Home Featured Can You Love God and Gays – The Black Church and ‘Stay At Home’ Theology In the 2012 Election

Can You Love God and Gays – The Black Church and ‘Stay At Home’ Theology In the 2012 Election

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What happened to this kind of support?

This presidential election season has been nothing short of amazing. As I sit back and watch intently, I have come to see so things that have me truly captivated. Then there are examples of things that have me completely perplexed. The black church in America has played a gargantuan role in securing rights for marginalized individuals. With its motivation based on the social gospel of Jesus Christ which tells us to love our neighbor and to help the poor and least among us, the black church has done a phenomenal job throughout its existence. However, with all of its good work to aid the poor and to proselytize the message of Christ here on earth, the black church has some areas in which it fails to recognize one of central messages Jesus Christ himself sought to teach: Love.

The highest form of love, the bible calls it agape. It’s the magnanimous Christ like love of burdening oneself with the sins of an entire people so that they might live. Meaning, that one should not have hate in their heart for anyone or anything. However, when some of these ministers speak, it seems to be the antithesis of what Christ spoke about in his gospel. Black churches and pastors have significant influence over how their members think and what they do. The pastor in a black community is supposed to be the moral leader and direct their parishioners in ways that would be becoming of the kingdom of heaven and message of Christ. However, often times these same ministers — in a display of deceitful abuse of the power and influence they wield over parishioners — push distorted views of the text.

This year, it is quite disconcerting that black pastors across this country are telling their obsequious members to avoid casting their ballot this presidential election, lest they elect a Mormon or a President who supports marriage equality for all and a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body.

What we talkin bout’

These ministers are doing a great disservice to their communities considering the wide range of influence their have in the grips. As I sat and chatted with a few coworkers the other day about this issue, we all came to one similar conclusion: The black church is forgetting its history. What I meant by them doing a disservice has a few parts. 1) By preaching that parishioners should eschew the ballot is going against the basic tenets of citizenship, which the church fought tooth and nail for during the civil rights movement. Imagine if men like Dr. King, Abernathy, Shuttlesworth and Lowry had been so stubborn as to not support John F. Kennedy because he was a Roman Catholic or support Lyndon Baines Johnson because he palled around with notable segregationist racist, Senator Richard Russell. Do you think we would have gotten a voting rights bill, a civil rights bill, or a president (Johnson) whose policies helped African Americans in a myriad of ways? No, we would have not. Those men were able to rise above the customary passions of political debate to advocate for the betterment of the entire community.

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The pusillanimous church of today however, is doing quite the opposite in their defense of staying home on Election Day. 2) The church should understand that while social issues are important this year, African American unemployment still lingers at 14.1 % which is 6 points higher than the national average of 8.1. What these clergymen should be telling their members to do is to pay attention to the economic implications of this election. Which candidate is going to put in place policies that will essentially help out this community? Do you want to be a part of that 47% of Americans who are ignored and aren’t the priority of a President or do you want to the President who works and continues to put into place policies that will help out you and your family? The black church, by exerting this insouciance, is being quite cavil to what really matters this year to their members. If someone is a homosexual and wants to be married isn’t affecting many families as much as a father who goes to interview after interview only to return home to his wife and family having his dignity scarred at not being able to find a job. The economic battles are more important to our community right now. These are the fights the good reverends, bishops and elders should be fighting. However, their edicts may be fait accompli in regards their parishioners.

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This is a serious problem across the nation. I have sat in pews and have cringed at some of the things that have come out of the mouths of ministers in regards to direction of our nation. A prime example would be last summer after New York passed the Marriage Equality Act, I went to church with a friend of the family the following Sunday. What subsequently happened showed me that people really don’t understand the message of Christ. It showed me that they nitpick certain parts to make you believe they understand — with their beguiling smiles and shouts of ‘hallelujah’ and ‘praise the lord.’ This façade is truly disconcerting, but I guess that is where God comes in to judge.

The discussion that day started with the minister admonishing and scolding Governor Cuomo and the New York State legislature for passing a Marriage Equality Act. In what was reminiscent of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “god-damn America…US of KKK” tirade, I sat in utter disbelief that ministers would use their pulpit to engage in hateful speech, the kind that is the antithesis to the message of loving everyone as Jesus Christ instructed through his message and apostles. It was what I believe to be the nadir of my church experience. However, my faith wasn’t shot, it only made it stronger. How could these men of God be so inattentive to a message that is as transparent as anything can be? It is a question with which I still find myself struggling.

