Black Clergy Leadership Discourages Black Voters Not to Vote on Election Day

By: Victor Trammell

Due to President Barack Obama’s pro-gay marriage stance, black clergy members across the country are not willing to urge black voters to participate in the upcoming election.

 This could adversely affect Obama because  black Christian communities across the country turned out to vote in record numbers to help him get elected in 2008.

 Black pastors all over America have expressed disappointment in the president for anouncing this past May that he backed same-sex marriage. African-Americans are more conservative when it comes to issues of religion, crime, and education.

 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney does not offer them much of a real choice, however.  Many black clergymen still have problems with his Mormon faith because the religion banned men of African descent from the priesthood.

Obama won 95 percent of black voters in 2008 and is likely to get an overwhelming majority again. However, without that same support, the presidential race could go either way because every vote counts. The November election is expected to be a tight one.

“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. He recently held an interview with TheGrio.com

Bernard’s endorsement is much sought after in New York and beyond. He claims he voted for Obama in 2008.  However, Beneard said he’s unsure how he’ll vote this year.

It is not known how widespread the sentiment is that African-American Christians would be better off not voting at all. Despite their doubts concerning the candidates, many blacks contend they have fought too hard for the vote to not show up on election day.

“This is the first time in black church history that I’m aware of that black pastors have encouraged their parishioners not to vote,” Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant told the Washington Informer in August. Bryant, who opposes gay marriage, said the president’s position on marriage is “at the heart of the problem.”

The issues at hand affecting the 2012 campaign have led to complex conversations about faith, politics and voting. The Rev. George Nelson Jr., senior pastor of Grace Fellowship Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, participated in a conference call with other African-American pastors the day after Obama’s announcement. The ministers sought to collectively oppose gay marriage. Nelson claimed that Obama’s statement had caused a “storm” in the African-American community.

Still, he said “I would never vote for a man like Romney,” because Nelson has been taught in the Southern Baptist Convention that Mormonism is a cult. Nelson said he plans to vote, but did not reveal which candidate he would support.

“Because of those that made sacrifices in days gone by and some greater than others with their lives,” he wrote in an e-mail. “It would be totally foolish for me to mention staying away from the polls.”

Romney has pledged to uphold conservative stances on social issues, including opposing abortion and gay marriage. However, many black pastors worry about his Mormon beliefs. Christians generally do not see Mormonism as part of historic Christianity, although Mormons do.

The 2012 election seems to cast a shadow of doubt on the black community because it poses the opportunity tho vote for what many in the nation call “the lesser of two evils.” Considering the uncertain economic state of this country, it would behoove voters to educate themselves on seeing which candidate would do a better job of revitalizing the economy.

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