We have been accustomed to hold our religious institutions and faith leaders so dear. Not because of who they are but because we believe they represent a higher power that believes in justice and equity. A higher power that believes that no one should be treated better than the other.
In fact some liberation theologians say that Jesus Christ was not only a revolutionary but a social justice advocate.
Because Christianity is universal no one person can claim a monopoly over this religion which is part of the basis of my recent book "Obama and Christian Loyalty," exploring the faith posture of President Obama, politics of the religious right and his policies as they affect Christians across the board.
But this week we saw the Rev Billy Graham took a position that suggests something deeper about some of the men and women in the cloth.
Graham took out every reference to Mormonism as a cult on his website after meeting with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney who is a Mormon. The evangelist follows that with political ads indirectly supporting Romney and citing issues that he agrees with Romney on.
Meanwhile Graham's son, Franklin Graham led the charge last year to question President Obama's faith suggesting that he was born a Muslim. The nonsense of having ownership over Jesus from Franklin Graham was only challenged by few ministers, notably Bishop T.D. Jakes.
No other president has had their faith questioned like Obama and for Franklin Graham, a man who calls himself a leader in the Christian faith to have challenged Obama's faith on Eastern Sunday morning showed his dislike for the president.
For his father Billy Graham to now give the Mormon religion a pass after years of declaring them a cult only because the Mormon candidate can defeat the African American president shows the true colors of the Grahams.
Are the Grahams practicing racism or Christianity?
Because their dislike for the first Black president is no public secret.
What is the theological rational behind questioning the Christian faith of a Black president, and the same time giving a break to a religion like Mormonism that you once declared a cult?
If President Obama was White would the Grahams question his faith?
Would the Grahams have endorsed a White Mormon presidential candidate over a White Christian candidate?
The monopoly over Christianity could not be more glaring in the Graham saga with Obama. Christianity should not be used as a tool of dominance, hate and racism. Instead we expect men and women who talk about the Jesus factor to be right with themselves first before they step out to correct others.
What makes the Grahams think they have the final definition over Christianity?
This level of religious hypocrisy is not only absurd but bad.
I hope other religious leaders who do not admit to how the Grahams have defined Christianity recently will speak out and not be afraid.
Bankole Thompson is the Senior Editor of the Michigan Chronicle. He is a Senior Author-in-Residence at Global Mark Makers Publishing House in Iowa where he is writing a groundbreaking six-part book series on the Obama presidency. His book "Obama and Black Loyalty" published in 2010 follows his recent book "Obama and Christian Loyalty" with a foreword by Bob Weiner former White House spokesman. His forthcoming books in 2012 are "Obama and Jewish Loyalty" and "Obama and Business Loyalty." He is the first editor of a major African American newspaper to have a series of sit-down interviews with Barack Obama. Thompson is also a Senior Political News Analyst at WDET-101.9FM Detroit (NPR Affiliate) and a member of the weekly "Obama Watch" Sunday evening round table on WLIB-1190AM New York and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut.
A recent Associated Press survey showed that since America elected its first black president Barack Obama, people’s racial attitudes have not changed in the last four years. In fact it got worse under Obama. That is there is increasing prejudice against blacks and the survey says more Americans now express prejudice towards blacks whether they recognized it or not.
In practical terms those racial attitudes now account for why Obama’s challenger Gov Mitt Romney is pulling ahead among white men and as Republican strategist Mike Murphy said on “Meet the Press” on NBC last week of Romney can pull ahead among white voters in Ohio he’ll do well.
So cast aside the content of the president’s character, the content of his policy and score himn on the content of his skin color. That is the subtle message some of Obama’s critics are pushing and obviously gaining ground in battleground states.
The most prominent reason that could cost Obama his reelection is if majority white voters switch to Romney and few people of color come out to vote. The needs to get at least 38 percent of the white vote.
In fact Romney’s top surrogate John Sununu confirmed this line of racial thinking when he suggests this week that the reason Republican General Colin Powell endorsed Obama for the second time is because of his race.
“Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him,” Sununu told CNN. Sununu was a former governor of New Hampshire. I wonder what his racial policies were toward equity and addressing discrimination often found in government?
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh made a similar suggestion when General Powell endorsed Obama in 2008.
If endorsements are based on race by prominent African Americans what happened to all the other white presidents that blacks have been voting for?
