The PJ Tatler

The Shaming of the Black Church

It’s campaign season, and a president’s got to do what a president’s got to do. That means a sudden “evolutionary” switch by Barack Obama to support gay marriage. Celebrated by gay activists, it also presented its own dilemma…how to keep the black vote, especially within the strong black church community? The same way they fight any moral battle- shame them into it.

In a quick move to kick off the effort, the NAACP also suddenly “evolved” this past weekend, endorsing same-sex marriage as a civil right. Progressive black leaders such as Al Sharpton quickly embraced Obama’s move and just as quickly began to slam black pastors who were not immediately on board:

“When I hear them say they’re not going to vote because we prayed with him — I saw black ministers — the same ones you naming — get around and lay hands and pray for Bill Clinton when Bill Clinton, we know, committed a sin,” Sharpton proclaimed. “And we still voted for him and prayed for him. So what is the difference in this man taking a position and an opinion — not committing the act — just saying, ‘I’m alright with the legal right for people to do this.’”

Pastor Jamal Bryant suggested that Obama would have to do some serious damage control to overcome this endorsement:

“Black people are not going to switch over to the Republican party or put Romney signs on their front lawn. The critical concern is whether they will vote with apathy and not show up at the polls,” Bryant said.

“The reality is, President Obama better be in some black churches real soon clapping his hands, singing Amazing Grace and waving that right hand because the black vote is going to be very critical and apathy may win this election if we don’t get on the ground,” Pastor Bryant warned.

But it doesn’t appear that Obama has any intention of groveling to anyone, when he can simply count on his progressive backers to shame the black church into accepting gay marriage as a valid choice, thus allowing themselves to continue to support and vote for him. This really kills two birds with one stone. They are able to continue their war on religion and the destruction of doctrine while building back their base of support. It’s a big gamble with a big payoff.

Along with the more vocal statements from Sharpton and the NAACP, various black oriented blogs are helping the black church to understand why they are so “homophobic.” The Grio has a headline series on the topic, featuring the story “Is the Church to Blame for Homophobia in Black America?” One black theologian explains that it was really not blacks that ever thought this way, but manipulation by white conservatives in the civil rights era:

Aquarius Gilmer, a seminary trained social entrepreneur in the Atlanta area, believes we have a lot of misunderstanding regarding the history of the black church and homophobia/homosexuality.

“Homophobia was introduced as a wedge issue to divide the black community during the Civil Rights movement,” he said. “The idea was if white, conservative politicians could get blacks to focus more on personal piety and social justice, then they could distract us. And it has worked ever since.”

In the same piece, Pastor (?) Kevin Taylor explains how the word of a pastor has historically been used to keep blacks in oppression:

“Pastor’s word is considered infallible and leading people to hate their own children,” he said adding that when slaves, who could not read, listened to their masters read to them the story of Moses, they understood their situation as wrong according to the text.

“That was sheer brilliance. These folk had no formal education at all, yet they understood. The same book was used to keep people oppressed for years,” he said, “And is still being used today to engage in an illegal comeback.”

In another piece from The Grio entitled “The Historic Roots of Homophobia in Black America,” the following is pointed out:

Not unlike the Catholic Church, the black church has been no stranger to sexual repression, homophobia, sexphobia and sexual abuse.

This is exactly the same approach taken by Rev. Rebecca Turner in her Catholic bashing piece about the Catholic Church. In her case, it is an attempt to shame anyone who disagrees with her support of abortion. Different agenda, same approach.

So far, there are many who continue to stay true to their religious convictions and have not succumbed to the shaming techniques  to date.  Sophia Nelson fought back after being singled out on this issue:

During that same show, Dyson called out Sophia Nelson, Roland Martin, and the Rev. Jamal Bryant for what he felt was their “sanctification of bigotry in the name of faith.” Nelson, the author of Black Woman Redefined, an attorney, and frequent Grio contributor, sought to clarify her stance on the issue, which does still reflect that of many African-Americans.

In terms of the focus of gay marriage on the black community, Nelson said that the black community’s position is no different than that of Catholics, Muslims, and Jews, saying that all religious texts are consistent on the stance that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“It’s not just Christians, it’s a host of religions,” said Nelson, who had an opportunity to directly respond to Dyson on Wednesday night’s Ed Show. “I would welcome the debate anytime over whether marriage is between a man and a woman. The text is clear in Genesis 2, in Matthew 19, in Romans 1; we can go through a litany of scriptures. I can find no where in scripture that says anything about two men or two women.”

Publisher Kathy Clay-Little addressed this back in 2010:

Having worshipped almost exclusively in black churches for more than 50 years, I know the black church is not a raging bastion of homophobia. Many mainstream black churches believe the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin, nevertheless, people who are openly homosexual serve in choirs and music departments, on usher boards and other auxiliaries in the church, and are accepted with loving and open arms in those churches.

Rev. Anthony Evans of the National Black Church Initiative was also strong in his stance, despite the statement coming from the NAACP:

On Monday, the president of the National Black Church Initiative denounced both the NAACP and President Obama for supporting same-gender marriage. Rev. Anthony Evans said churches with which he is affiliated will put their faith ahead of support for black leaders “every single time.”

“We love our gay brothers and sisters, but the black church will never support gay marriage,” Evans told CBNNews. Homosexual marriage, he added, “is and always will be against the ethics and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The National Black Church Initiative comprises 34,000 black and Hispanic churches across 15 denominations.

It is encouraging to see respected members of the black church community standing strong for their beliefs, but the battle has just gotten started. They can expect the shaming of the black church to continue as long as it appears to be having an effect on the black vote in this election.