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Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown Headshot

With Liberty and Justice for All

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Throughout the diabolical devastation of slavery leading to the turbulent tragedies and injustices endured during the Jim Crow era and the civil rights movement, many southern evangelical preachers were on the wrong side of the issues. History parenthetically records that in 1845, during a gathering of White Southern Baptist ministers in Augusta, Georgia, there was a rippling internal controversy around whether slave owners could be missionaries in foreign countries while owning slaves. Thus, on the heels of being emphatically divided on the issue of slavery, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed by breaking away from the American Baptist Home Mission Society.

As this southern contingency of evangelical preachers said no to giving up their slaves, they also aligned themselves to saying no to the human rights of African Americans, thus the beginning of a long pattern of lining up on the wrong side of the issues when it came to standing for liberty and justice for all. Revisiting this bleak chapter of American History is critical in understanding the relevancy of current events as it relates to the religious right in 2012. To understand the history of the southern evangelical movement and evolution of it is to understand how modern-day southern evangelicals have developed an alliance with a right-wing agenda that continues to, with vigor, divide, devastate and destroy human and civil rights for all.

Let us fast forward to North Carolinians' recently held voting for the state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages and civil unions. There is no subtle coincidence that staunch white southern evangelicals, The National Organization for Marriage (who designed a secret strategic plan in 2010 to drive a wedge between gays and blacks), and the right wing of the Republican Party, have aligned themselves for political gain on this issue though they would have you believe it is purely a theological stance consistent with biblical beliefs. It therefore becomes apparent, and cannot be minimized, that the political gain referenced in this scenario is the divisive onslaught to make the ban of gay marriages and civil unions a wedge issue between blacks and gays to further weaken and fragment the African American voting block for President Obama in November, while courting much needed Hispanic voters for southern evangelical support for Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Before comprehensively delving into the details of what was at stake with North Carolina's ballot initiative and what platform is being staged, you must first revisit recent history, as well as not-so-recent history and pose the questions of what side of civil rights did the southern evangelical preacher or right wing political base stand when it came to issues such as equal protection under the law, desegregation, women's rights and voting rights, just to name a few. What side or position did the Reverend Billy and Franklin Grahams of the worlds stand on during the civil rights movement? Especially in the south where an 80-year-old black man was still considered to be, and referred to, as 'boy'? Blacks could not register to vote unless they could count how many bubbles there were in a bar of soap!

For generations, politics and religion have made for strange bed fellows, all the more reason for black people in particular to not be used as a political tool in the vote for a ban on gay marriage in the State of North Carolina. Or for them to get caught up in the middle of an age-old divisive tactic and strategies all aimed at promoting a right wing, money and power driven agenda and more aggressively the conspiracy against the re-election of President Obama.

While I personally do not perform same-sex marriages because of my Baptist faith tradition, I will not be found guilty of being intolerant. I was supportive of the president before this decision and I am still supportive of him. It goes without saying that he gave his personal reasons for his position and made very clear that those who for religious reasons did not agree with him, he still had respect for their faith traditions. The bible says in the words of Jesus, 'we must be wise as serpents and humble as doves.' Therefore ought not African American's still support this president because our main goal is to make sure that he is re-elected. We should all know this fact; that the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas said during the Republican primary that Mitt Romney was a Mormon and he would not support Mr. Romney because his religion was a cult. However, this pastor has come out boldly endorsing Mitt Romney for president. We should all see that this man can, in one instance, withhold support of a man because of his religious conviction and then close rank and support that same man because of his political choice.

In 1960, some blacks, including preachers, did not support President John F. Kennedy because he was Catholic, but Mr. Kennedy was elected and the nation did not go to pot. We must go beyond our faith traditions and support President Obama so that our economy will be improved, quality brought to our schools, safety brought to our communities and we can all experience peace in the world.

America is a democracy and not a theocracy. And in our democracy, ALL law abiding citizens are entitled to equal protection under the law. I would also caution my evangelical preachers to remember that though they claim to be in defense of marriage that the record reveals that they have done a poor job, considering that the divorce rate in America is the highest, according to the U.S. Census, in the Bible belt.

And we must consider that the hypocrisy and determination to deny the rights of the LGBT community as a political strategy in hopes to regain the White House using fear, falsehoods, inaccuracies and division in this era will be met with fair minded, loving and sensible citizens that will not sit idly or quietly by and watch attempts to rewind the clock. To southern evangelical preachers in particular and the right-wing movement, half-hearted apologies from slavery to the countless insults and unprecedented insinuations hurled at President Obama as an attempt to divide and conquer the black and the gay community for political posturing and positioning will not go unchecked. Despite attempts to re-enact history, the overwhelming majority of forward thinking Americans will not be moved and never again allow anyone to forget that America is still to be one nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

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