To remotely suggest that an intelligent and highly decorated general like Powell will support Obama now only because of his race is insulting to the intelligence of not only Powell, but also blacks who have long voted for Democrats and Republicans. Powell gave explicit reasons for not supporting Romney citing his clear lack of foresight on foreign policy, unexplained economic policies etc.
But this is the game some of Obama’s critics want to play because it appeals in the south and in the heartland. This kind of game does affect votes. What the Republican establishment have not done is to rebuke the racial smears that comes from those who represent and speak for the party. Silence is consent.
When Donald Trump goes on his racial tirade questioning Obama’s background and education no one from the GOP stopped Trump. That the first black president with superb academic credentials becoming the first black president of the Harvard Law Review still comes under attack by a man like Trump – who has a lot of money- but can’t match Obama’s education background says something deeper about race in America today.
But despite the racial attitudes expressed in the AP survey it doesn’t change the fact that a lot of people in America today are not looking at their clock through race. They believe that America can be better than that. Romney nor his surrogates should not exploit racial attitudes. Instead Romney should stand on his record. And the same for Obama and let the voters decide. But don’t play on the fears of voters about a black president having a second term after 43 white men have been elected president.
The true test of America’s character is whether race can be cast aside in this crucial presidential election and voters decide exclusively on policy and the issues that resonate with them not how a person looks.
Bankole Thompson author of “Obama and Christian Loyalty,” is a distinguished journalist and presidential author. Since 2008 he has been a member of the weekly “Obama Watch” Sunday evening program on New York’s WLIB-1190AM. You can tune in every Sunday to hear his take on the Obama administration from 9-10:30pm and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut. No part of this blog must be republished without the appropriate designation or expressed permisison of the author. Http://www.bankolethompson.com
If George W. Bush was known for anything in his outreach to the African American community was that he knew how to exploit wedge issues at the expense of poor Black voters who got nothing in return.
Bush and his team were notable for galvanizing some Black ministers across the country and use them at their own expense in their own community.
To ensure that these Black preachers are advising their congregation members to strictly abide by the Republican moral code: its opposition to gay marriage and abortion. Nothing else.
Since this opposition fits within the Christian perspective the Black preachers who aligned themselves with Bush were the new self-appointed negotiators for the Black vote. Bush exploited gay marriage and abortion at their expense while offering no real economic policy to uplift the lives of most poor Black voters.
And so the moral challengers are back in Detroit in the midst of an intense presidential election. So far there are two billboards displayed in prominent parts of the city. One billboard sits above Woodward Ave and Warren in the Wayne State University corridor, and the other on East Jefferson both urging Black voters to remember that President Obama supports gay marriage and abortion. They are urging Black Christian voters to vote their faith.
In essence they are urging Black voters to support Republican Gov Mitt Romney for president. Since these moral challengers always act like they have ownership over Jesus Christ, its hard to imagine what else they are telling Black voters in some churches across Detroit.
Don't get me wrong. You have every right to be concerned about moral issues.
However, keep an open mind because equally true is the fact that you should also be concerned about which president will help put food on the table for your families.
You should be concerned about which president will grant educational opportunities to your children.
So while you are pondering or somewhat conflicted about the president's support for gay marriage and abortion- underscoring how the right to choose is important- because we don't live in a theocracy, think about which economic policies will help uplift your living conditions.
If you think that voting strictly on moral ground is a winning ballot, you will be seriously mistaken.
The interest of Black voters go beyond gay marriage and abortion.
Aren't Black voters concerned about the state of the economy, foreclosure crisis, health insurance, escalating gas prices, small business development, protecting civil and voting rights, educational opportunities? These are all issues that have bigger impact on the life of African Americans.
It's bigger than gay marriage and abortion. Look at the big picture. Don't fall for the trick.
Vote your conscience on the life and death issues. Vote on what matters to your socioeconomic and political advancement.
Bankole Thompson is a Senior Author-in-Residence at Global Mark Makers Publishing House in Iowa where he is writing a groundbreaking six-part book series on the Obama presidency. His book "Obama and Black Loyalty" published in 2010 follows his recent book "Obama and Christian Loyalty" with a foreword by Bob Weiner former White House spokesman. His forthcoming books in 2012 are "Obama and Jewish Loyalty" and "Obama and Business Loyalty." He is the first editor of a major African American newspaper to have a series of sit-down interviews with Barack Obama. Thompson is also a Senior Political News Analyst at WDET-101.9FM Detroit (NPR Affiliate) and a member of the weekly "Obama Watch" Sunday evening round table on WLIB-1190AM New York and simulcast in New Jersey and Connecticut.
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