Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rift Over Gay Unions Reflects Battle New to Black Churches

This article in the Washington Post ( brings up an issue that I have commented on before: black churches are focusing efforts and resources on fighting gay marriage that would be better directed to the many needs of the larger black community. (The same can be said about majority white denominations that likewise should be focussing their attention on more serious issues) Worse yet, black ministers are being cynically manipulated by anti-black, anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-immigrant white Christianists to push the Christianists anti-gay agenda. These highlights show the battle between the Christianist view point and a Gospel of love (the pastors of Covent Baptist Church are pictured at left):
Never in a "million years" did Robert Renix think he would find a Baptist church that would accept someone like him: a black Baptist gay man. Never mind one that would allow what happened one Saturday last month, when a tuxedo-clad Renix stood in front of the pulpit at Covenant Baptist Church in Anacostia, exchanging vows with his partner, Antonio Long. It didn't turn out to be that simple, though.

Most major historically black denominations have taken strong stances against homosexuality. The National Baptist Convention USA Inc., the nation's largest predominantly black denomination, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church forbid clergy from officiating at ceremonies for same-sex couples, and Pentecostal denominations such as the Church of God in Christ consider homosexuality a sin. The Progressive National Baptist Convention, of which Covenant Baptist is a member, has not taken a stand on homosexuality or same-sex unions.

"We, as African Americans, should be the last people in the world, based on our history, to turn around and oppress others," said Dennis Wiley, who took over as Covenant's pastor from his father, the Rev. H. Wesley Wiley, 22 years ago.

But embracing gays can come at a cost. Victory Church, a black megachurch near Atlanta, lost 2,500 members -- half of its congregation -- after its pastor, the Rev. Kenneth L. Samuel, started preaching acceptance of gays several years ago. "I did not know that my theological view would be so negatively reacted to," Samuel said. Even now, he said, "we are ostracized and criticized throughout the city by pastors and religious people of all types, certainly within the black community."

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