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Black clergy decry Trump policies as detrimental to African-Americans

The Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins speaks with other faith leaders at a news conference May 15, 2017, in Washington, D.C., responding to the Trump administration's policies. Photo courtesy of Ray Chen/Office of Public Witness, PCUSA

WASHINGTON (RNS) Black clergy, standing in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, declared that President Trump is not living up to his promise of being the “greatest champion” for the nation’s African-Americans.

At a news conference Monday (May 15) in front of the United Methodist Building, leaders of congregations and denominations called on fellow African-Americans to speak up and urged Congress to vote down proposed plans by the new administration that they believe would help the rich and hurt the sick and the poor.

The Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner, co-chair of the National African American Clergy Network, cited proposed budget plans that she said would hinder the progress of children in public and charter schools and Justice Department plans that would especially put African-Americans at risk of stricter mandatory sentences.

“The very survival of fellow Americans depends on members of Congress and those in the administration exercising the backbone that is supposed to be part of their leadership,” she said.

The church officials countered Trump’s campaign question — “What do you have to lose?” — to African-Americans.

“We are indeed in trouble, we are indeed losing,” said the Rev. Leslie Copeland-Tune, director of the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative, who criticized the administration’s plans to cut nutrition programs for the poor.

“Every statistic shows that these policies will negatively impact African-Americans, poor people, the elderly and the most vulnerable among us. But we refuse to be silent. These policies are not OK.”

The Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins, executive director of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Office of Public Witness, said the black clergy would like to meet with Trump and discuss ways to improve job opportunities, protect voting rights and work to reduce racial divisions in the nation.

And Hawkins had one more request of the president:

“Stop tweeting,” he said. “Brother, get yourself a good night’s sleep. And if you can’t stop, tweet some good news for the country. We could sure use it.”

About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.

35 Comments

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  • I hope they can meet with Trump. This country needs help in so many ways I hope they speak not only for African Americans, but for all of us who feel defeated, demoralized, negated regardless of race.

  • Likewise, I hope Trump would agree to meet with them to discuss issues.

    But at the same time, I see some Hillary-esque “Usual Liberal Suspects” in there (an obvious example is Barbara Williams-Skinner), so that’s a potential red flag. This group is not really representative of all black Christians.

    (I definitely want to see more “nutrition programs for poor children”, and “improved job opportunities.” But I also want to see a clear religious liberty emphasis like what Trump is offering.

    And specifically on the part of these black clergy, I want to see a clear public rejection of legalized gay marriage and transgenderism, because the two items are an undeniable threat to the already embattled black family.)

  • Of course! A 70% illegitimacy rate and legions of black men in prison and generations on welfare are not as important as two guys getting married.

    Does bigotry make you stupid?

  • I did say “already embattled”, did I not?

    So you think you’re going to preach to US about babies born out of wedlock, or young black men in prison, or intergenerational welfare, as if WE don’t already know about them? Hmm?

    But the fact is that gay marriage and transgenderism are ABSOLUTELY a threat to black families. Our problems, which you spelled out, have totally taught us that black men & black women are NOT interchangable for dating, marriage, family, and childraising. Each complementary gender is vital.

    So WE need Man+Woman together in the home as much as possible, no same-sex mess. The gay movement has clearly hurt the black families and the black youth.

  • So in short, you are trying to blame gay people for the malfeasance of heterosexuals. Because those three problems are absolutely nothing compared to two white guys in the hills getting married. Or maybe, it causes black men to father multiple children on multiple women, commit jail worthy crimes, not get an education, and intergenerational welfare.

    Bigotry apparently has its effects.

    But now here is your chance. Explain how my marriage has hurt any black family, ever. Be specific. Be sure to have some facts, some definite logical connections, some Thing besides a mere assertion that it must be so because Jesus. Or because you think so.

    This should be Rich.

  • It’s obvious the black community didn’t believe him as so few voted for him. Sadly, despite record turnout overall, the black vote was down considerably from 2012.

  • There’s not an ounce of logic in your argument. Unless you believe gays are seducing and luring hetero men and women into same-sex marriage – which is absurd.

  • Okay then, let’s begin. I need to say this response is NOT an attack on you, but before it’s over, you will automatically interpret it as a full-scale attack.

    This post will be simple, just two main points, but it will be pile-up documented. A pile-up, yes. Again, you asked for this response. Your gay “marriage” is a clear and documentable threat to the black family and youth.

    (One other item, readers: this RNS article is about black clergy, remember? Even the liberal black clergy refer to Jesus all the time. So don’t forget what Jesus said in Matt. 19:4-5, hm? Black folks ignore Jesus at their peril, and as Ben suggested, WE already got lots of peril these days!!)

    Two very clear harms to the black family and youth, will now be presented.

