If 'God Said' Don't Vote For Obama, Would You Listen?
New group of black preachers want African Americans to take their votes elsewhere
Remember this photo?
Sure you do; this photo of a group of the black faithful literally laying hands on Barack Obama is probably hanging in one of your family member's homes right now.
Four years ago, it seemed like members of the Black Church had all but crowned Obama their political messiah. The man who was running to become the first black president was on the receiving end of every prayer and holy ghost dance at the time.
But that time seems so long ago.
In 2012, some members of the Black Church are taking the bottoms of their Jesus pieces and drawing one big line in the sand this election season.
Ever since President Obama allowed his stance on gay marriage to "evolve" into full support of it, a declaration he made on ABC's "Good Morning America," some black preachers have been acting like women scorned.
"We are disappointed in our president," the Rev. William Owens, founder of the Coalition of African American Pastors, said at a September rally denouncing Obama and the Democratic Party. "We love our president and we pray for our president.... [but black pastors] are drinking his Kool-Aid and it's more poisonous than [cult leader] Jim Jones's was."
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Last month, the Rev. A.R. Bernard, pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in New York, made headlines when he led a charge encouraging black preachers to discourage African Americans from voting at all on Election Day because of the president's stance on gay marriage.
"When President Obama made the public statement on gay marriage, I think it put a question in our minds as to what direction he's taking the nation," Bernard said in an interview.
While black preachers aren't coming out and encouraging their congregations to go out and vote for Mormon Mitt Romney, they are letting it be known that their support for the president will not come as easily as it did in 2008 when 95 percent of blacks voted for Obama. And if one group of black preachers has anything to do with it, a quarter of those who voted for Obama four years ago will change their votes this year and decide based on what the group contends the Bible says.
This newly formed group calls itself "God Said."
According to verbiage on its website:
Our goal is to switch 25% of African American voters from voting their political party to voting their biblical values.
Our vision is to impact the social and cultural climate; to bring about a notable, non-partisan support of natural marriage and natural family life in the African American community and society as a whole.
"We have been called upon to repeat God’s message to the African American community," reads the mission statement at GodSaid.org. "The events of the past weeks and our national leaders that support same-sex marriage have offended us. We will bring this message to the entire country over the next few weeks in order to encourage them to vote His values this November by voting for like-minded candidates instead of long-held party affiliations."
God Said was founded by Apostle Claver Kamau-Imani (pictured below), a Tea Party Republican and Houston pastor.
You may recognize him as the man behind that "GOP is the New Black" billboard that went up in Texas and North Carolina last year. The organization currently has an advisory board of 23 people who range from preachers to filmmakers, including anti-abortion poster child Ryan Bomberger. There are plans for the group's membership to visit as many as 4,000 pulpits around the country, including in key swing states Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Florida, to get their message out. They also plan on buying up some television and radio advertising to get to the Christians who don't go to church on Sundays.
"The black community is among the most religious in America and we are offended that President Obama has announced his support of same-sex marriage, that the NAACP has blindly supported the secular views of the Democratic Party, and that their national platform plainly supports same-sex marriage,” Kamau-Imani said in a press release. “I am confident that this message will be well received and acted upon on Election Day.”
However, not all black preachers are feeling their message.
For what it's worth, Obama, following his same-sex marriage comments on "Good Morning America," worked to seal any fissures with the black religious community when he held a conference call with a handful of preachers. Some of them have decided to continue supporting the president.
“I don’t believe that the majority of the Black Church sees that as an issue that kills the deal,” Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, chair of the Conference of National Black Churches, told Loop 21 in September. “Beyond homosexual issues, there’s the issue of healthcare, education for our children…justice in the Supreme Court. There are so many things that we can’t be a single-focus community.”
The Rev. Derrick Harkins, the Democratic National Committee's faith outreach director, echoes that sentiment.
"How dare anyone say to somebody that you ought not exercise the franchise that people literally have breathed their life's effort and life's blood into for us to have, and especially now when we have the opportunity to continue the work that we've begun."
The truth of the matter is -- God probably doesn't even follow politics.