Saturday, October 27, 2007

Obama can't catch a break

by shamanic

In what will be a growing problem for Democratic candidates who work to appeal to African American evangelicals and "the black church" generally, Barack Obama has stepped into some mighty nasty doo-doo by hosting a gospel concert in South Carolina with an anti-gay (gay?) gospel singer named Donnie McClurken.

For some background, Obama speaks to The Advocate here and Pam Spaulding provides a sweeping overview of the issue - including the last minute addition of a gay white pastor to lecture the largely black audience on tolerance - over at Greenwald's place here.

In the larger scheme of things, this is the classic problem of marrying diametrically opposed constituencies into a coalition. I agree with Obama that Democrats are not served by being "hermetically sealed from the faith community", but on the issue of homosexuality I'm not sure how you bridge that divide.

I appreciate Pam's comments about progressive whites shying away from commenting on her posts about race, because I'm a white person who's about to make a statement about black churches: By focusing on "the evils of homosexuality", black churches run the risk of continuing the marginalization of large numbers black people in America. Americans are growing ever more accepting of their gay and lesbian neighbors, but too many influential ministers in the black church seem focused on bashing gays.

Black churches, by and large, are not an easy fit in either party's constituency. The GOP remains fundamentally uncomfortable with race and class issues, and Democrats simply aren't going to start gay bashing with the zeal of their Republican counterparts. More facts: black churches were instrumental as agents of social justice in earlier eras. I hope that black pastors (and white pastors, while we're at it) rediscover the urge to make a united and just society and lay off the gay bashing. Yeah, it brings in the cash, but it hurts people, gay and straight, who should all have a seat at the American table.