Last Thursday evening I sat in the green room of the Hannity and Colmes show. It had already been a long week. I was thrilled to have an opportunity to point the nation to my new book Personal Faith, Public Policy. On the other hand, I was concerned about how black viewers would respond to my statements about Jeremiah Wright or Senator Obama. There has been an unspoken sentiment among blacks that we have to support Senator Obama at all costs.
One black minister after another had appeared on TV defending Rev. Wright and Senator Obama. No leading ministers wanted to throw Dr. Wright “under the bus.” Therefore, they characterized liberation theology as a mainstream belief system, although it is not embraced by strongly evangelical, black congregations. Their defense of Dr. Wright’s views made the entire black church seem prejudiced.
Once on the air, my jitters disappeared. It was a great opportunity for me to share that the Church must lead the way in solving the problem of race in America. My loyalty to biblical faith is greater than my allegiance to my ethnic group. Many ministers under 40 years of age share my feeling, while those over 60 are often entrenched in an antiquated, old school, civil rights mindset.
After the program, I made a decision to be a greater agent of racial reconciliation than ever before. In 1981, I led a team that pioneered a new church in Corning, New York that was 95 -97% white. As the senior leader, I had to confront my own anger and bitterness in order to develop the church. My white co-author, Tony Perkins, and I share a common goal to assist the Church in uniting to solve the seven most pressing problems of our day, including race.
We believe it’s time for all Americans to get past race based politics. The greatest bridge available to us is biblical faith and common values founded on the scriptures. Although change and unity have become new mantras for liberal voters, the most tested road map to get them there is biblical unity.
As I reflected on my whirlwind week, I thought about Senator Obama’s speech. The nation wanted to hear more about the Senator personal views and his faith. The real question on everyone’s mind was simply, “Is Obama a hypocrite?” Evangelicals of both parties wanted to examine the orthodoxy of his faith. “Is he really one of us?” is the concern of this huge voting block. Giving simple answers that addressed these questions would have served the Senator much better than his academic response.
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.