    ***

    First Ben, your “gay marriage” (which is honestly not a marriage)…
    “… (abolishes) in law the principle of marriage as a conjugal union and reducing it to nothing other than sexual or romantic companionship, or domestic partnership. The unavoidable message is a profoundly false and damaging one: that children do not need a mother and a father in a permanent complementary bond.” — Jacqueline C. Rivers (PhD from Harvard, she’s a Black Church & Policy scholar).

    (Additional necessary note: “…To insist on the truth that neither mothers nor fathers are expendable is not to dishonor anyone. Every human being is beloved and precious in God’s sight. The mere issue of an individual’s sexual inclinations cannot alter this.” — ibid, Rivers.)

    So your gay thing, Ben, is sending a direct message to black men, black women, and most of all the black children and teens, that opposite-sex genders are both unnecessary and expendable within the marriage / child-raising arena. Yet they clearly are NOT, as reflected in the black community’s problems.
    So yes, your “gay marriage” sets a damaging and corrosive example.

    ****

    Secondly, your example is a 100 percent distortion of marriage. That distortion IS a genuine spike-laden trap that YOU are openly influencing SSA-afflicted black youth and adults to fall directly into. This is no joke.

    “Just as it distorts marriage to add (a racial requirement), it also distorts marriage to subtract (the opposite-sex gender requirement).”
    — Bishop Gilbert Thompson, (Black Ministerial Alliance of Boston, quoted by Boston Globe)

    “… (Fighting) for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we’re going to do with marriage when we get there, you know, because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change and it should change. And again I don’t think it should exist.”
    — Lesbian activist Masha Gessen, 2012, viral video, quoted by Glenn Beck and also by AnswersInGenesis.

    “Traditionally, a commitment to monogamy — to the extent that it was not simply an adjunct of property law, a vehicle for guaranteeing property rights and succession — was the chief mode of sacrifice imposed upon or adopted by married couples as a means of showing their sacred valuing of their relation. But gay men have realized that while couples may choose to restrict sexual activity in order to show their love for each other, it is not necessary for this purpose; there are many other ways to manifest and ritualize commitment. And so monogamy (it appears) is not an essential component of love and marriage.

    — Gay Activist Andrew Sullivan, in his pre-Obergefell book “Virtually Normal”. This is important: He’s arguing for gay marriage, but notice he’s saying that society should NOT expect gay men to be monogamous even when gay marriage is legal. That’s a CLEAR distortion of marriage, and it absolutely hurts the black family. (And again, it encourages SSA-afflicted black adults & youth to go down down a wrong, distorted and tragic pathway.)

    The End (but not really!)

  • Not absurd at all, Jim. Very much rational, and there’s many people, with and without advanced degrees, and even a few gays, who have been trying to get people to think it over (the very important need for gender-complementarity).

    As for your last sentence, I’ve been propositioned myself twice (to my knowledge), and yet I am a 200 percent woman-lovin’ man WITHOUT exception, period.

    (Of course, I didn’t bother telling them all that stuff, I simply told them that their proposition was “against my religion.” You bring up **religion** to ’em, that’s just like creating a Starship Force Field — stops most of ’em in their tracks.)

    But make no mistake: All you have to do these days, is just look good and young. No telling who or what will go after you, Lord have mercy! Meanwhile please do some more research on this issue. No kidding; this stuff is very serious.

  • You’re right, not many blacks voted for Trump. But it was enough to stop Hillary.

    Eight percent of blacks openly voted for Trump, with an additional small percentage simply staying home and withdrawing their votes entirely. Florida, all by itself, reportedly contained enough black votes to put Hillary in the White House, but that clearly didn’t pan out.

    Hillary did not pay attention to black religious-liberty and moral concerns at all. She thought we all wanted to happily work on her widdle plantation, and keep our black mouths shut except to sing “Kum-Ba-Yah” and rubber-stamp her secularist Far-Left public policies. She was wrong.

  • Really. The same old crap, brought out one more time as if it meant something.

    “It abolishes the principle of marriage”. Yet heterosexuals can STILL get married, as often and badly as they wish, despite the nonsense that it “abolishes the principle of marriage.” Contradict reality much? And black men still father children on women they are not married to, and you are still trying to make us responsible for the bad behavior of heterosexuals.

    “Children need a mother and a father.”That apparently isn’t true. They need parents of whatever gender that love and protect them. And it STILL has nothing to do with gay people getting married. If you are really concerned about that, abolish heterosexual divorce. But that would be inconvenient. And you are still trying to blame gay people for heterosexual malfeasance. If children don’t have a mother and a father, maybe you should be talking to the parents that produced those children. The orphanages are full– but perhaps not full enough for anti gay so called Christians– of the cast off, unwanted productsof irresponsible heterosexual reproduction.

