- (Photo: AP Images / Mary Ann Chastain)
WASHINGTON – African Americans are statistically likely to be religious, but their worldview is shaped by their race more than their faith, contends a born-again black author in her new book.
Long-standing social and political patterns in the African American community have molded black Christians to behave like secular black society, said former journalist Pamela G. Wilson in her book entitled, Finding Soul Brothers: Dismantling Black Christian Racialism.
Wilson defines the race-focused mindset, which is now expressed through political and social loyalties, as “racialism.”
On issues such as abortion and homosexuality, biblical principles are often sacrificed to support race agendas like social equality and economic justice, she contends.
“Most of the time, people (black Christians) are supporting a candidate for the sake of how they feel they will advance the race,” Wilson told The Christian Post.
“They want to put their support behind the candidates that will help the causes they’ve been fighting for over these last few decades – which there is nothing wrong with – but there is also a Christian standard and I don’t think you should support anything that makes you turn away from the Bible if you truly believe what the Bible says.”
Black Christians tend to be “stuck” in the civil rights mindset and not look beyond those issues even if they say they are a believer.
“People just jump on the black bandwagon at the expense of their faith,” Wilson said.
“There are examples after examples where Christians have chosen black unity over their Christian faith and I call that being unequally yoked.”
Wilson challenges fellow African-American Christians to stop focusing on their race and instead assume a faith-based agenda, which would more closely align with their spiritual beliefs. A faith-based agenda includes family values, morality, and spiritual authority – issues traditionally associated with conservative white Christians.
“It is very painful to say ‘if I let this go, what about my civil rights as a black person?’ But then you got to get to the point as a Christian to say ‘I can do all things through Christ and depend on God to be my deliverer and overcome injustice,’” advised the black born-again author.
Wilson’s book comes at a time when Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois is vying to be the first black U.S. president. In December, his campaign unveiled a new committee of top African American religious leaders, which Wilson calls liberals and criticized for “turn[ing] their back” on biblical issues of abortion in exchange for a civil rights agenda.
“I believe as Christians, and definitely as leaders in the Christian community, they should be pointing people towards what the Bible says on these issues and then endorsing people who believe and want to support what the Bible says about that and other issues.”
She considers it problematic that Obama – who is ranked as the Democratic candidate that speaks the most about religion by Beliefnet.com – says he is a Bible-believing Christian but is pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage.”
“Black Christians are more likely to focus on racial soul brothers than spiritual ones. This is a major hindrance to total unity within the Christian church,” Wilson said. “It has also forced black Christians to maintain loyalties based on racial tradition rather than the Bible.”
Wilson is among the growing number of black evangelicals joining the traditionally white social conservative movement. This group of black conservatives is led by their faith-agenda, often abortion and same-sex “marriage,” rather than by any political party.
Bishop Harry R. Jackson, Jr., who heads the socially conservative black pastors group called High Impact Leadership Coalition, has worked closely with conservative white leaders like Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins to fight abortion and gay rights legislation.
A Washington Post-Kaiser Foundation-Harvard University poll this summer found that more than half of blacks said they oppose both same-sex “marriage” and legal recognition of same-sex civil unions. Yet only five percent of blacks in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll responded that abortion, moral or family values issues were their top concerns for the upcoming presidential election.
Instead, the largely religious African American population said its top concerns are social issues such as the war in Iraq, health care and the economy and jobs.
The former “racialist” called on black Christians to adopt a “true Biblical view” and remove “racialist badges of victimization, abandoning the race card, and discarding secular views and practices.”
Wilson suggests multi-racial worship and for blacks to do service projects with other races to overcome racialism.