I sometimes wonder what Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles as he has been called (and most transparent of all the apostles if I may add) would say in a letter to the black church? Surely, he’d call on them to continue to love as Christ loved the world, even those whom society had rejected. I’m sure he’d speak vociferously on these ministers to welcome those marginalized people to the House of God as a temple of acceptance and comfort rather than grounds of judgment and scolding. Love triumphs over hate would still be the message. A message the black church must continue to spread. This is the root of that central message of Christ. But, there will be those who continue to look at the text in a different light.

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I would encourage black parishioners and any other people of good faith to ignore what their ministers are telling them about ignoring Election Day in protest of positions such as a man being a Mormon or a President supporting gay rights. It’s ignorance in its purest form! Black people shouldn’t capitulate or acquiesce to this type of perfidy. Instead, we should be smart as we have been in the past to make our voices heard and fight for a more perfect union. We must understand that there is so much more that is important this year than who someone is sleeping with in the privacy of their homes or what a woman is choosing to do with her body. Jobs, Medicare for our elderly, health care for our sick are all issues that we should be focusing our attention on. It would be wise for these parishioners to muster the moral courage to reject these tactics of fear and insouciance. It would be wise for blacks to remember the struggle that people went through (some of these parishioners themselves) to obtain our right to vote. That shouldn’t be ignored. People died and fought diligently so that this sacred right would be afforded to use. Now it is this generation’s duty to protect and respect that right by exercising it this November.

just some thoughts…

ADF

Comment(17)

  1. This was an excellent post. Politics and Religion don't mix!! While the Black Church is staying at home on election day, I can tell you who will NOT be staying home and that's the Clergy and Parishioners of the Jewish, Islamic, and Roman Catholic faiths. These groups are very politically active. They promulgate their agendas by getting more involved in the political arena not by staying home. THEY SHOW UP for what they want. We in the Black community need to SHOW UP as well regardless of where on the religious spectrum as we fall. After the struggle of the civil rights movement I feel we have an obligation to engage with our democracy…We have rights. We need to use them. Also as a side note I m sure these same Black Ministers want folks paying their tithes on Sunday so they need to be encouraging folks to go out in vote for the person believe is going to create the most economic opportunities.

  2. Its funny (sad) that MLK had to work hard to get the church involved in politics in the first place. One of my favorite quotes of his: "A religion true to its nature must also be concerned about man's social conditions….Any religion that professes to be concerned with the souls of men and is not concerned with the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them, and the social conditions that cripple them is a dry-as-dust religion."
    My recent post Visualizing Huffman Coding Trees

  3. I love the Lord. He knows my limitations and strengths. I attend church to get inspired and prayed up. The Preacher is NOT my God. He does not tell me who to vote for, who i should marry, how often i should have sex and what my sexual orientation is. That is between me and my Lord. But i do thank God for the preacher words and wisdom. For you see i have my own choice in my life and accountable to me. Can not speak for other members of my congregation but i WILL be voting as i have done since i was 18 years old.

  4. One must remember that our ancestors fought and died for the right to vote; that does not imply that we are in way obligated to do so, especially when one considers the fact that neither candidate has devoted any significant attention to pressing matters within the black community (unemployment, teen violence, gun control laws, education).

    While I totally agree that no pastor shall openly discourage one's right to exercise their vote, I don't think this equates to the promotion of hatred, or that it is automatically out of step with God's will. To be quite honest, this bold proclamation by the media that black churches are anti-voting this election season is quite the generalization when one considers the thousands and thousands of black pulpits across the American landscape. A handful of preachers expressing anti-Obama sentiments harldy accounts for the whole. The black church has unfairly been painted as some monolithic entity and it's past time for us to reverse such thinking.

    1. Because they fought and died for it, we have even MORE of a reason to go out and make out voices heard. And read the post again, I said SOME pastors not ALL. This is a problem however, that the church as a whole must address so that this minority is not using religion and the word of God as a tool to divide but rather a tool unite.

  5. I’m with you on the voting and social issues. I’m even with you on showing agape love to gay individuals.I can get with the thought that there are socials issues the church must be more concerned with. However, I can’t quite support the acceptance of gay marriage by the church. The President has to govern for all people, not Jesus. We’re called to love all people, not necessarily what they do, or how they live. Some assume love is acceptance, and they CAN be mutually exclusive. I’m not homophobic, hate homosexual folks, or anthing of the sort. What I am though is a person who trusts the word of God more thsn the laws of Man.

