Black church summit on gay rights
Michelle Goldberg printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 12:33:28 PM EST
A group called the National Black Justice Coalition is convening a summit of African-American religious leaders to talk about gay rights. It will take place later this month in Atlanta, with Al Sharpton and Dr. Yvette Flunder, Senior Pastor of the United Church of Christ's City of Refuge Church in San Francisco, headlining. This could be the start of something important, because homophobia has been a singularly powerful force in garnering black evangelical support for the GOP.
In 2004 in Ohio, Bush received 16 percent of the African-American vote, compared to 11 percent nationally -- a result many observers attributed to the high profile of that state's anti-gay marriage campaign. Black pastors are inevitably featured prominently at anti-gay rallies and events. Their presence often represents an attempt to blunt any charges of bigotry and to nullify gay activists' attempts to link their struggle to the broader civil rights movement. (One popular video from the 1990s, "Gay Rights, Special Rights," features Trent Lott -- that noted civil rights crusader -- decrying gay rights as a threatening cooptation of Martin Luther King's noble crusade). Many anti-gay marriage rallies are also billed as racial reconciliation events, with black and white pastors joining hands, united by common bonds of prejudice.

Thankfully, some liberal African-American religious figures are starting to fight back. "Rev. Sharpton recently announced an initiative to vigorously challenge homophobia in the Black Church," says the National Black Justice Coalition website. "This will be his first participation in a meeting that will deal directly with that initiative...The Summit is a direct response to anti-marriage proponents pandering to the black church for their own agenda. It is imperative that religious leaders realize and recognize the contributions of the LGBT community and the impact marriage discrimination will have on African American children and families."




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This is wonderful that this is coming out (pardon the unintentional pun) and that the African-American church community is starting to speak out in regards to this.

One other site of similar intent (fighting homophobia in the African-American church community in particular) is Operation Rebirth, which actively fights homophobia in African-American churches (and even includes forms where one can report homophobic sermons, as well as resources for people who have been unfortunately subject to abuse because they are LGBT including info on spiritual abuse and a list of African-American churches nationwide welcoming of the LGBT community).

by dogemperor on Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 12:48:13 PM EST


And the fact that anti-gay bigots are usually allied with interests opposite those of the black community in general, should also be relevant here.  A quick look at history makes this point quite clear.  


by gg on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:05:16 AM EST


It's puzzling that the black church is so much more conservative on same-sex marriage than it is on other divisive issues such as abortion. The answer may lie in the invisibility of the black gay and lesbian community. While the black church embraces single mothers, drug addicts, and ex-cons, it does not embrace black homosexuals largely because they haven't organized to make their presence felt. Instead, black gays and lesbians have been shamed and silenced into a kind of "don't ask, don't tell" relationship with the church.

Off course it is a welcome aspect from someone's point of view but few remember that there were significant members of the black church including the National Baptist Convention led by Dr. J.H. Jackson in the '50s that vehemently opposed the civil rights movement and didn't want progressive ministers like Dr. King to have any confrontations with the government. So much so, that was one of the major factors in Dr. King's decision to create the Southern Christian Leadership Conference along with Los Angeles ministers Rev. James Lawson and the late Dr. Thomas Kilgore.

These black pastors, who have aligned themselves with white Christian evangelicals and Conservatives, are the ideological descendents of the same people who opposed Dr. King in the '50s but today want to claim his message as their own in the name of protecting the institution of marriage, thereby giving new meaning to the name "Uncle Tom."

There's a coordinated religious campaign to get ministers across the state to speak out against gays and the debate is not about religion but more about politics, power and keeping that political power in the hands of people who stood in the schoolhouse door, fighting for segregation and against the full inclusion of blacks in society.

by dogbert on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 08:33:18 AM EST



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