Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Black Clergy

I agree with Steve's main point about Bush and black clergy. An excerpt:

These ministers have large congregations but very little political power. They have to tread carefully when dealing with Bush and the GOP, because their parishioners are deeply mistrustful of the GOP. If Rivers got up in his church and said support Mitt Romney, he'd be stared at. What people don't get is that political power in the church doesn't come from the pulpit, but is reflected by the pulpit. If the minister is to the right of the congregation, his words may be listened to, but then ignored.

I put it this way: Bush's outreach is not going to work in any substantial way because most black clergy have divested themselves of the role of political activist that was so much more prominent in the 60's. They don't step up in any prominent way when the ish really goes down -- when the cops brutalize a black kid, it's Al Sharpton you see on TV whoopin' and hollerin' on the kid's behalf, not TD Jakes -- so they lack the foundation on which to base a political mobilization effort. A fund-raising effort, yes. A volunteering effort, yes. These are classic "Christian" modes of self expression. But influencing political attitudes of black Americans takes more than a visible moral grounding. It takes a visible political/activist grounding, which too few black religious leaders seem to have these days.


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