For the last few years, I have had a mental image of many of our popular black leaders shuffling into smoke-filled back rooms and receiving “twenty pieces of silver” in exchange for the black community’s vote. Gone are the days of piety and personal purity that could have created a moral avalanche in our country. No one has the moral authority or spiritual clout to prick the conscience of either the black community or our nation. Our so-called “leaders” have become rich and famous, while many young black men and women die prematurely from drugs, languish in generational poverty, and suffer in an environment that allows gang violence. It’s time to stop the madness!
The statistics tell me that 47% of black adults are Bible-believing Christians. The 53% of blacks reading this piece---who are not followers of Christ---live in such close contact with these people, that my words and concepts will not be foreign to you. For this reason, I will speak to you as a brother in Christ. I want to call on all African Americans of faith to go the polls in two weeks and vote their values and their faith. Your vote will determine the moral direction of the nation for the next few years.
We cannot sit back and wait for others to do the right thing or make the right move. It is time for blacks to take a leadership role in the nation. We must recognize the unique position to which we have been called by God. We can no longer be guilty of following blind men. Instead, we must cut a new path.
With God on our side, we are not a minority; we are a majority! If men like Martin Luther King, Jr. had not dared to speak out as prophets of God against an evil and corrupt system, life for many of us would be unbearable today. The evils of pre-civil rights America would still be in full force. The courage needed today is a little different than the courage it took to stand up to dogs and fire hoses. Our civil rights heroes needed the courage to die for the cause. Today we must have the boldness to endure being misunderstood while we rebuild America’s moral core.
We all know the issues that are of concern to the black community in this election.
First of all, we are concerned about the war simply because so many of our family and friends are in the military. Yet, I cannot vote out one party because they “started the war,” while condoning the genocidal murder of black babies within our borders. A little more than 2,000 people have died in Iraq and we don’t take that lightly. But what about the millions of black babies sacrificed on the altar of personal convenience? The most recent statistics say that 36% of the babies aborted in the U.S. are black babies---that amounts to 12 to 14 million casualties in America’s war on life since Roe versus Wade.
Second, immigration reform is important to African Americans. The current liberal amnesty and porous borders approach to immigration is a part of what I call, “The New Slavery.” Hispanic workers are taken advantage of by corporate employers and subjected to unsafe work environments and poor wages because of their current illegal status. This has directly affected black employment opportunities at the lower end of the employment spectrum. The result is a black unemployment level of over 10% versus a national unemployment level which is under 5%. We should advocate closing the borders, encouraging immigrants to obey the laws of the land, and refuse blanket amnesty.
In addition, wealth creation (home and business ownership), education reform, criminal justice reform, health care access, protection of marriage, and promoting a culture of life are all hot buttons for thinking African Americans who embrace a biblical worldview.
With only two weeks left before the election, we must remind our black friends about their responsibility to vote their core values. Marriage and abortion are not “wedge issues.” If black families disintegrate any further, we may slip into a negative population-growth mode. More dangerous than that, our community may implode if we do not stabilize our marriages, our children, and our extended families. The wedge issues, if examined closely, become racial bridge issues. Today, fatherlessness is destabilizing families of all races. We want morality with purpose and public policy that embraces both personal righteousness and social justice. The entire body of Christ can decide to make a moral stand. It may take years for us to get to our final destination, but we must begin the journey now.
We must select wise candidates instead of choosing between the labels of “liberal” versus “conservative.” There was a time in the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, and ‘70’s in which we could substitute the moniker “conservative” for “racist.” Or we could have assumed that anyone that talked endlessly about state’s rights was actually for segregation, black oppression, and even lynching. That is not the case today. Exhort your fellow church members to vote their values this November. Saint Francis of Assisi is reputed to have said, “Preach the gospel at all times! If necessary, use words!” In the same spirit, let’s preach the gospel by voting our values. At the end of the day, we will feel like we have been represented, not raped by our leaders.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.