The New York Daily News spoke to a couple of black pastors who say they’re not excited about choosing between a presidential candidate who’s a Mormon (a religion that some see as apart from orthodox Christianity, and others worry about because of its racist past) and another who supports marriage equality. One said, “It’s the first time in black church history that I’m aware of that black pastors have encouraged their parishioners not to vote.”
However, the Daily News didn’t find anyone who actually admitted to encouraging his flock to stay home on Election Day, making us think this story might be just a little overblown.
To the extent that religious leaders really are using the pulpit to encourage voluntary voter suppression, we can certainly understand their desire to vote their conscience, but newsflash: Either Obama or Romney is going to win, regardless of what they do. We can only hope that between now and Nov. 6, someone finds something in the Bible that loosely translates to, “People died for your right to vote, so get over it and choose a candidate.”
“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.
It’s unclear just how widespread the sentiment is that African-American Christians would be better off not voting at all. Many pastors have said that despite their misgivings about the candidates, blacks have fought too hard for the vote to ever stay away from the polls….
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 …
The Rev. Dwight McKissic, a prominent Southern Baptist and black preacher, describes himself as a political independent who didn’t support Obama in 2008 because of his position on social issues. McKissic said 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.”
McKissic’s Mormon resolution failed.
On Election Day, McKissic said, “I plan to go fishing.”