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“Will President Obama’s Stance on Same Sex Marriage Dampen the Black Religious Vote?”

By Lawayne Childrey | Published 30 Oct 2012 11:15am | comments

As this year’s presidential race draws to a close members of the black church are weighing in on President Barack Obama's support of same sex marriage. It's an issue that has reportedly divided many African American churches across the country.  MPB's Lawayne Childrey  reports how it’s being received in Mississippi's Black religious community. 

 

During a rousing Sunday morning  worship service,  Pastor Jerry Young of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson openly confessed his dismay for President Barack Obama's decision to support same sex marriage. 

"When he said that it bothered me tremendously. I mean , I,  I almost had a, I mean,  look, I almost starting having just fits. I mean I got so upset that I had to go back to the room. I had to go back to the room and get on my knees before I could preach. I was so mad I didn't know what to do. I said how in the world, this man got to know better than that."

Dr. Young is a charismatic minister who grew up in the Mississippi Delta during the heart of the civil rights era. He told his 3,000 member congregation that he struggled to understand why  Obama had taken -  what many in the black church community,  call an anti-religious stance on the matter. However, after days of  prayer and consecration Young says he received a better understanding of the president’s position.

 

 

"It is the constitution that governs this country. It is not the bible. And those of us who  are Christians as much as we would like to we cannot shove the bible down other folks throat."

Nationally some African American ministers were outraged over the presidents endorsement of same sex marriage. Many are reportedly discouraging their members from even voting in this year’s election. But Derrick Johnson, State President of the Mississippi NAACP says he's actually seeing the opposite effect here in Mississippi.

"They're all eager to get their congregants engaged in this year’s election. People are concerned with jobs, people are concerned with healthcare, people are concerned with quality education for our children."

 

 

Nearly 95% of African Americans living in Mississippi who voted in the 2008 Presidential election cast their ballot for President Obama.    Dr. Demondes Haynes was one of them.  Haynes an Usher at Word and Worship Church in Jackson and says  this year  he is even more enthused.  

"Our country unfortunately has a history of discriminating against people whether they be gay lesbian, black Latinos so it's time for us to really rectify those policies. But on the front of people who have same sex marriage or same sex relationships they just wanna live their lives and be free in this great country."

As complex as the issue of same sex marriage may be for certain members of the black church community  Natalie Jones, a Jackson Business Owner and member of New Hope Baptist Church leans towards accepting the idea with one caveat.

 

 

"And I am definitely a religious person so I think they should have the rights as married people but I don't think it should be considered a marriage. Maybe it should be called something else, a civil union or something like that but I do think that they should have benefits as married people."

Still the question remains, even with his support of same sex marriage, will President Obama garner the same overwhelming support from the African American community he did four years ago. Many political analyst believe the answer is yes. And while a small percentage may not vote for the President because of his position on gay marriage, Pastor Jerry Young of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson said during a recent sermon that his congregation should not mix religion and politics.

"We make a distinction between the church and culture, between the secular and the sacred and between the constitution and the bible. America is governed by the constitution the church must be governed by the bible. And that's where I stand as a child of God. Amen and to God be the glory!"

Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.  

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