Remember the black church, the church that was a beacon of hope for enslaved African-Americans, the church that served as an instrument of social change in America for over a hundred years, the church that has given us transformational leaders like Martin Luther King Jr.? Yea, me too, what happened?
Over the last couple of decades the black church has become stagnant in fighting against the pressing social issues of the day and has been exploited, in a way, to discriminate against some of the very souls they have pledged to “save”.
One of the major exploitations of the black church has occurred at the ballot box. Yes, African-Americans vote overwhelmingly Democrat in elections, but conservative measures to limit reproductive rights for women and marriage equality for gays, on the state levels, has been largely successful because of the black church. Seven in 10 African Americans who went to the polls voted yes on Proposition 8, the California ballot measure overruling a state Supreme Court judgment that legalized same-sex marriage. Conservatives and African Americans in North Carolina recently teamed up to pass a measure defining marriage as legal only between a man and a woman. It is no mistake that billboards have begun springing up around the country showing a black child with the words “Endangered Species” printed near the child.
I will not paint every black church as exploiting their congregations, they are are many out there supporting issues that matter to the community they serve and they’re many out there that are genuinely opposed to gay marriage and abortion on the merits.
An internal memorandum from one of the country’s leading organizations against same-sex marriage outlined a plan to help its cause by exploiting unease among blacks over the issue. “The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies,” the memo says, describing an initiative called the “Not a Civil Right Project.” In 2004, President George W. Bush won 12% percent of the African American vote which may not seem like much, but take a look into the numbers.
Although black evangelicals still voted overwhelmingly for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, they gave Bush the cushion he needed to bag Ohio and win the White House. Many blacks also loathed Kerry’s perceived support of abortion. In polls, Kerry got 20 percent less support from black conservative evangelicals than Democratic presidential contender Al Gore received in 2000. In Ohio, the gay marriage ban helped bump up the black vote for Bush by seven percentage points, to 16 percent. Bush scored a similar gain with black voters in the battleground state of Florida, where 13 percent of the African-American vote contributed to his comfortable victory. Those pastors who campaigned for Bush were rewarded with money from the Bush’s White House Faith Based Initiative Office.
I personally believe everything that God has made is good and that includes homosexuals, liars, and fornicators. We all fall short of God’s grace and our job is not to discriminate against other sufferers of the gospel.
Homophobia in the African-American church must come to an end, it is damaging to the church. It is increasingly dangerous when some leaders in the church have been involved in homosexual relationships themselves. The silence in the church is probably why the Center for Disease Control reported that HIV infections are up sharply among black gay and bisexual men under the age of 30 — the only race and risk group in the United States to experience a significant increase between 2006 and 2009.
It is time for a more meaningful dialogue to occur in the African-American church. Remember the church is within you, not the brick and mortar building you attend.