AP: Black Pastors Say 'Stay Home' Election Day

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    AP: Black Pastors Say 'Stay Home' Election Day
    Sunday, September 16, 2012 12:41 PM


    Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day. That's a worrisome message for the nation's first African-American president, who can't afford to lose any voters from his base in a tight race.


    In 2008, Obama won 95 percent of black voters and is likely to get an overwhelming majority again. But any loss of votes would sting.

    "When President Obama made the public statement on gay marriage, I think it put a question in our minds as to what direction he's taking the nation," said the Rev. A.R. Bernard, founder of the predominantly African-American Christian Cultural Center in New York. Bernard, whose endorsement is much sought-after in New York and beyond, voted for Obama in 2008. He said he's unsure how he'll vote this year.


    Yet, Bryant last month told The Washington Informer, an African-American newsweekly, "This is the first time in black church history that I'm aware of that black pastors have encouraged their parishioners not to vote." Bryant, who opposes gay marriage, said the president's position on marriage is "at the heart" of the problem.

    Bryant was traveling and could not be reached for additional comment, his spokeswoman said.

    The circumstances of the 2012 campaign have led to complex conversations about faith, politics and voting.

    Still, he said "I would never vote for a man like Romney," because Nelson has been taught in the Southern Baptist Convention that Mormonism is a cult.

    Many Southern Baptist leaders have emphasized there are no religious obstacles to voting for a Mormon.

    Nelson planned to vote and has told others to do the same. He declined to say which candidate he would support.

    "Because of those that made sacrifices in days gone by and some greater than others with their lives. It would be totally foolish for me to mention staying away from the polls," he said in an email exchange.

    The Mormon community has grown more diverse, and the church has repeatedly condemned racism. However, while most Christian denominations have publicly repented for past discrimination, Latter-day Saints never formally apologized.

    Bernard is among the traditional Christians who voted for Obama in 2008 and are now undecided because of the president's support for gay marriage. But Bernard is also troubled by Romney's faith.



    "There's just no space in this campaign for casting aspersions on anyone's faith," Harkins said in a phone interview. "It's not morally upright. It's not ethically appropriate."

    The Rev. Howard-John Wesley, who leads the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Va., said he is telling his congregants, "Let's not make the election a decision about someone's salvation." "If you're going to take a tenet of a religion and let that dissuade you from voting, then we have to," discuss Mormon doctrine, Hill said. "We want folks to have a balanced view of both parties, but we can't do that without the facts."


    Obama's support for same-gender marriage "betrayed the Bible and the black church." Around the same time, McKissic was researching Mormonism for a sermon and decided to propose a resolution to the annual Southern Baptist Convention that would have condemned Mormon "racist teachings."

    On Election Day, McKissic said, "I plan to go fishing."


    AP: Black Pastors Say 'Stay Home' Election Day
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2012

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