Black congregations have historically, from a theological standpoint, been conservative. Yet many parishioners, at the behest and suggestions of their spiritual leaders have voted more liberally. This is nothing new.
In 1939, Margaret Sanger, the founder of what is now Planned Parenthood, advocated the need for recruiting ministers to aid in speaking to congregations with the aim of increasing birth control services in black communities in the South. She was quoted as saying, “The minister’s work is also important, and he should be trained, perhaps by the Federation, as to our ideals and the goal we hope to reach. The minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.” You read that correctly, a prime advocate of racist eugenics policy wanted to seek the aid of black pastors in her efforts.
While Sanger’s policy worked out exceedingly well for the racists of the eugenics movement, it decimated black communities and has led to the termination of more than twenty million Black babies since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973. Additionally, Sanger’s push for abortion is largely responsible for black Americans no longer being the largest minority group in the country, having now been surpassed by hispanics, whose abortion rates are less than half that of black women.
Black ministers have been led down the primrose path by promises from the usual race hustlers who promise increased influence and larger congregations, if they preach certain ideological political beliefs, generally liberal, to their parishioners. This is an obscene disservice to their weekly followers, who come to these houses of worship for hope and guidance, but instead find pulpit lectures on gloom and doom and hateful political rhetoric that has no place in the house of God. Ironically, after now-President Lyndon Johnson initiated his War on Poverty, one of the first communities to embrace its so-called “possibilities” and introduce it to their peers and congregants was the black ministerial community. At the behest of the ministers, families were torn asunder, and the black community, which for generations had been the model of self-sufficiency and provident living, became the testbed for the endless cycle of government subsidies. Poverty was not defeated by these policies, in fact, studies show it has been exacerbated, and only curtailed by conservative policies that had added more accountability and transparency. At what point will ministers realize that their words and sermons do matter?
In a recent conversation with a minister who officiated the funeral of a relative, I asked why black congregations have so easily been taken advantage of by the words of politicos who abandon the black community after election time. He expressed his dismay that they “visit the black churches and admit they are born again believers, but when you contact their offices, they are never available.” He further elaborated how the politicians know “what to say to excite the black community by discussing how they will bring jobs, prosperity, public safety and all that is needed and have come to the Saints of God to bring it home together”, but it can only be addressed if that “Christian candidate” is elected.
In 2017, then-President Donald Trump utilized the power of an executive order to limit the Johnson Amendment. The executive order limits enforcement of the Johnson Amendment or any other adverse action against any individual or religious organization for speaking about moral or political issues from a religious perspective.
Even with that in place, the black community is still one of the most politically misinformed, and a lot of that is still from ministers who are still stuck in an agenda of congregation building through smoke and mirrors. When will the theological conservatism mesh with the political conservatism that is better serving our nation? Only time will tell, but the sooner the better.