Saturday, November 22, 2008

Black churches weigh value, risk of political messages

Reading this article from the Austin Weekly News should cause one question to come to mind. Should the "Black church" continue to play a significant role in political life?
The Rev. Keith Gordon of Pilgrim Baptist Church on the South Side describes his Sunday sermons as verse-by-verse Bible teaching.

Gordon, who grew up in Englewood, said his job at the pulpit is to defend against sin, not necessarily to address social issues. Another black Chicago pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., became nationally known for some of his past sermons criticizing U.S. policy and the government when videos of those sermons surfaced during the presidential primaries in the spring. Wright had been Barack Obama's pastor until the presidential candidate broke ties with the South Side pastor after more recent comments by Wright over the summer.

Wright spoke at Northwestern University earlier this month, insisting that even Ray Charles could see how several news organizations had misrepresented his messages and beliefs. Gordon, 38, said he cannot afford a similar scenario.

"It might come back to haunt you later on," said Pilgrim's pastor of the last two years. "And by haunt I mean you never know what other people might interpret or assume we're saying. Anything can be misconstrued."

Vincent Wimbush, religion professor at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., explained the standards for black pastors are different because history has taught society to fear strong, independent black males.

"Someone has to take the time to get to know the textures and rhythms that are part of black life and a black church," Wimbush said. "The onus is not on Wright to be weak and appease others. [Society] needs to come to terms with what it is that makes them fearful in the first place."
Well the first part of this quote is correct a pastor's job isn't exactly to address social issues at the same time I have no problem with any religious person addressing them. Better a church than the government.

At the same time is this about fearing strong and independent black males? I'm not sure I know the answer to that, but using the Wright example is controversial. Wright is certainly a strong personality with certain convictions as to what's going on in the world. I don't often agree with them but that's just my opinion.

Maybe this might be related to this issue or perhaps it's not but I found this on the Daily Dish this week, but I figure this brief quote could apply to the black church:
"I have no belief in the virtue or durability of official philosophies, and when it comes to state religions, I have always thought that, though they may perhaps sometimes momentarily serve the interests of political power, they are always sooner or later fatal for the church.

Nor am I one of those who think that to exalt religion in the eyes of the people and to do honor to the spirituality of religious teaching, it is good to give its ministers indirectly a political influence which the laws refuse.

I am so deeply convinced of the almost inevitable dangers which face beliefs when their interpreters take part in public affairs, and so firmly persuaded that at all costs Christianity must be maintained among the new democracies that I would rather shut priests up within their sanctuaries than allow them to leave them."
I suppose I could say that the Black church isn't as concerned about maintaining Christian values in the country as it is forcing society to live up to their supposedly Christian ideals. And not just Christian ideals but also the secular ideas upon which this nation is based. That all men are created equal, that we all have natural rights, that we have the right to reach our full potential (or I could say life, liberty and pursuit of happiness).

At the same time mixing religion and politics can be dangerous. It's just as true for a Black minister as it is for a member of the Christian Right. I suppose it's easy to look at politics in a much different light than politcs, but mix the two together I'm not sure it won't be problematic.

Both have to believe that they are right. Of course one might want to believe their right because the people wills it. Especially since well a politician seeks to maintain the support of the people or gain the support of the people.

A person with relgious convictions however may not be as concerned about the will of the people. They might be more concerned with what pleases God. That can be problematic because who can determine what pleases God?

Well I know it's a little heady but I'm sure someone had an idea here. I open up the floor for comments.

1 comment:

knowitall said...

The liberal illuminati are really changing the way things are. It was unknown for the churches to tell their congregation how to vote, the Bible would once decide that. Not anymore.

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