Republican? Democrat? Conservative? Liberal? In this installment of The Elder’s Corner, Elder Charles Blake II discusses the dichotomy of being a Black Christian in political – and often polarized – America.
By Elder Charles Blake II
Since the November election, I’ve been in a number of places with those both inside and outside the African American community who have had much to say about the results of the 2016 Presidential election. There are some who expect me, by virtue of the fact that I am African American, to be in a state of depression because of President Donald Trump’s victory in the election. If they were a supporter of Mr. Trump, then they quietly choose not to openly celebrate his victory in my presence, for fear that they may raise my ire and cause me to unleash a passionate barrage of anger. If they did not vote for him, then they expected me to join with them in their anger, despair, and uncertainty at the future of our country’s well-being.
After my general disclaimer that “Whoever sits in the White House, it is God that sits on the throne of Heaven,” I had to remind them that, even when the person that they voted for wins the election, there is no guarantee that the world that they wanted to see will come to pass. When Barack Obama ran for President both times, the African American community and communities of other races, faiths and cultures came out overwhelmingly to support him and the dream of hope and change that he represented. However, as time progressed, we African Americans saw President Obama move to support agendas that had nothing to do with the issues that we face as a people. We now realize that it takes more than an African American President to heal our communities, and to help us move out of some of the issues facing us as African Americans.
WHERE DO YOU STAND?
In 2008, then Senator Barack Obama was nominated as the Democratic candidate for the President of the United States at the Democratic
National Convention. Bishop Charles Blake Sr. addressed the convention (see video, right); he also participated in a number of interviews during that time. I distinctly remember Bishop expressing the dichotomy – the double identity – of our political existence as African Americans. I heard him describe how traditionally, because of our values and morals, we are conservative; but with our political perspectives we are more progressive. We were taught by the example of our parents and grandparents the Biblical, traditional structure and values of God and family; and how, with hard work and discipline, an individual could rise to a higher level in life.
On the other hand, in our political perspectives, we are progressive. We have seen how the Federal Government, as far back as Reconstruction, had a large hand in ensuring that we as African Americans attained the rights espoused in our Constitution. We remember when the U.S. Marshals, and at times the National Guard, had to escort young African Americans to high schools and universities in the South, just so they could learn and get an education.
As a strong believer in pro-life values and traditional definitions of marriage, Bishop Blake has applauded the conservative defense of these values. However, he has decried the fact that their love and concern for the unborn stops at birth, and that more effort on their part is put into the construction of prisons than into the institutions which would build productive citizens. We, like Bishop Blake, applaud and agree with the progressive assertion that equal rights and opportunities should be available to every citizen of our nation, and that the Federal Government should protect those rights. But we, as African Americans, cannot agree with either the wholesale annihilation of millions of unborn children through abortion; or the equating of sexual preference with that of racial designation and the human rights that accompany that designation. We also cannot agree with the destruction of the traditional definitions of family and marriage.
ON THE LORD’S SIDE
We, as African American Christians, realize that we must articulate an agenda that speaks to both of our identities within the conservative and progressive agenda. The Progressives say to the African American that if we believe in Civil Rights; in the work of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others who fought in that struggle, then we should vote Democrat. The Conservatives say that if we as African Americans believe in God and in Christian values, then we should vote Republican: yet, neither party speaks to the totality of issues and concerns of our community.
It is only when we, as a people, begin to articulate an agenda of our own, which speaks to both our moral and our constitutional values, that we can begin to change our communities, and, in turn, our nation. Until that time however, there will be those who seek to define and articulate our agenda for us, and we will continue to be torn between two worlds and at war with one another. If this continues to be the case Beloved, it will not matter who is in the White House.
Elder Charles Edward Blake II serves as Assistant Pastor and Director of Community Relations of West Angeles Church of God In Christ, under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Charles Edward Blake, Sr. He received his BS in Marketing from Oral Roberts University, and studied for his MD at the Interdenominational Theological Center. Elder Blake also serves as the General Manager of the Los Angeles Ecumenical Congress. He and his wife DeAndra are the proud parents of two sons.
VIDEO INSET: Presiding Bishop Charles E. Blake, Sr. discusses human value and a pro-life perspective at the Interfaith Gathering of the 2008 DNC. Video, courtesy of C-Span.
Hear Donnie McClurkin sing his anthem to the church, “Stand”, below: