Friday, November 7, 2008

Faith-Based Racism: A Difference After the Civil War

After the Civil War, I mean today, faith-based racism in the U.S. cannot simply hide behind the sermons of white preachers and their white-only congregations.

Listen, today, to the voices of African American pastors (some conservative pastors) speaking out publicly and nationally against racism in the Christian church:

"I think in the eagerness to protect the right to life issues, there were some things said, not about that issue, that were not always fair and that were insensitive that need to be rethought," said Bishop T.D. Jakes, a prominent African-American pastor and founder of The Potter's House, a theologically conservative megachurch in Dallas. "I would love to see black and white Christians find common ground, and a deeper understanding of each other's needs."

"What they did is insult our biblical understanding," said [Derrick W.] Hutchins, [a leader in the Church of God in Christ], who voted for Obama and has backed Democrats in past presidential elections. "The white religious right-wing determined that if you didn't vote for McCain, you were not meeting a standard of the Bible."

The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, an African-American Methodist pastor from Houston, said that some white Christian conservatives had helped fuel false rumors that Obama was Muslim, by questioning whether he was truly Christian and calling his support for abortion rights "demonic" and "diabolical." Caldwell, an Obama supporter who backed President Bush in the past two elections, said other candidates have diverged dramatically from Christian teachings in their policies and personal lives and have not been maligned as Obama has. "Some members of the Christian community want to label him as the anti-Christ," said Caldwell. "What has he done to deserve that label, when none of his predecessors are so characterized?"

Bishop Harry Jackson, an African-American pastor of Hope Christian Church in Washington, D.C., and a McCain supporter, said questions about Obama's more liberal reading of Scripture was fair game. Jackson noted that Obama became an observant Christian through the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Videos of Wright's sermons that circulated widely earlier this year showed him cursing the government and accusing it of conspiring against blacks. Obama eventually left the church. "Many, many people question whether Barack Obama had been under a legitimate Christian leadership figure," Jackson said. "I personally never ascribed any vitriolic character assassination to it."

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