(Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing)
Four pastors lobbying for change in the Harlem community of Manhattan, N.Y., have gone on the warpath with civil rights leader and religious minister the Rev. Al Sharpton and have invited more than 100 churches to join them in dethroning him from his political seat for his failure to lead on local issues.
"While (Sharpton) is jet-setting around the country, people are going to our churches saying they don't have money to eat," Pastor Johnnie Green, 51, of Mount Neboh Baptist Church on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard told the New York Daily News. "People need somebody to fight for them."
As a result of the situation, Greene and several other pastors in the community have banded together to create a coalition of black ministers called Speak Out Say It Loud, which seeks to build a united African American power base with citywide influence.
The coalition, which includes Carl Washington of New Mount Zion Baptist Church on W. 140th Street, Kris Erskine of Bethany Baptist Church on W. 153rd Street and Patrick Young of First Baptist Church of East Elmhurst, Queens, will be pushing their gospel of rebellion at a rally slated for Oct. 24, according to a Facebook event page.
"We are the church and our voice shall be heard to the benefit of our community. Join more than 100 pastors and congregations assembling at the Mount Neboh Baptist Church to Speak Out about the deplorable conditions of our community and the injustice against our people. The church is still the church and with God we have miraculous power," read the announcement on the page.
The ministers, who expect about 1,500 people to show up for the event, said Sharpton is nothing more than a personality who has been spending more time promoting his new book, The Rejected Stone and his show on MSNBC.
"Sharpton isn't a community organizer. He's a personality," Raymond Blanchette, head bishop of the United Churches for Kingdom Building told the New York Daily News.
But the seasoned political minister charged that there was no need for a fight: "We need to attack the issues, not each other," Sharpton told the News. "If you want to be the big guy, be the big guy, be that. Don't act like I'm not doing anything local. I am."
"I run a civil rights organization," Sharpton added. "They're not going to do what I do. ... I don't run a church organization."