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The Black Commentator: The Leasing of the Black Church

President Bush, white conservatives, and their black flunkies have bastardized the faith-based (which is not just Christian) movement to control particularly black churches and create a white-controlled, fundamentalist Christian “New World Order.”

— Reverend Reynard N. Blake, Jr., in his essay, “The Black Church: Now, More Than Ever

Damn. And he’s just getting started. The Black Commentator, a blog that is a helluva read is worth a regular surf stop. Up front now is this incredible piece by Rev. Blake. He rips both the Dems and Bush new ones over their respective dysfunctional, manipulative relationships with the black faith community.

For the Dems, it’s the condescending, show-up-at-the-last-minute-for-your vote treatment that has been the hallmark of national elections for decades. As I noted in my post “Congressman Mel Watt: framing gay rights for the black community“, what Democratic leadership has failed to see, even as they try to shave votes from the political center, is that the GOP has successfully done the same thing. It’s dangerous to think that black voters are blindly loyal to the Democratic party because “they have no other place to go.” Yeah they do, and they can also make their displeasure known by sitting out election day.

Progressive and black voices within the party are being pushed aside in order to make the Party a light version of the Republican Party by directing its energies to win the votes of those in the “Red States,” “Soccer Moms,” and “NASCAR Dads,” which are code words for white lower-or middle-class voters. The Democratic Party has so much disrespect for black communities they believe if they make some cursory or last-minute visit to churches, the NAACP, Urban League, or black neighborhoods, blacks will come out in large numbers and vote for their candidates. Historically, African-Americans have responded to these weak overtures; but according to the May 25 edition of the newsletter, Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman, Howard Dean feels a rising tide of black resentment:

Black voters are upset with the Democratic Party for coming around just weeks before elections seeking their votes, party chairman Howard Dean said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press.

Taking black voters for granted is a long-standing problem for the party that dates to the 1960s, said Dean, who promised changes in strategy even as he cited diversity at the top of the Democratic National Committee.

"Blacks are annoyed with the Democratic Party because we ask them for their votes four weeks before the election instead of being in the community now and that’s a mistake I’m trying to fix," he said. "There’s a new generation of African-American leaders and a new generation of African Americans. We can’t go out and say could you vote for us because we were so helpful during the civil-rights era."

As condescending as this is, the most distressing behavior by the Democrats is the brain-dead, asleep-at-the-wheel attitude as Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman cultivate, with our tax dollars for faith-based initiatives, relationships with black churches. These pastors have no problem bellying up to the bar either. It’s disgusting, and Blake goes off on it (my emphasis below).

In terms of politics, some black churches are being rented via faith-based grants to help them develop or maintain programs. On the surface, this looks like normal, everyday resource development for nonprofit corporations (many churches have the Internal Revenue Service [IRS] designation 501 (c) 3). However, when the Bush administration uses these ministers as “photo-ops” and these ministers sing Bush’s praises because they got grant money or because he resonates their concerns regarding gay rights issues or abortion, it creates a number of illusions: that significant numbers of black people support him and that George Bush cares about nonwhite and/or poor people. Conversely, these illusions are far from the truth, especially since he does not support any raises in the minimum wage and believes in a new type of “voodoo economics” (a term used by Ronald Reagan criticizing George Herbert Walker Bush’s [“Dubya’s” father] approach to address the nation’s economy during the 1980 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination) to craft a budget with deep cuts to social programs while making the budget to fund the occupation of Iraq a separate document.

This is red meat — why have the Dems not called these pastors out, by showing them how the church is being used? (Oh, they’re scared of the PC backlash, right? Folks, sometimes you have to grow a pair and call it like you see it). These pious pigs-at-the-trough are too busy shuffling and taking the handout and thanking Massa Bush for fighting for the sanctity of marriage and the “culture of life” that they have taken leave of their senses, or more charitably, decided they want to play ball with the party in power. Yes, the illusion is that they are best buddies with Bush and Co. How wrong they are, notes Blake.

Essentially, Bush, et al have become self-appointed, Koran-desecrating, Christian prophets and begun a religious/social/cultural Armageddon with the premise that “our (Christian, conservative, white) God is better than your God (insert your choice here).” Some black ministers are pawns in this war and are allowing a new sort of blasphemy to surface. Nevertheless, this does not mean that black faith-based organizations should not seek government grant money because it is our tax money; it is just that this money should be sought and accepted with extreme caution. Any mistakes in the use of this money make have serious consequences for our black religious leaders, especially if they are unafraid to challenge the president’s policies. And for those black conservative leaders that, in addition to getting government grant money, believe that they also have access and influence with the president remember this: just because you can walk through the front door of the White House does not mean you are IN the White House!

Go read the rest of this lengthy “amen” piece. [House Blenders know that this topic has been covered in many posts before.]

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding