During the HRC/LOGO Democratic presidential forum last Thursday, Illinois Senator Barack Obama was asked about homophobia in the religious black community, and how he would handle the intolerance coming out of some pulpits in this community, which has been a bonding point with the professional anti-gay white evangelical movement.
Part of his response, which includes what he said to a group of black ministers at a forum in Tennessee:
I specifically talked about the degree to which the notion of gay marriage in black churches has been used to divide, has been used to distract. I specifically pointed out that if there’s any pastor here who can point out a marriage that has been broken up as a consequence of seeing two men or two women holding hands, then we –you should tell me, because I haven’t seen any evidence of it. .
And what I’ve also said — and what I’ve also said is, if you think that issue is more important to the black family, which is under siege — if you think that’s more important than the fact that black men don’t have any jobs and are struggling in the inner cities, then I profoundly disagree with you.
…And the black community, I think, has a diversity of opinion, as you and I both know. There are people who recognize that if we’re going to talk about justice and civil rights and fairness, that should apply to all people, not just some. And there are some folks who, coming out of the church, have, you know, elevated one line in Romans above the Sermon in the Mount.
And so my job as a leader, not just of African-Americans but hopefully as a leader of Americans, is to tell the truth, which is this has been a political football that’s been used. It is unfortunate. It’s got to stop. And when it stops, we will then be able to address the legitimate and serious concerns that face the black family.
It set off this response from the infamously anti-gay tool that trots out to defend religion-based bigotry, Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., of the High Impact Leadership Coalition (which paid for this outlandish ad in Roll Call and USA Today against hate crimes legislation). From OneNewsNow, the “news” organ of the American Family Association:
“He’s dead wrong concerning what the Scriptures say, and more importantly, he’s dead wrong in terms of the Scriptures and in terms of reading the culture.The culture has gone in a different direction, and the devaluation of marriage is a major problem, and I believe that he’s a very dangerous man because he sounds reasonable, he sounds engaging, but he’s misinformed”
Bishop Jackson calls Obama a “junior or infant Christian speaking out as though he were an ambassador of the faith.” Jackson says he does not buy the notion that the homosexual rights movement is similar to the black civil rights movement either.
“I think what most African-Americans buy is that there should be justice for all, in terms of the outworking of civil law. What they do not buy is that we should rename sin as something righteous and holy,” explains Jackson.
Jackson says the average person in a black community says, “wrong is wrong, and right is right, and even if I’m not living right myself, I refuse to call that which is morally wrong right.”
Yes, and some in the evangelical movement that you are in bed with now, Bishop Jackson, thought segregation was biblically justified, and that it was “morally wrong” for people of different races to marry, based on scripture. Slavery is endorsed in the bible, as well as stoning adulterers. Cherry picking on the issue of gay rights — and we’re talking about civil, not religious rights — doesn’t fly, particularly with the tragic levels of HIV/AIDS in the black community. This sort of holier-than-thou ignorance and hypocrisy is inexcusable, because it shuts down rational dialogue, silencing and intimidating black LGBTs and potential allies. That’s the whole point of the professional anti-gay religion-based bigotry machine.
* High Impact, Low Maintenance: The GOP is counting on Bishop Harry Jackson and his High Impact Leadership Coalition to bring African Americans to the Party. [You must click over to see the photo of Jackson as the spot of color in a stage full of right-wing luminaries back in 2005 -- Schafly, Perkins, Ted Haggard (!), Zell Miller, Daddy Dobson, Bill Donahue, and more.]
* Reporting from the NBJC Second Annual Black Church Summit
* Clergy Against Hate web site
* Faith in America (an organization that challenges individuals and institutions that use religion to justify discrimination and persecution of LGBT citizens).