J. Pharoah Doss: Can progressive district attorneys save America’s soul?

by J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier

Ta-Nehisi Coates became a nationally known figure after writing the reasons why America needs to atone for the original sin of slavery by paying reparations to Black Americans. But in My Heroes Your Stamps an essay Coates wrote for The Atlantic, he discussed the pushback he received for admitting he never heard of Augustine of Hippo.

Augustine of Hippo, also known as Saint Augustine, is considered the most influential theologian in Christian history. More importantly, Saint Augustine is best known for developing the Christian doctrine of original sin. That means there was a time Coates chastised America for its original sin of slavery, but he didn’t know the origin of the doctrine.

Of course, one doesn’t need to know the history of original sin to use it as an analogy, but it proves that many thinkers are heavily influenced by Christian doctrines without being aware of it.

John McWhorter’s new book Woke Racism: How a New Religion has betrayed Black America compares aspects of today’s progressive movement to aspects of Christianity. America’s original sin of slavery has morphed into systemic racism. White people are born with the stain of unearned privilege and they need to repent. The victims of White supremacy and power differentials shall inherit the redistribution of America’s wealth.  Finally, progressives that insist “America must come to terms with its past” are conjuring up images of judgment day.

However, McWhorter doesn’t expound on the core doctrine of Christianity.


That doctrine states humanity is in a fallen state due to the original sin that took place in Eden. Therefore, every human being is born in sin and incapable of following The Law.  Then God sent his son to die for the remission of sin saving humanity from its fallen state.

A “woke version” of this core doctrine may have influenced newly elected officials that are dedicated to criminal justice reform. That version states it’s not humanity that needs redemption, it’s America, and those that can’t follow the law need to be saved from mass incarceration, which are the remnants of America’s original sin.

For example, Alvin Bragg, Manhattan’s newly elected progressive and first Black district attorney, announced his plan to make the city safer and the criminal justice system fairer. Bragg’s office will no longer prosecute not paying public transportation fare, trespassing, prostitution, obstructing governmental administration in certain cases, and resisting arrest. Bragg will also insist on lesser charges for low-level drug offenders, burglaries, and low-level store robberies, and lesser charges if a suspect “displays a dangerous instrument but does not create a genuine risk of physical harm.”

Bragg stated the policy changes will make his district safer and free up prosecutorial resources to focus on violent crimes. He emphasized his commitment to making incarceration a last resort and said, “We will be tough when we need to be, but we will not be seeking to destroy lives through unnecessary incarceration.”

Of course, New York City’s Police Commissioner, Keechant Sewell, a Black woman, and the first woman to hold that position in New York, voiced her concerns. Sewell stated she studied what the DA’s office would decline to prosecute or downgrade and is very concerned about the safety of the New York police officers, the safety of the public, and is concerned about justice for victims. She also stated she believed in criminal justice reform, but in reform that makes sense when applied collaboratively. Sewell added, “I am concerned about sweeping edicts that seem to remove discretion, not just from police officers but also from Assistant District Attorneys regarding what crimes to prosecute and how to charge them.”

The president of the Police Benevolent Association complained, “There are already too many people who believe they can commit crimes, resist arrest, interfere with police officers, and face zero consequences.”

Bragg told the press he didn’t understand the pushback.

It’s simple, those pushing back don’t want America’s soul saved at the city’s expense.




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