Mixing religion and politics can often be combustive. Or, in the right hands, it can
be educational and even entertaining. That is what happens if the controversial topics such as gun control, voting and systemic inequities are presented by John Eaves, a former politician who was trained as a theologian and is an active member of The Temple.
The former chairman of the Fulton County Commission and 2020 congressional
candidate, Eaves said the new show, “Atlanta Speaks with Dr. John Eaves,” on AIB Network “fell into my lap.”
The show launches 8:30 p.m. April 15 with the re-airing of an interview Eaves conducted with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “Atlanta Speaks” will roll out a new episode every other week.
The April 29 show will focus on health care disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eaves will be speaking with Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, president of the Morehouse School of Medicine and Rabbi Ari Kaiman of Congregation Shearith Israel.
On May 13, Eaves will discuss food insecurity with Kyle Waide, CEO and president of the Atlanta Community Food Bank and Rev. Dr. Wendel Dandridge, senior pastor of The Worship Center.
r. John Eaves talks with Dwayne Brown from the Fulton County Solicitor General’s office.Two weeks later, the subject will be inequities in the criminal justice system with
Eaves talking to Adam Gelb, CEO and president of the Council on Criminal Justice, and Dwayne Brown, deputy chief assistant solicitor general, Office of the Fulton County Solicitor General.
Future episodes will focus on topics ranging from equity in public education, gun
control, the value of historically black colleges and universities and ethical leadership across the partisan divide.
Eaves said that although Raffensperger “carried the whole [first] show,” each following segment will have at least two guests, “either pro and con on a subject or an expert and involved practitioner. I will also give my own commentary and interject universal values of hope, faith, redemption and love.”
His goal is to offer programs with a unique combination of politics and religion,
noting how he had attended divinity school.
According to Eaves, the TV show resulted from AIB’s interest in him doing a “TED Talk.”
“I wanted to speak on the intersectionality of being black and Jewish,” he said. When he went into the AIB studio to tape the segment, he met Audrey Daniels, AIB Network president and CEO.
“For more than 50 years, the AIB Network has offered a platform for thoughtful
conversation and diverse voices from our community and across the political and
religious spectrum,” Daniels said. “‘Atlanta Speaks with Dr. John Eaves’ is an example of how we continue to fulfill that mission. As an African American man, engaged in the Jewish community and in his congregation, as well as a seasoned politician who has also had seminary training, Dr. Eaves was a natural fit for such programming. Each episode Dr. Eaves invites his guests and viewers to explore issues from a variety of perspectives they may not have considered previously,
views that also reflect the complexity of our culture and one’s own individual life experiences.”
Audrey Galex, AIB Network community engagement manager, who is Jewish, said
she is “delighted to have Dr. John Eaves offer people from a variety of perspectives the opportunity to share their views on the AIB
Network in a thoughtful, open forum.”
Eaves said the pilot episode, in which he interviewed Raffensperger, “got out of
the gate successfully. We had a good conversation and it brought credibility” to the new TV show. Raffensperger received national attention early this year when he vigorously defended Georgia’s handling of the 2020 election against attacks of fraud by former President Donald Trump.
In the following episodes, Eaves pointed out that Rabbi Kaiman discussed how his
congregation has managed during the COVID-19 pandemic and ACFB’s Waide talked about food insecurity that was exacerbated by the pandemic.
Eaves said that he had to cut his commentary on the first show, but told the AJT
that he had planned on speaking about Moses leading the Jewish people out of Egypt with the “rod in his hand,” he said. “There’s power in Moses’ hand. We have power in our votes.”
The “open-ended contract” with AIB Network is just one of Eaves’ many activities. He teaches political science at Atlanta’s Black liberal arts Spelman College. And he’s in the process of founding the Political Leaders of
Tomorrow Institute of Blacks and Jews. Once he has funding for the program, he hopes to target college students, “pairing Jews and Blacks and bringing them together to get to know each other so they can form alliances on topics of common interest,” he said.
“I’ve been involved in both audiences. In Black audiences, there are few Jews and
in Jewish audiences, there are few Blacks. I want to get these groups together. I’ve done focus groups at the University of Georgia and at Spelman to test the idea. If I get funding, I will roll it out in Georgia first.”
Eaves acknowledges that his goal is not only to encourage advocacy among the Black and Jewish students, but also possibly groom future politicians. “Pursuing public office is a noble pursuit,” said the former politician. He added that he has no plans to run for public office again. “I’m going to be a statesman right now and concentrate on the TV show.”
- Jan Jaben-Eilon
- John Eaves
- The Temple
- Congregation Shearith Israel
- TED Talk
- AIB Network
- Fulton County Commission
- Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger
- Rabbi Ari Kaiman
- Valerie Montgomery Rice
- Atlanta Community Food Bank
- Kyle Waide
- Rev. Dr. Wendel Dandridge
- Audrey Daniels
- Audrey Galex