Black Clergy in U.S. Urge Congregants to Not Vote

Black Clergy in U.S. Urge Congregants to Not Vote
# 19 September 2012 03:47 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. In 2008, U.S. President Barack Obama won 95-percent of the African-American vote. But in this year’s presidential election, black voters might be thinking twice about whether they should cast their vote for the president again, APA reports quoting RIA Novosti.
Some African-American clergy across the U.S. are urging members of their congregations to not cast a vote for either party in November, because Obama supports gay marriage and Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith once prohibited blacks from entering into the priesthood.
On Tuesday, Reverend William Dwight McKissic, Sr., pastor of the Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, wrote in a blog post that he finds both Obama and Romney, “totally unacceptable.”
In the post entitled, “A Right to Vote Is Not a Requirement to Vote,” McKissic said, “The bad news is…come November 7, this country will have either reelected a man and in effect endorsed a platform that affirms same-sex marriage or will have elected a president who for the first time in American history ascribes to a ‘Bible’ that teaches that ‘blackness of skin’ is a curse.”
But, McKissic added that “God will still be God and His kingdom will still rule over all,” and that he will respect whichever candidate is ultimately elected.
While McKissic’s comments could signal a divide among African-American voters, many black church leaders disagree with him, including Reverend Anthony Evans, the president of the National Black Church Initiative.
“We disagree with all the clergy who are asking people to sit this one out, because they disagree with the president on same sex marriage or disagree with Romney and his Mormonism,” Evans said in an interview on Tuesday.
Derek Turner, a spokesman for the NAACP, said his organization is urging citizens to vote and that people “fought long and hard and for their lives to get the privilege to vote.”
Obama’s announcement in May that he supported same-sex marriage caused an uproar throughout the U.S. and within the black Christian community, including from the Coalition of African-American Pastors, which is led by Reverend William Owens of Memphis.
Owens recently denounced Obama’s decision at a press conference in Washington, DC, saying that the president was taking for granted that the black community is “in his pocket.” He also started a “Commitment to Traditional Marriage Pledge,” in defiance of Obama’s backing of the gay community.
But, Reverend William Barber II, the North Carolina NAACP state conference president, said the opposition to Obama’s political stance is not the first disagreement within the African-American community, and that many of the black clergy who are speaking out against Obama were “anti-President Obama before this year.”
“From a media standpoint you have to understand that the African-American community is not monolithic,” he said. “There were ministers who actually stood up against Martin Luther King in Montgomery, and there were ministers during slavery time that preached it was okay to be a slave.”
Reverend Amos Brown, who studied under Martin Luther King, said the same-sex marriage debate is a “non-issue” and that he won’t tell people how to live their personal lives, which he said, is “between themselves, their conscience and their God.”
“The black community must wise up to the fact that all this brew ha-ha about marriage equality is a red herring to divert our focus and attention away from the things that really matter, such as Pell Grants for our children, so our children can get a higher education, better public schools, equality, health care and public safety for our people,” Brown said.
The National Urban League Policy Institute recently released a study indicating that if fewer African-American voters turn out to the polls in the 2012 election, it could have a detrimental effect on Obama in swing states, such as Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina.
Both campaigns have been making a big push to register voters during the past few months, and Evans said it is going to be a very difficult election for Obama in a time when every single vote matters, due to high black unemployment figures, opposition to the war in Afghanistan, and some in the black community disagreeing with his stance on same-sex marriage.
But, regardless, he said that his organization is “urging all our members to vote.”
Neither the Obama nor the Romney campaigns returned phone calls asking them to respond to the issue of clergy telling black voters to not vote. But on Monday the Obama campaign announced a new initiative called “People of Faith for Obama,” which includes a video and insight for supporters and potential voters into his Christian values.
Ross Dixon, a member of the economic committee for the Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta, Inc., said voters need to decide which viewpoint to take on the same-sex marriage debate, either a constitutional stance agreeing that there should be marriage equality or a biblical perspective where they think marriage should be between a man and a woman.
“We think of this as more of a wedge by Republicans to keep the black clergy in confusion and at the end of the day we see blacks supporting Obama 100-percent,” he said.