Over the weekend I got an email from a friend of mine back in the midwest. He had seen my post on Friday about angry Christians and gay marriage and wanted to respond to it. He isn’t exactly a staunch conservative but he’s pretty reliably right of center on most things. He has always said he just doesn’t “get” homosexuality but admits it’s really none of his business. And although he’s a regular churchgoer he actually, if not sheepishly, agreed with me that American Christians are doing absolutely nothing for their image over this whole gay marriage debate. Or the birth control debate. Or the evolution debate. And so on and so forth.

However, he wanted to take issue with one aspect of my post and that was my implication that this is a strictly white Christian problem. “Have you seen some of the shit black church leaders have been saying since Obama’s interview?” he wrote. “They sound just as crazy as the white ones. But you and the media, you just don’t have the guts to call them out on it.”

I was being baited, obviously. But the more I thought about it the more I started to realize that he was right. And since I’m sure there are almost no standards of decency I haven’t violated, or groups of people I haven’t offended, I thought “Well shit, why not?”

“About two hours after declaring his support for same-sex marriage last week, President Obama gathered eight or so African-American ministers on a conference call to explain himself. He had struggled with the decision, he said, but had come to believe it was the right one.

The Rev. Joel C. Hunter, the pastor of a conservative megachurch in Florida, is one of the religious leaders President Obama spoke to after announcing his support of gay marriage.

The ministers, though, were not all as enthusiastic. A vocal few made it clear that the president’s stand on gay marriage might make it difficult for them to support his re-election.

“They were wrestling with their ability to get over his theological position,” said the Rev. Delman Coates, the pastor of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., who was on the call.

In the end, Mr. Coates, who supports civil marriages for gay men and lesbians, said that most of the pastors, regardless of their views on this issue, agreed to “work aggressively” on behalf of the president’s campaign. But not everyone. “Gay marriage is contrary to their understanding of Scripture,” Mr. Coates said. “There are people who are really wrestling with this.” – THE NEW YORK TIMES

Well golly. Nobody says you have to agree with The President or the idea of gay marriage or even approve of homosexuality. Although it wouldn’t kill you to find a more substantive argument than the old “scripture” standby. Why can’t people just admit they’re insecure? I mean, that’s really what this is all about.

But, if you think “wrestling” with two men or two women being married is hard, try “wrestling” with continued political marginalization. Because, frankly, that’s where you’re headed. White Christians can afford to be bigoted. They can afford to do and say all those Christiany things that make them sound totally nuts. They can afford to stand up in front of the rest of human civilization and thumb their noses at sanity and reason. There are a hell of a lot more of them and when they walk and talk in unison they get the attention of our elected officials. Sorry guys, but you just don’t have that kind of clout. And frankly, the last thing you need is one more reason for politicians to ignore you.

As an aside, I grew up on the South side of Chicago. I know a thing or two about black churches and people who go to them. One thing I have always admired about them is that they largely keep their views on social issues to themselves. As opposed to white churchgoers who just can’t seem to shut the fuck up. If anything, I see black Christians as a good model of how one keeps their religious views where they belong: in church and in the home. But, lately, I see that changing.

But hey, you know, go with your conscience by all means. Don’t vote for Obama this year. Or don’t vote at all. I’m sure when President Romney is dragging us back to 1950’s America it won’t bother you in the least. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you followed your moral compass, even if it helped lead the rest of us off a cliff.



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