Sunday, March 19, 2006

Are churches the key to black vote?

I was up early this morning and I couldn't get back to sleep. I just so happen to check out the feed digest over at Capitol Fax Blog and I find this jewel of an article about the black church and the black vote. I figured hey this is worth posting here.

I'm somewhat biased here because I really don't support the role the church has played in black politics or at least the ministers. The fact remains that they do play a role in politics and many candidates if they want to get elected and to have the black vote may very well have to stump there. If they don't go to an actual church service they may go to a church event.

For example, a few years ago I was at a church anniversary banquet where a lady running for judge, and excuse me for bringing up race here, she was a white lady. She was stumping not just making an appearance for the sake of it. Another time I went to a Sunday church service where Congressman Jesse Jackson spoke to the congregation. As faithful church goers black Americans are it turns out that the church is something of a reliable forum than anywhere else.

So let's get to the article here. At Trinity United Church of Christ there were hundreds of empty seats but what was key apparently that out of 10 Republican candidates invited to attend only one showed up. He was Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica running unopposed for the GOP nomination for County Board President. There is apparently a good reason for that...

Tom Swiss, executive director of the Cook County Republican Party, said numbers like that keep GOP candidates away from blacks.

"They've seen no vote change in the black community," he said. "They say 'Don't waste your time.'"

In a primary, Swiss said, the emphasis is getting a party's base to the polls. Republican candidates spend time with Republican voters; Democrats, with voters who conventionally vote Democratic.
This is what a retired prominent church pastor, Rev. Clay Evans said about the black church...

"Politicians know that the church is the hub of the black community," said the Rev. Clay Evans, retired pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. "There are votes there. They know if they get the minister to support them, that's thousands of votes they can get."
Rainbow/Push Chief Operating Officer Bonita Parker had this to say...

...politicians have what can be an easy road to victory: "You get a Meeks, you get a Brazier, you get a Johnnie Colemon (pastor at Christ Universal Temple) and Jeremiah Wright, and you've basically got the whole city covered."
Finally let's talk about Bishop Arthur M. Brazier who has said that...
"The greatest strides black people have made in this country since Franklin Delano Roosevelt have been under Democratic administrations."
He has called such notable local Democratic politicians such as Chicago's Mayor Daley, and both Senators Barack Obama and Dick Durbin as friends of his church. An issue that hs come up is that if a church goes a little too far in the political process that might jeopordize their tax exempt status. In fact Bishop Brazier attempts to make this distinction...

Brazier said he doesn't make formal endorsements for any candidate because Apostolic is a registered nonprofit organization and must remain politically nonpartisan.

"I will not tell anyone whom to vote for," Brazier said. "I will not say you should support so-and-so. That's not what I'm supposed to do."


Bill Baar said...

...there were hundreds of empty seats but what was key apparently that out of 10 Republican candidates invited to attend only one showed up.

This is huge mistake for Republicans. They ought to start wasting time with African Americans because it's not a waste...anything that chips away at margins helps... and it helps in the burbs too because it breaks down the image of Republicans as a country club party.

TEM said...

I agree with you: I, too, am uncomfortable with the mixing of politics and religion, especially in the Black community. Not only does the idea of religious leaders endorsing candidates, pushing political agendas, and (in some documented cases) telling their followers how to vote come across to me as dangerously close to state sanctioned religion, it also encourages the "blind faith" mentality I see in so many people at the discouragement of dissent, open thought, and ideological independence. I also don't believe that religious leaders of any kind should be allowed to run for office because of the same risks.

Full disclosure: I'm an atheist, so any mixing of religion and politics makes me uncomfortable. This country was supposed to be based on religious freedom, and a government free of religious influence. How can that happen when endorsements come from the pulpit? Or when the government pushes "faith based initiatives" as part of its agenda?

If you're into satire, there's a comic strip called "Candorville," drawn by Darrin Bell that's spoofing this periodically as part of its ongoing storyline.

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