This morning it was brought to my attention that a Chicago mega-church pastor is launching an anti-gay marriage campaign. Apparently, Chicago doesn’t have more pressing matters to attend to, say rampant violence, growing economic disparities, and troubles within the public schools, resulting in a teachers’ strike not even a year ago. Nope, gotta stop the gays from marrying each other. That’s the issue because evidently there no is greater sin in American politics right now than the thought of two men and two women double dating the “wrong” way.
So yes, as Black members of the LGBT community and their straight allies reach out to members of the Black Caucus in the Illinois House with the hopes of securing their support in voting on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, Rev. James Meeks of Salem Baptist Church is retaliating with threats.
The Chicago Phoenix reports that Meeks is leading a coalition of Black churches that have “recently threatened to take away their congregations’ support and even bar the lawmakers from attending their churches if they vote to approve gay and lesbian nuptials.”
What would Jesus do in a situation such as this?
I imagine “not banning people over a difference of opinion” to be the correct answer. What’s more, the group has begun airing radio commercials on Black-targeted stations urging opposition to the measure. The ads are also being used in automated telephone calls targeting Black households. There will even be a “street campaign,”asking Black residents of Cook County to call and urge their state reps to vote “no” on marriage equality.
You know where I stand on the issue of marriage equality. Even if I were a Biblical literalist – and thank God I’m not – ultimately marriage is mandated by the state and not anyone’s religious institution, which means if government sees fit to change the ruling, why on Earth would a pastor try to pretend “holy matrimony” is suddenly a thing worth protecting? Where was the great push against common law marriage and divorce?
And seriously, shouldn’t Black folks of all people know better than to use a book full of allegory, metaphor, and hyperbole to vilify others and treat them as second-class citizens undeserving of select rights considering that the same exact arguments were used against us at various points in history?
Oh, there I go again being logical and consistent. For shame or something.
In any event, if Meeks and company want to exercise their right to free speech, so be it, but I find where he places his priorities and resources to be questionable (at the very damn least).
Here’s what Meeks had to say about combating the high-murder rate in Chicago:
This might be one of the most boldest prayers that we have ever prayed. We didn’t have a month last year where under 14 people were killed. But I believe that God is going to do it. I believe that this is going to be the month – some things come only by fasting and praying.
So you pray and fast over your people being slaughtered, but you spend money to stop consenting adults from entering a union of their choosing?
We all have a right to our opinions and our politics, but isn’t it interesting that Meeks is more motivated to take a grand stand against love and not combat hate? Thankfully, this isn’t the case for all church leaders.
Amen to that.
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick
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