03 Jul 2006 Project 21 Press Release: Black Activists Criticize Efforts to Politicize Black Churches
Members of the black leadership network Project 21 are speaking out against the efforts by some left-leaning black religious leaders to politicize black houses of worship.
At the “National Conference and Revival for Social Justice in the Black Church” held in Dallas last week, Reverends Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Joseph Lowery exhorted the leaders of black churches to reorient themselves and their congregations to fight for social justice issues instead of addressing moral issues such as homosexuality and abortion.
“It’s wrong for Jackson and Sharpton to tell ministers how to conduct their ministry. Clearly, they are trying to convert religious leaders into lobbyists for their self-serving political agenda,” said Project 21 senior fellow Deneen Moore. “Black ministers should not serve at the altar of their divisive rhetoric. Black churches should reinforce the importance of a strong nuclear family unit which will yield economic benefits and moral values that will elevate blacks in society.”
According to a report on the conference in the Dallas Morning News, Reverend Jackson charged that black churches have strayed for their past work on social justice issues to join what he calls a new culture of “inspiration addicts.” He added: “Faith must be accompanied by action and works to make sense.” One of these apparent actions is his boycott of the BP oil company for alleged price gouging. Jackson reportedly enlisted the support of approximately 100 conference attendees.
Reverend Sharpton said he sought to mobilize black congregations to participate in the fall mid-term elections. He said: “[A]s the entire Congress is up, one-third of the Senate is up and local government officials are up for re-election, it is time for [the] Christian right to meet the right Christians and begin the fight in the home state of our president.” Under IRS rules, churches are prohibited from engaging in lobbying and political campaigning.
“I have spent a large part of my personal time over the last two years educating people about the Partnership for Prescription Assistance and Medicare Part D. That, however, does not replace my primary function as a priest and bishop,” said Project 21 member Council Nedd, a bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Chesapeake. “With all due respect to Reverend Sharpton and the other ministers meeting in Dallas, my primary call is to proclaim, as a minister of the Gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. My ministry is not beholden to any political establishment. On Judgment Day, I would rather it said of me that I won one soul for Christ, rather than I got one million people to the polls on Election Day.”
For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s website at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html. New Visions Commentaries can be found at https://nationalcenter.org/P21NewVisions.html.