Politics make way in churches

Instead of focusing on building spiritual wealth, local black churches are steering their sermons toward promoting the building of political power.

After a low black voter turnout rate in the 2000 election, a few Leon County church leaders are taking it upon themselves to use Sunday morning services as a political party forum.

“The black church is the backbone of the black community. They look to the church for understanding and guidance to decisions in their lives. It just so happens that a choice they are faced with right now is voting,” said the Rev. Daniel Ray of New Hope Baptist Church.

With the presidential election days away, black leaders are working overtime to encourage black people to get out and vote.

However, promoting the right to vote is not the only message coming from the pulpit.

Churches are also influencing the black political vote and are telling black people whom to vote for in the election.

With platforms such as Medicare, Medicaid and minimum wage that largely affect the black community, ministers are urging their congregation to vote in ways the ministers see most beneficial to the black community.

Roger Lent, an usher at Grace Missionary Baptist Church, said there have been a lot of Sunday morning sermons sublimely telling the congregation to vote for presidential candidate John Kerry.

“In my opinion that day is for the gospel,” Lent said

According to “African-American Heritage” by Susan Altman, dating back to the time of slavery, black ministers served their members outside of just prayer. Ministers have been used as therapists, educators and even caretakers.

Claudia Sinclair, a member of Grace Missionary Baptist Church, has been a member since 1982, but said she attends different churches on occasion.

Sinclair has attended church several times during this voting season and said she has witnessed on first hand ministers influencing congregations to vote democratic.

“I can honestly say I’m voting for Kerry because Pastor Ray has explained all of Kerry’s views that interest and benefit me and he says that Democrats are for black people,” Sinclair said.

Some church attendees say that new generation members lack basic skills, or interest, in political participation; therefore, congregation members are pleased to see the interest ministers are taking to ensure voting.

Democrats are not the only party churches are endorsing. According to http://www.washingtonpost.com, some black churches are preaching in favor of the Republican Party.

Black ministers have denounced democratic efforts to legalize gay marriages and support pro-choice legislation.

“Pastor Travis preaches to us that Bush has the best moral values in mind for this country,” said Alisson Butler, a member of Riverside Baptist Church.

Black ministers go beyond the call of duty in, as well as outside, the pulpit leaving some to think the explanations of the 10 Commandments have seemingly fallen by the wayside, and political platforms have taken their place.

Contact Lauren Dixon at famuannews@hotmail.com.