In this exclusive opinion piece, noted Baltimore-based minister Rev. Dr. Jamal-Harrison Bryant responds to President Obama’s recent declaration of support for same-sex marriages.
The African American community has beamed with tremendous pride at the work of the first Black President, Barack Obama, in his first term: Bringing the troops home; creating jobs.; doubling the amount of Pell Grants available for college students; saving the automotive industry; appointing a record number of women & Latinos to strategic positions; stopping Osama Bin Laden; standing up for Trayvon Martin; acknowledging the Occupy Movement; addressing predatory lending; passing historic health care reform… amongst so many other accomplishments.
Given this, I was taken aback by President Obama‚Äôs public endorsement of same sex marriage on Tuesday.
My feelings of disappointment arise not only from the fact that I don‚Äôt agree with the President, but also because his announcement came so suddenly, and without any warning to the Black church community.
The church at its core is to be a refuge for all of God‚Äôs children, including homosexuals. There is a gay community within the Black church. We can‚Äôt ignore them or bash them. However, the church has no shades of gray when it comes to marriage. Our faith reserves marriage for a man and a woman. President Obama, as a product of the Black church, is fully aware of that. Knowing this, the President made this endorsement without calling or preparing any of us. For many of us, it felt like a betrayal.
The Black church has been there for him from the start. As a 3rd generation member the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest African American Protestant denomination in the country, I remember in 2008 when then-Senator Obama came to our general conference, the day after we unanimously passed legislation against same sex marriages. The Bishops of the church took him in private quarters and surrounded him, covering him in prayer. The photo of this moment soon went viral. After the inauguration, the President was met with an onslaught of disrespect, opposition and attack. But he has always been covered in prayer and supported in large measure by the Black church community. Even when national evangelical Franklin Graham openly questioned the President‚Äôs Christianity, the NAACP went with national religious leaders from different denominations to demand an apology.
Given this history, it‚Äôs not hard to understand why many Black pastors feel jilted. Many have hastened to declare that they will no longer support the President. But when I reflect about this current impasse with Barack Obama, I am reminded of a recent challenge I had as a father. Read More
Dr. Jamal-Harrison Bryant is the pastor of the Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore, Md. SOURCE: Read More