    It’s true we’re supposed to follow the authority that God established. The caveat is that we follow it, unless it is contrary to God’s Word. The question posed in this issue, and others like it is does how we feel about something supersede what God says about it?

    1. "The question posed in this issue, and others like it is does how we feel about something supersede what God says about it?"

      great question.

  6. I am not quite certain what is what anymore. Black churches reject homosexuality but slightly every female or male adult in the congregation and on the pulpit has a child or children outside marriage.
    Go figure.

  7. Eloquent post! I really enjoyed your elaboration of the Love (Agape) that Jesus came to share. The world would truly be a better place to live if we all loved our neighbors.

    Throughout history many presidents loudly professed or secretly held views some may not agree with. That's human nature…what a boring world if we all agreed on everything!

    Not voting this November because of opposing viewpoints is a well played trick and those considering not voting have been duped. Although I don't believe all the hype that is politics, I still vote because not making a choice is still a choice. We have to be more careful about the bandwagons we jump on.

  8. You should have titled this post "Vote for Obama." As an independent and a journalist, I'm hypersensitive to bias– sorry. But you do have a valid point, bro, in that any preacher telling people to abstain from voting is harming our democracy; even a vote for a third-party candidate like Gov. Gary Johnson or Ron Paul contributes more than staying home.

    On another note though, the black Christian community– and I mean a large portion of the black Christian community– does not support homosexuality, especially the older generations. So you can't be surprised when they rail against it. For them, it's Scripture, and can't be disputed. From a Christian viewpoint, what people believe is right or wrong (biblical, really) is just as important as the economy, because jobs come and go, but the soul (and where it's headed) is eternal.

    Plot twist: I'm still voting for Obama. Go figure.

  9. Yeah, I was listening to a sermon where a preacher who once endorsed the president is now looking like he's telling the congregation to stay home. As I rolled my eyes hard, I think I figured out what the disconnect was and why black preachers are so hard on him. I realize that a lot of christians do not understand that there is a difference between what is acceptable in the church and what is permissible by the state. Just because something is legal does not mean that christians SHOULD engage in behaviors that are not permitted under God's laws, it just means that those who wish to disobey God will do so. Nothing I can ever do about that really, and as long as it's not hurting me I'm not about to try. Just because the president recognizes that certain rights are protected under the law does not mean that he's at all saying that people should engage in certain behaviors. If you you're not for gay marriage or abortions, don't get into a gay marriage and don't have an abortion. Problem solved.

    I'm actually proud of the president for standing up for the rights of each person under the law. I'm pretty sure that's what the president is supposed to do. I respect preachers and all, but I have my own brain and will be voting because it is a right that I truly value. There will be no staying home for me.

  10. I have to speak to the “neither candidate has devoted any significant attention to pressing matters within the black community (unemployment, teen violence, gun control laws, education)” comment. We would be no better than Mitt Romney catering only to the wealthy if we expected the the President to devote his policies exclusively to “us.” Unemployment, education, teen violence, etc are issue that affect EVERYONE in this country. And let’s face it, it’s not an accident the the unemployment rates for minorities went up after Obama took office. It’s so alarming to me that people are talking about staying home this November because quite frankly this election is way more important than the one in 08….with that I yield.

  11. I think God is being misrepresented He loves the gays He just hates the sin. If anything he is going to deliver the sinner. All that stuff is religion there is a difference between Being religious and being spiritual. Religion is a way to keep people in line or a control mechanism. Spirituality is actually let the spiritual entity guide your choices and way through life, I'm a Christian and I honestly think some of these CHURCHES are based here for political or governmental agendas and not to actually help the people smh. They shouldn't have a direct influence on the way people vote you do the research yourself and decide for yourself People are like drones I bet they didn't know that some churches get money for endorsing presidents,senstors, and etc it's called a faith based intiative Lets strive to be independent thinkers.

  12. There is a little know law (publicly) that prohibits any tax exempt entity (church) from endorsing any political candidate. There is a movement if you will, on Sunday to have over 1000 pastors challenge this law by endorsing candidates from the pulpit (Romney).

    There is much to be feared from pastors giving hateful opinions (above). Even more to be feared by churches stepping into politics.

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