The King holiday provided Obama with an national opportunity to test his threat to tell black churches they are wrong about homosexuality being sinful. Speaking at the politically inclined Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta this past Sunday, Obama slipped in a line coded to let the homosexual community know he was keeping their interests alive in the black church. This after he was extensively criticized by gay activists for recruiting former homosexual Pastor Donnie McClurkin to perform on Obama’s “Change” gospel tour in South Carolina.
In response to the criticism, Obama said, “There’s a problem of homophobia in the African-American community. I will go into churches, I will go into meetings with ministers and say, “I disagree with you on these issues. This is not how I interpret my faith.” But the fact that we’re having a conversation, I think, allows the possibly that I will change their minds, make them more tolerant of these issues.”
Obama then told the audience at Ebenezer:
“For most of this country’s history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man’s inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays – on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.
And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community.
We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them.
A different tale for two churches
But just a week earlier in Las Vegas, Senator Obama spoke from the pulpit at Pentecostal Temple COGIC (pictured right greeting church “mothers”). His message there was decidedly more “sermonic” telling the church:
“God told Moses that the torch would be passed to Joshua. Joshua was going to lead the chosen people to the promised land. When Joshua found this out he was scared. But God told him that it was time for a new generation to take the lead. Today is no different, it is time for the Joshua Generation to lead. I am part of that generation but no Joshua can lead without those behind him.”
But there he made no mention of gays and lesbians, nor of a need to include them. Perhaps that’s because most COGIC congregations are theologically opposed to homosexuality, thus his audience would have been turned off his remarks.
Ebenezer is part of the Progressive Baptist Convention which espouses a much more liberal social position, thus allowing its member churches autonomous interpretation of the Bible’s moral standards.
photo credits: Ebenezer Church, AP; Pentecostal Temple Church, Reuters