A National Association of Evangelicals board member is calling on African-Americans to vote for their conservative convictions in the 2012 election, describing President Barack Obama as a theologically liberal candidate.
Bishop Harry R. Jackson. Jr., senior pastor of Hope Christian Church outside of Washington, D.C., asked blacks to re-evaluate their tendency to “flock the polls” in support of Democratic leaders in an opinion piece published Friday in The Wall Street Journal.
Blacks, he noted, espouse traditional, conservative beliefs on social issues rooted in their faith. Yet, they often vote for Democratic leaders with liberal leanings.
“Most blacks have looked the other way regarding their convictions about life and family when they have cast their votes,” he wrote.
During the 2008 presidential election, 96 percent of black voters supported Obama to be the nation’s first African-American president. Additionally, Democrats noted the president enjoyed record electorate gains among the Christian community in 2008.
The Obama re-election campaign is gearing up to take the African-American and Christian vote by storm again in 2012.
Last month, the Democratic National Committee appointed African-American pastor, the Rev. Derrick Harkins of Washington, D.C., to serve as its director of faith outreach. Harkins, also a NAE board member along with Jackson, said in a past interview with The Christian Post that he plans to rally blacks and Christians around social initiatives such as health care reforms, programs for working-class American and a jobs plan for teachers and firefighters.
However, Jackson noted that African Americans are deeply religious (a 2002 Gallup poll revealed that 84 percent of blacks agree that religion is very important in their lives) and Obama’s faith convictions do not reflect their own sincerely-held beliefs and faith traditions.
In his WSJ letter, Jackson analyzed the president’s faith by his church.
“The Chicago church where President Obama belonged for 20 years, Trinity United Church of Christ, is theologically liberal, eschewing scriptural inerrancy and talking apostolic creeds as ‘testimonies’ of faith rather than literally, unchangeably true,” he described.
Gallup’s 2000 survey of black congregations shows that the typical black faith experience is a traditional and conservative one.
The majority of African-American pastors (66 percent) said they always teach advice for daily living from their Bible sermons. A vast majority of black pastors (74 percent) also said they always teach biblical sermons focused on spiritual growth.
Few black pastors reported a continual biblical focus on racial situation in society (17 percent) or black liberation theology (12 percent) in their sermons.
Jackson noted, “Obama’s former pastor, [the] Rev. Jeremiah Wright … is known for teaching black liberation theology.”
Jackson said the black church is better reflected in African-American Republican candidate Herman Cain than Obama.
“Cain’s church [Antioch Baptist Church North in Atlanta, Georgia] subscribes to traditional Christian theology,” he stated.
Additionally, Jackson asserted, “Cain, like most black Americans, believes life begins at conception and that marriage is a sacred covenant between one man and one woman.”
Several black leaders, including Martin Luther King’s niece Alveda King, have affirmed the abortion is morally wrong. Additionally, a 2010 Public Religion Research Institute report found that more than half of African-American Protestants polled do not believe that marriage should be redefined to legal recognize same-sex unions.
Obama himself has embraced abortion and gay marriage in his policies in spite of his faith professions as a “Christian by choice.”
Cain has risen in the polls and is contending with former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in early primary states such as Iowa. However he has gained notoriety in the past two weeks as anonymous rumors of sexual harassment have circulated in the media.
Jackson did not formally endorse any candidate in the article, and chose not to endorse anyone during the interview with The Christian Post.
However, he told CP that he likes Cain because his presence makes it clear that there are opportunities for African-American representation in both the Democratic and Republican arenas of government and the free market, respectively.
“It is will say to African Americans … that this is the day in which American-American youth and their parents have to stop making excuses,” he told CP.
In his WSJ op-ed, Jackson said that for African-Americans, “The option of Mr. Cain on the ballot might cause them to think twice” when picking the next president.