

But here is my question: Given that we live in a capitalistic society, where may I find “clean money”?

Isn’t all money under a capitalistic system dirty money? If you put your money in a bank, that bank probably invests in all kinds of enterprises in order to produce a profit. That may include the sale of weapons to enemies of democracy or investments in sweat shops in various parts of the world.

If you have a 401(k) plan, you also may have no clue where your money has been invested.

Here are other possible scenarios:

  • If I sell artwork to a drug dealer because his daughter fancies it, have I acted complicatedly by accepting his money?
  • I have a Ph.D. from a historically racist, sexist, homophobic academic institution. Have I benefited from dirty money if my degree is fruit from a poisonous tree?

Again, what constitutes dirty money?

When I pastored a church in Detroit, I would put the hymn numbers on the wall for congregates to easily find the hymns. It’s a common practice in many churches.

I suddenly noticed an increase in attendance increased, as well as the offering. I subsequently learned that some people who attended the worship services were playing the numbers (Pick 3, Pick 4, or a street numbers game) and hitting on a regular basis.

Not only were they hitting, they were “tithing” (10%) their winnings! When I discovered what was happening, I stopped putting up hymn numbers, but the question remained: Was the tithing dirty money?

One of the most ardent and strident critics of my columns, Cam Neal, said something that I think is unquestionably correct: “We must not accept false premises.”

To believe that clean money and dirty money exist is a false premise that leads to an invalid argument.

It leaves two choices: Refuse all sponsorships and money of any kind because it could be dirty money. Or, clean dirty money with noble action.

Because of the way the world of economics works, we can never know how or where money is generated. I therefore suggest we clean the money with noble action.

Use the money to get inmates out of jail if they are in danger of losing their homes and jobs because they have been incarcerated for much too long.

Take the scholarships from Shell, Exxon, and Mobile oil companies and use them to help students become engineers and make the world a better place to live.

It has been reported that The Crossing gave True/False $35,000 in financial contributions, while Ragtag Cinema received $8,000. If people consider it dirty money, give that money to me.

I could develop a theological education program in conjunction with Columbia College or Stephens or Moberly Area Community College to train black clergy who cannot afford it because they must feed their families.

Use the money to bless organizations like the Turning Point and the Voluntary Action Center.

Organize a network to help women and men escape human trafficking, or have ongoing Christian-LGBTQIAA+ conferences so we can all learn and not just rant.

Fund workshops on nutrition and mental health needs in the black community.

If all money is dirty money, let’s clean that money with noble acts. Is anyone out there willing to help me?

The Rev. C.W. Dawson Jr. was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy at MU. He teaches at Columbia College and Moberly Area Community College and writes for the Missourian.

About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

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