A List Of Issues The Black Church Should Really Be Worried About
Black preachers are paying too much attention to gay marriage.
Leading up to the 2008 Presidential election, the Black Church found itself in the national spotlight due to Rev. Jeremiah Wright's explosive criticism of how America has treated black people, and his close connection to then presidential candidate Barack Obama. The media (and some crafty Republicans) acted as if they blew the lid off of some anti-America institution, when really, all they did was re-broadcast what most black churchgoers hear every other Sunday in church.
Fast forward four years and a new election cycle later, the Black Church has been in the news for an entirely different reason. At first, President Obama had to slowly separate from his pastor and others like him. But now black pastors seem to be distancing themselves from Obama.
Ever since the president went on ABC's Good Morning America and said he was cool with gay marriage, some black preachers have acted as if he stepped on Jesus' foot and didn't say excuse me.
What started as just voicing displeasure with Obama's acceptance turned into a debate over whether or not to vote for him. As of earlier this week, a group of black preachers are now telling their congregants not to vote at all.
"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," said Rev. A.R. Bernard, founder of the predominantly African-American Christian Cultural Center in New York told the NY Daily News.
A stance like that may be proof that the Black church is continuing to lose sight of problems that effect its members and goers directly, everyday. "Don't let gay people get married" has usually been used as a distraction by Republican politicians when ever a war or some other pressing issue deserves more attention. Seeing as how the Black church seems to falling for the bait as well, we figured it would be a good idea to remind some of our preachers of things that are impacting the lives of the people that are filling up their sanctuaries every week.
NPR reports that of the more than 1 million people in the U.S. infected with HIV, nearly half are black and that AIDS is the primary killer of African-Americans ages 19 to 44, and the mortality rate is 10 times higher for black Americans than for whites. And yes, it is still true that Blacks only account for 13 percent of the U.S. population. Obviously, those gays that the black church seem to be so afraid of, are not the only ones with the deadly disease anymore. Instead of leading their flocks to believe that gay marriage will lead to the immediate downfall of society, maybe more of them should be more proactive like Washington, D.C.'s Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church that has began taking HIV/AIDS testing vans into the community to help people learn their status.
Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West's Poverty Tour may be the butt of many jokes, but they must be commended for bringing some attention to the America's most forgotten problem. The number of Americans living in poverty hit a 52-year high in 2011. Of them, 27.4 percent were African-Americans. While the myth of the churches doors always being open may not necessarily be true, they could open their mouths about black poverty more often. Since poor black people can't tithe as much as they would like (if at all) you would think that this would be more pressing issue than worrying about what someone is doing in their bedroom.
In 2011, the U.S. Office of Minority Health reported that four in five African-American women are obese or overweight. Four in five! While there may be no statistical evidence that can connect this to fish frys or black people carrying on the tradition of going out to eat after service, it's still a problem that the black church could lend its eye too. While it may not be the most popular thing to say at the moment, more churches should probably use their donations to build an onsite gym facility similar to Bishop Eddie Long's at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
We reported some kind of sort of, good news earlier this week. The black male graduation rate in America went up three percentage points this year. But the number of them graduating is still light years behind their white counterparts. The Anne E. Casey Foundation's data center reports that 84 percent of African American 4th graders are reading below their expected reading level. Preachers may thump their bibles often, but there is a good chance that the people they're talking to, can barely read one.
According to the Black Youth Project, gun violence was the leading cause of death among young blacks in 2008 and 2009. In the last two years we've seen Chicago's violence outrank that of Kabul, Los Angeles and New York City. Unfortunately, there have been instances where not even the church is a safe haven from bullets, preachers could at least try to have a larger presence in these neighborhoods. We'd like to think that people haven't gotten so bad that they'll shoot a preacher for trying to help, we hope.
The Black Church
Most definitely, there needs to be a mass house cleaning in the black church before it can go around telling others what they can't do. In the last two years we've seen black preachers get sued for sexual abuse, domestic violence and even trying to run their wife over with a car. One even sued Sprint for handing over his phone records to his wife who was suspicious of him cheating on her. Obviously regular marriage isn't working too well for some either.