    “100% distortion of marriage” only in the minds of bigots. My marriage is an example, and a good one. You want a distortion of marriage? Let’s talk again about a 25%-33% heterosexual adultery rate, and 40% heterosexual divorce rate, and Newt Gingrich. And let’s not forget all of those black men fathering multiple children on multiple black women, never bothering to get married, etc etc etc.

    Marsha gessen represents no one but herself. I don’t really care what she has to say. Ditto Andrew sullivan. They represent not me, nor anyone I know. They sell books in the case of sullivan, and have opinions in the case of both. They were not elected to any office at Gay Central. No one claims them as leaders.

    Monogamy is not a requirement for marriage, except in theory. It isn’t now for heterosexuals, and never has been, except in theory. You talk about it
    , of course, but look away when heterosexuals don’t. Bill oReilly, Grabby McPussy, Ted haggard, newt Gingrich, and billy grahams relative, whatever his name was. and the list will just go on forever. Talk to heterosexuals. Again. Or admit that they represent all heterosexuals the way gessen and sullivan represent all gay people. But you won’t.

    And I have had enough. It’s the same old bigoted crap, detached from facts, logic, and experience, detached from reality, recycled one more time. Those crap arguments convince no one but bigots. You had a chance to present some actual facts. But you chose to vomit forth the usual nonsense.

  • Then Talk to man+woman, and stop blaming us for your failures to do so and make a case,

  • First Ben, your “gay marriage” (which is honestly not a marriage)…

    You keep forgetting that marriage licenses are issued by the state. It is a secular contract and can be redefined by the state. Remember that the minister states: “By the power invested in me by the state of ________, I now pronounce you…”. It simply is not a religious matter.


  • The Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner, co-chair of the National African American Clergy Network, cited proposed budget plans that will hinder the progress of children in public and charter schools and Justice Department plans that would especially put African-Americans at risk of stricter mandatory sentences.

    “The very survival of fellow Americans depends on members of Congress and those in the administration exercising the backbone that is supposed to be part of their leadership,” she said.

    Wow, where do I begin?

    1. Proposed budget plans will NOT hinder the progress of (black) children in putlic and charter schools NEARLY as much as the the caring influence of black parents. Too many black children don’t arrive at school well-fed and clothed and ready to learn. Beyond providing good food, clothing and books in the home for their children, black parents must support the teachers and school administrators as they try to maintain order and a positive learning environment in their classrooms. I was once a public educator myself, and some of my friends remain active in the profession. The very biggest fear educators have when dealing with black parents, is the propensity of some to cry “discrimination” and “racism” any time their children are disciplined for misbehavior!

    2. By FAR the biggest risk to black inmates is NOT the risk of stricter mandatory sentences! The biggest risk is the fact that they made the choice to commit crimes in the first place! These black ministers need to concentrate their efforts on making sure the young people in their flocks see the importance of steering clear of misbehavior in school (see above) and staying in school to get a good education. This will help them find good jobs and make a decent living for their families. THIS should be the focus of black clergy instead of looking to politics as the solution long AFTER things are broken!

    3. Regarding “members of Congress and those in the administration exercising the backbone that is supposed to be part of their leadership,” The backbones of those in President Trump’s administration are not NEARLY as important in dealing with black pathologies, as the faith and backgones of black clerty in leveraging the Christian message to confront and cure these persistant pathologies! It’s far too easy to blame “whitey,” instead of applying the faith and backbone to take responsibility for problems rooted in their communities!

    Politics–whether liberal or conservative, is far less influential than are Black Christians with the faith and backbone to confront their situation and make progress in improving the lot of their youth!

  • Talking to man+woman (and also laity plus clergy, by the way), is exactly what is taking place Ben — and THIS forum is one of the places where that conversation is taking place. (The case is remarkably easy to make, btw.)

  • Indeed, gay marriage supporters initially had a lot of success trying to pretend that marriage was reducible to nothing more than a civil contract between any & every set of consenting adults. Merely “a piece of paper.” Hence the victorious Obergefell decision.

    Unfortunately for such supporters, the 5-4 Obergefell split decision clearly did NOT stop the diverse, widespread national insistence that marriage is NOT reducible to such a thing.

    (Indeed, 98 percent of the planet Earth does NOT even accept such a redefinition of marriage!).

    Marriage continues to be defined intrinsically, as part of the human constitution itself, as a unique, exclusive, indispensably gender-complementarian institution. The survival of the black family in America has always depended on it. Black clergy, take note.

  • Umm, you specifically requested me to offer this, remember?
    You asked for the analysis. Why complain now?

  • I’ll just respond to one item here. I’m content to let the readers read our posts, and come to their own conclusions.

    (Although honestly, I may still throw in some more jabs anyway, not to “win the debate”, but just to throw ’em).

