Black conservatives come in many sizes, shapes, and party affiliations. The next two years are a perfect time for wise conservatives to build bridges with the leaders of the “new black church”. These church leaders are classical social conservatives. They believe that government programs alone cannot stop crime, poverty, or poor schools. The new black church is not waiting for a handout. They are promoting immediate change through wiser, biblically-informed choices and personal accountability.
They are using a new brand of black power to transform the nation. These men and women all believe that they can change America because of their faith in personal transformation (through religious conversion) and community transformation (through education and economic development). White conservatives, especially evangelical Christians, must learn new methods to advance their agenda; if they are going to protect America against a liberal deluge of poor policies and laws. The chief instrument in their tool kit will be bridge building and coalition formation.
Last week I was interviewed on a national religious program with three leaders of black super-mega churches. These men represent the new black church --- power, passion, and promise. Their churches were all in excess of 14,000 members with the largest church having over 24,000 members. Each one has implemented a successful local plan that has transformed their respective communities. These church models can be replicated to help transform America.
The pastors were Dr. Floyd Flake of New York, Pastor James Meeks of Chicago, and Bishop Eddie Long of Atlanta. These men represent a “civil rights” revolution that is very compatible with the tenants of the conservative movement. Let me take a moment to introduce these pioneers and a few of their concepts to you.
Dr. Flake served 11 years as a U.S. Congressman from New York. During his years of service, he never forgot that he was called to serve his community’s needs. He never let partisan party rhetoric obscure his vision of a faith-based approach to transforming his community. On many important issues he stood with Republicans to the chagrin of his Democratic party members. Over the years he and his church helped to build 600 homes in Queens, New York. This area is now one of America’s most affluent neighborhoods, instead of the ghetto it was in the 1980’s. Today, he is the President of Wilberforce University in addition to his responsibilities as Senior Pastor of Allen Temple Church.
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.