African-American Pastors Call for Discrimination

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A coalition of conservative Christian groups has petitioned a federal court to support Michigan’s ban on gay marriage.

No big surprise.

Here’s what should surprise: the coalition includes hundreds of African-American pastors and churches. Gay marriage would “destroy the backbone of our society,” said Flint’s Reverend Stacey Swimp at a local rally of Black ministers.

Uh, no. Here’s what’s destroying heterosexual marriage in the African-American community: Heterosexual African-Americans. They marry at a dramatically lower rate than any other ethnic or racial group in America.

“We love everybody, but we don’t love the [gay] lifestyle,” said Reverend Rex Evans of Ypsilanti. “There’s a small group of people trying to destroy [America’s] foundation, and it’s time to take our nation back.”

Take our nation back from whom? While one-quarter of American children live in a household without their biological father, more than half of Black kids are burdened with such parental behavior. The failed war on drugs and our dysfunctional penal system are part of the problem, but what about community norms and individual responsibility? For Hispanic and other non-Black children of color, the number of kids living without their biological father is 28%, comparable to Whites.

This coalition of African-American pastors needs a history lesson, too. Until I was 17 years old, interracial marriage was illegal in this country. White pastors defended these laws, citing centuries of tradition and the Bible—the same justification now being used by Black pastors against gay Americans.

“We believe in the Judeo-Christian conception which America was founded upon,” says Bay City’s Reverend Rader Johnson. Yes, the tradition which has legitimized slavery for 2,000 years. You’ll recall that white pastors cited the Good Book in the years before the Civil War. They cited it in opposing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Every American is free to dislike whomever they want. But every American is NOT free to select who should get the rights (you know, to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) that they get. These African-American pastors are complaining that Michigan voters passed a law denying marriage and its accompanying privileges (regarding taxes, insurance, hospitals, inheritance, etc.) to gay people, which the courts should respect.

Shall we take a vote on which ethnic, racial, or religious group should get which rights? Wasn’t it only recently that the bloodiest war in American history was fought over who could vote on whose rights? Isn’t that how the ancestors of these Black pastors were enslaved in the first place—by popular consensus?

These self-righteous Black pastors who use the Bible, religion, and tradition to justify their demand for discrimination against others should blush with shame. They have failed their communities, whose behavior repudiates their better values. Now they fail their communities by descending to their worst clannish instincts. And like all strongly religious people, they blame sex for their moral collapse when confronted by their own fear and ignorance.

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