    Jacqueline Price did NOT say that heterosexuals could no longer get married, as you suggested. Instead, Price spelled out the direct harm that’s caused by the (gay marriage) legal abolishment of the basis of marriage as a “conjugal”, man+woman, gender-complementarian union. She said it clearly.

    The direct result of the abolishment she mentioned, is America sending a “profoundly false and damaging message” to the black family and youth: that children do not need a mother and a father in a permanent complementary bond.

  • Nonsense. It wasn’t abolished. As I said, heterosexuals can still get married as a
    Badly and as often as they wish. If someone thinks otherwise– a contention manufactured out of religious paranoia and bigoted nonsense– it still was manufactured out of cheap cloth.

  • No, you are talking to ME! Not to heterosexuals, not to black families, and certainly, not to reality. It is just one of your never ending attacks on gay people, and one more example of the religious fetish of trying to blame those nasty sinners over there for your own problems.

    The black family has been if free fall for a few centuries. It is the black family itself, in a sense, that is demonstrating that as an aggregate, it thinks that marriage, the presence of parents, and sexual morality simply don’t matter.

    It has nothing to do with me or any gay person, or our marriages. What it does have to do with is the kind of prejudice consistently presented as rationality and morality, when it is neither. And it is a most damning failure of your church leaders to do one, small damn thing about it. They, like you, prefer to blame other people, and take no responsibility.

    Enough.

  • Ben, this is simply one of those not-gonna-agree times. It is what it is.

    I still have the RNS black clergy article in mind, and my original post said specifically what I agreed with from this particular liberal-mainline group, and also what I would like to see in a major area where THEY appear to be ducking.

    You chose to respond, even to the unusual point of requesting ME to directly explain what you asked me to explain. (Did you think I wouldn’t do it?)

    But as you say, “Enough.” I’m not asking you, the gay activist, to change course. I’m asking THEM, the liberal-mainline black clergy.

  • We’ll never agree when it comes to bigotry, whether” justified” as sincere religious belief or admitted for what it is. I doubt those liberal black pastors share your prejudices, and certainly not your willingness to believe illogical nonsense.

    You can only convince people who think like you do.

  • Actually Ms. Geesen may have a point as I found additional detail as to what she was talking about which related to gay families and the need to create units of relationships and responsibilities based on biology as well. So not just marriage but creating family units (which I think is her reference to no change being a lie) and definitely a reshaping of the nuclear family. But nuclear families are only one form of family arrangement for straight people of all ethnic/racial backgrounds anyway. There are common law arrangements, single parent families, blended families and inter-generational families or some permutation thereof. ( I once knew someone who claimed to have 6 sets of grandparents.)

    While you seem to lay the blame on gay marriage, I might suggest it might have more to do with incarceration rates for black males. In 2000 there were 791,600 black men in jail or prison and 603,032 enrolled in colleges or universities. But in 1980 there were 143,000 black men in jail or prison and 463,700 enrolled in colleges or universities. Or economics with an unemployment rate significantly higher for blacks than whites. So the black clergy referenced education, mandatory sentencing and job opportunities. Pretty sure those are the biggies – the issues with the greatest benefit.

  • the head of the naacp in my small town is Reverand Fails.
    Reverand has been busted for soliciting prostitutes 3 times.
    The good Reverand continues to collect a donation plate from his church weekly
    cry about policies just like these guys and
    the colored girls say
    Doo do doo, doo do doo, doo do doo

  • No! no! NO!

    Everything is the fault of them evil, nasty gays. EVERYTHING! I TELL YOU!

    It couldn’t possibly be anything else.

  • There is no one single item to blame. There are simply a number of serious threats affecting the black family and black youth, and ALL of them are serious.

    Including the ones mentioned by the black liberal-mainline clergy. And also including legalized gay marriage (which is not actually marriage but a distortion of marriage), and transgenderism.

  • Absolute bigoted nonsense. Now the very small percentage of trans people are causing the decline of the black family?

    There is no bar so low but you can’t find a way under it,

  • I think the data says otherwise. The decline of the black family and increase of single mothers in the American black community appears to correlate with other factors occurring at a much earlier time period than legalized gay marriage.

    Having raised four children who all appear to be heterosexual, I expect that they will all continue to get married at some point forming opposite sex marriages – or choose not to marry. Gay marriage has no influence on those choices. University education and an orientation to managing careers and achieving economic stability has been the primary influences as to their choices.

    Gay marriage is a threat to certain conservative Christian theology – hence Scott Lively’s (Focus on the Family) suggestion as to creating alliances with conservative Muslims who share similar view.

  • Heterosexuals are not all that big on whitebread fantasies of het marriage. there’s always been infidelity, divorce, and men having two wives in two towns. The gheys have nothing to do with it.

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