These differences among whites and blacks cannot be explained by religiosity. When asked in a survey done in 2001 by the Pew Research Center about the personal importance of religion, 85 percent of blacks and 63 percent of whites responded "very important." On the social agenda, black and white churchgoers have very similar views. The president's faith based initiative polls more strongly among blacks in general than it does among his white evangelical base.
I think a key difference is that white churchgoers incorporate a view of limited government as part of their worldview and blacks, so far, do not. In the Pew survey, 34 percent of blacks and 26 percent of whites expressed confidence in the ability of government agencies to provide social services.
However, blacks are beginning to question the big-government approach that they've gotten from their Democratic leadership for the last 50 years. Republicans need to tap into this and help educate and build trust. The case for ownership and limited government as the antidote for poverty is compelling, as is the clear damage that the welfare state has caused in the inner cities.
Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie has been touring the country with boxing promoter Don King addressing black businessmen in the inner cities. But is this really the best way to reach black voters? Less than 3 percent of blacks own businesses and most of these are mom-and-pop operations with revenues of less than $150,000 per year.
The way to reach blacks is through the black church. Starbucks knows this. Its recent entry into the inner cities has been orchestrated through churches.
Nationwide, there are 65,000 black churches, with more than 20 million members and $50 billion in revenues. Republicans need to build on this base, already with Bush on social issues, and help blacks make the logical connection between their faith and the importance of individual freedom and personal responsibility.
Private Social Security accounts, health savings accounts and school choice will make only marginal differences in the lives of the wealthy. But for the poor, and those who want to move ahead in this society, they will make all the difference in the world. When black voters understand this, they will know what to do.
Star Parker is president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education ( www.urbancure.org ), and author of "Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can Do About It."
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