NEW YORK — The Rev. Elaine Flake, who leads along with husband, the Rev. Floyd Flake, the 23,000-member Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York, has expressed shock over abortion statistics recently revealed about black women in New York City.
"I saw that article about a month ago, someone forwarded it to me via email and I was devastated," Flake told The Christian Post. "I thought those statistics were just outrageous, and wondered if they were true. But if they are, it's something that I think we have to deal with as a church. As the African American community we have to educate our people a little bit better. I think we just have to be determined that we're going to deal with some of these issues."
As CP has reported, citing the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: "Black women in New York City aborted more than half of their pregnancies in 2012, topping the number of abortions recorded by women of every other racial or ethnic group in the city." The report revealed that more than any other ethnic group in NYC, black women were the leading abortion patients and also had the highest pregnancy and miscarriage rates.
The minister said she felt "motivated" after reading about the department of health report and said she also found it "alarming" that more than 70 percent of black babies were being born out of wedlock.
Mentioning Ralph Richard Banks' 2011 book, Is Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone, the Rev. Flake wondered if the media were partly to blame for some of these trends being "perpetuated in our culture."
"I just do feel that we have to think about how we're living and how we're raising our children, and how we're educating our children and what we're exposing our children to. How we are teaching values, how we are perhaps not teaching values and we just have to be very very clear that we have a whole generation coming behind us and we have to do everything that we can to give them a foundation to be the best that they can be," she added.
CP suggested that with such a large congregation in Queens, it was likely some women belonging to The Greater Allen A.M.E Cathedral have had to personally deal with the issue of abortion. Pastor Flake agreed that it was likely, saying, "I would imagine, I'm not sure. No one has ever come to me, but I would think with that kind of percentage that that could be the case."
She added, "[To] be clear, I could never counsel anyone to have an abortion. I could never do that. And I think that when people are making choices, I think they would know my position on that. Again, I think it goes back to the problem of our children especially becoming sexually active so young. … It just seems to be the way the culture's going. I think that because it is going that way we are seeing these kinds of statistics."
The Rev. Flake, who has been leading The Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York for over 30 years with her husband, was in attendance Thursday at the Women's Power Breakfast, billed as "a celebration of dynamic women who work tirelessly to pave the way for other women and shape our nation." The event was part of a larger conference organized this week by the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network at the Sheraton hotel in Times Square.
The Flakes were also scheduled to appear at the convention on Friday to participate in a "Black Church Panel," along with other local ministers, such as the Rev. A.R. Bernard of the Christian Cultural Center and the Rev. Michael Walrond of First Corinthian Baptist Church. The panel discussion was to be focused on civil rights, same-sex marriage and women's rights.
The Flakes' African Methodist Episcopal church, located in the borough of Queens, reports an annual budget of over $34 million and ownership of several commercial and real estate properties. Its corporations, church administrative offices, school, and ministries comprise one of the borough's largest private sector employers, according to The Greater Allen A.M.E.'s website.