The pastor who delivered the controversial eulogy at Aretha Franklin’s funeral on Friday has come under fire from the Queen of Soul’s family.
Vaughn Franklin, the late singer’s nephew, dubbed the address by the Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. as “offensive” and “distasteful” in a statement the family released to the Detroit Free Press on Monday.
“Rev. Jasper Williams spent more than 50 minutes speaking and at no time did he properly eulogize her,” said Vaughn Franklin. “We feel that Rev. Jasper Williams, Jr. used this platform to push his negative agenda, which as a family, we do not agree with.”
In his eulogy, Williams claimed a black woman cannot raise a black boy to be a man, which some interpreted as an insult toward the “Respect” singer ― a single mother of four boys. He also talked about black-on-black crime, and described children who do not have a father in the family home as suffering from “abortion after birth.”
Franklin said his aunt had not personally selected Williams, pastor of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta, for the role prior to her death from pancreatic cancer on Aug. 16, “because dying is a topic that she never discussed with anyone.”
The family asked Williams to perform the eulogy because he had done so for several family members before, Franklin added. “However, there were several people that my aunt admired that would have been outstanding individuals to deliver her eulogy including Dr. William J. Barber, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Rev. James Holley and Pastor E.L. Branch.”
Williams’ eulogy was not well received on Twitter:
The pastor has, however, stood by his comments.
“Here’s the root of what I’ve been talking about: In order to change America, we must change black America’s culture,” Williams told The Associated Press on Sunday. “We must do it through parenting. In order for the parenting to go forth, it has to be done in the home. The home.”
Further controversy came during the service from the officiating Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, over the way he touched singer Ariana Grande:
“It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. ... I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,” Ellis later apologized to AP. “Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.”