Friday, May 11, 2012

Evolution next:
African Americans, evangelicals and gay marriage

IT'S BEEN a popular truism of American social demographics, and a sad fact of our racial history: African Americans have, in large part because of cultural tradition and the impact of the teachings of Christianity, been historically antagonistic to gay rights in America.

That generalization isn’t too general to quantify. Sixty-four percent of African Americans opposed gay marriage in a Pew Forum poll in 2008, “a significantly higher level of opposition than among whites (51%)”.

And on the same night Barack Obama won the presidency that year, California voters voted to approve Proposition 8, the state measure that banned same-sex marriage. Initial exit polls found that 70 percent of black voters backed Prop. 8.

In January 2009, though, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a more granular analysis of voting data on Prop. 8 from five heavily black-populous counties suggested that African American support for Prop. 8 was closer to 58 percent — “still well above the 52 percent Prop. 8 received from all voters in the Nov. 4 election.”

“The study debunks the myth that African Americans overwhelmingly and disproportionately supported Proposition 8,” Andrea Shorter, director of And Marriage for All, said in a statement. “But we clearly have work to do with, within and for African American communities, particularly the black church.”

But if two snapshot assessments of the mood of African Americans toward President Obama’s Wednesday endorsement of marriage equality for same-sex couples are any indication, that “work” to be done is well underway, with African Americans in recent years having made an evolution of their own.

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FORMER NAACP Chairman Julian Bond was upbeat about the president’s statement on Thursday. “Thrilled and excited,” actually. “This was a position I’d always thought that he had,” Bond told Anderson Cooper on CNN. “I always felt that he felt this way. I was waiting and waiting for him to say so, and I’m just so happy that he finally did.”

Bond’s sense of African American reaction was that of a community coming to grips with the future. “The tide is shifting, people are thinking differently. Younger people are saying, ‘these are old-fashioned ideas …’” And Bond understood the impact of Obama as compass for the nation’s ideals. “When he says that, it sends a powerful signal that the most powerful figure in the land … has spoken out in favor of freedom, justice, rightness and correctness for everybody.”

Rev. Candy Holmes, an African American minister with Metropolitan County Church in Prince George’s County, Md., came at it from a more ecclesiastical perspective, but one that suggested her congregations were no less tolerant. “We are enthused,” she told Bill Press on Current TV’s “Full Court Press” on Thursday. “I recognize that there [is] still diverse thought in the community, but overall we are enthused that the president has come out and made this public stance … we’re encouraged by that.

“The right of marriage, and same-sex marriage, is for all Americans, and protection under the law is for all,” Holmes said. “While there are some that are still evolving, there are many in the religious community, in the black church, that have evolved and are there with the president.”

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These changes within the black church apparently mirror those within the wider evangelical church as a whole; the presumed monolith of evangelical opposition to gay marriage equality may not be a monolith at all.

“The next generation of Christians differs substantially from the previous generations,” said Jonathan Merritt, author of “A Faith of Our Own,” a book that explores evolving changes in American evangelical perspectives. “They’re not resonating with the religious right, not even the religious left,” Merritt told Current TV’s Eliot Spitzer on Thursday.

In his 1859 treatise On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin observed that evolutionary changes don’t happen in a vacuum; the interconnectedness of the ecosystem and the power of irresistible change dictate that evolution happens, fast or slow, to everything in that ecosystem. The celebrated naturalist would be surprised to find that process playing out in American society right now, and faster than he might have imagined.

1 comment:

  1. (Thanks Michael. Spied this item on the web.)


    (written by a friend in 2003)

    Even the God of the entire Bible is behind the gay rights movement----and I'll prove it.
    (Although this paper focuses on lost persons in the "Northeastern Bermuda Triangle" outlined roughly by New York City, Montreal, and Boston, I'm sharing it with everyone everywhere.)
    You who identify with GBLT (no, not Gay Bacon Lettuce & Tomato!) already know about your own history. So for the unlearned I'll include some info on it, much of which is on the internet.
    Gay activist John McKellar has stated: "The major media are all nonstop advertisements for the gay lifestyle, so how far are they prepared to go in denying free speech to Christians, Muslims, and Jews?....No major world religion has ever accepted homosexual behavior. And if [gay] activists had any sense of history, they'd realize their own lifestyle is a symptom of an overurbanized, relativized culture heading into decadence."
    Thomas Jefferson revealed that in Virginia, "dismemberment" of the offensive sex organ was the penalty for sodomy, and he himself authored a bill penalyzing sodomy by castration. The same internet article, "Homosexuals in the Military" by David Barton, also stated that sodomy , homosexuality etc. were regarded as felonies in early America and were even punishable by death in New York, Connecticut, South Carolina, and Vermont!
    You GBLTs have traveled far. You are now helping to fulfill two big signs that Jesus said (in Luke 17) will characterize life on earth just before His return to it: "days of Noah" (physical violence) and "days of Lot" (your GBLT ancestors).
    Even the New York Times has expressed amazement over the suddenness and pushiness of today's campaign for legalizing same-sex marriage, and Prof. David M. Halperin wrote that "lesbian and gay studies scholars" have led the way in fighting against policies that "criminalize gay sex or limit access to abortions."

    I said early on that the Bible's God is behind you GBLTs. Yes, He's behind you and even pushing you down the dead-end road you have insisted on taking. Several scary Bible passages show that God will actually "program" those whose motto seems to be "HELL-BOUND AND HAPPY!": "the Lord God...gave them up to desolation" (II Chron. 30:7); God "gave them up to uncleanness," "gave them up to vile affections," "gave them over to a reprobate mind" (Rom. 1:24,26,28); "God shall send them strong delusion" (II Thess. 2:11); and "he which is filthy, let him be filthy still" (Rev. 22:11).
    Now that you GBLTs have invented strange architecture (closets opening on to main streets instead of bedrooms!), have traded limp wrists for clenched fists, and are fighting for shame-sex marriage, I wonder if you will be happy when you've turned New York into New Yuck, Boston into Bah!-ston, and other places into Messychoose-its, Nude Hampshire, Vermin, and Cana-duh (where at least the maple leaves will be blushing!). And of course I should include Hell-A and San Fransissyco which, appropriately, are in Quake-ifornia!
    So what are you waiting for? Since you're bent on fulfilling the predicted end-time Noah/Lot days (your way of helping to make the Bible even more believable!), and since seemingly you'd rather discover the "wrathful Judge" side of Christ instead of His "merciful and loving and forgiving" side, can't you speed up your role and get it over with? You're holding up the true and everlasting peace that God wants to give to the whole world!

    (You're free to reproduce and distribute this non-copyrighted paper everywhere including the internet. You're also free to use a different title with it, if you wish.)



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