State Sen. Anastasia Pittman chose forgiveness over bitterness.
Pittman — the only African-American female among Oklahoma’s 149 legislators — made national headlines when she stood beside an expelled University of Oklahoma fraternity member at a March 25 news conference. Levi Pettit, who is white, apologized for his role in a racist chant caught on video.
But what brought the respected state senator and the disgraced frat boy to the same stage?
“I can’t promote Christianity or Christ-like values in policy, and then when I have an opportunity to forgive, I don’t,” Pittman, a longtime member of the Northeast Church of Christ in Oklahoma City, told The Christian Chronicle.
The 44-year-old Democrat recalled the conversion of Saul in the Book of Acts: “He was bold in his persecutions of Christians. But on the road to Damascus, he had a change of heart. He became a prisoner of Christ. He became bold in saving and winning souls.”
With regard to 20-year-old Pettit, she said, “I think this young man has a bright future.”
The chant by Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members aboard a chartered bus referenced the N-word and lynchings and sparked national outrage.
After the leaked video went viral, Pittman issued a statement condemning the fraternity’s chant and praising University of Oklahoma President David Boren’s swift response.
The March 9 statement said Boren’s “immediate decision to order all members to vacate the fraternity and call for OU to cut all ties from the national SAE organization … sends a message that such disgraceful behavior will not be tolerated.”
But later, Pettit contacted Pittman and said he wanted to apologize.
Pettit, who is from Dallas, had been baptized in a Church of Christ, the senator said.
“My job as a leader in this state is to find common ground, to utilize my Christian values and my morals in everything I do,” Pittman said of her response to Pettit. “So when he said, ‘I want to apologize to you face to face,’ I fostered an environment where he could do that in a safe place, which is the church.”
Pittman arranged a meeting with Pettit, his parents and Northeast minister Arnelious Crenshaw Jr. in the church conference room. The senator said she wanted Crenshaw there so he could offer words of encouragement and pray.
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SOURCE: The Christian Chronicle