November 23, 2004


Racially Diverse Faith Coalitions Oppose Gay Marriage, Tackle Other Issues: Invigorated by the election, African-American and Hispanic leaders are reaching out on a range of political fronts. (Adelle M. Banks, 11/22/2004, Religion News Service)

The Rev. Dwight McKissic of Arlington, Texas, traveled to Washington for a September summit that Traditional Values Coalition Chairman Louis Sheldon pulled together for African-American pastors to join the fight against same-sex marriage. But McKissic, a Southern Baptist, said the bipartisan "Not on My Watch" group he started with other African-American clergy will remain an "intentionally black" endeavor, seeking passage of both state and federal constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, but not joining white evangelicals on other causes.

"Many black pastors I know chose to make that effort independent of white evangelicals because they did not want to be seen as carrying water for the Republicans or white conservatives," he said.

Pastor Ken Hutcherson, the African-American organizer of Mayday for Marriage, a multicultural event that drew thousands to Washington's National Mall in mid-October, takes a different view. "Tell them that if that was the same attitude we had taken toward same-sex marriage, we would have a different president," the Seattle-area pastor said, adding that the 11-0 win on state amendments affirming traditional marriage would have gone in the opposite direction.

"They better get off their pride and start working together."

Hutcherson looks forward to next leading his multicultural congregation—and, he predicts, an eventual national movement of religious conservatives—in an effort to halt discriminatory adoption practices in which people pay more to adopt a white child than an African-American one.

"We have to come together on issues and we have to come together in color," he said.

Hispanic leaders, too, are taking different approaches to future alliances.

Yuri Mantilla, director of the Colorado-based Focus on the Family's Hispanic Voter Education Project, said the same diversity reflected in the campaign against gay marriage is needed to address issues such as embryonic stem cell research and judicial nominations.

"The future of these movements has to be diverse—Hispanic-American, African-American, Asian-American, all united," he said. "That's essential."

The Rev. Daniel de Leon, pastor of Templo Calvario in Santa Ana, Calif., one of the largest Hispanic evangelical churches in the country, said he and other Hispanic leaders are considering forming a separate bipartisan network to influence Capitol Hill with stances opposing abortion, supporting the traditional family, and selecting judges who will uphold such positions.

De Leon attended a May press conference in which a multicultural group of religious leaders announced a poll showing the majority of Americans supported a federal marriage amendment.

But he said there's a need now for Hispanics to start some political action on their own.

"I think the coalition will start small and narrow but I think it's almost, by its very nature … going to expand," he predicted.

Matt Daniels, president of the racially diverse Alliance for Marriage, based in Washington, said that religious conservatives who worked in concert this fall now have momentum to continue with plans to revive a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in 2005. A similar effort failed this year in both houses of Congress.

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, who recently announced a new Faith and Values Coalition, estimated that 10 percent of the people who worked with him on voter registration in the past year were African-American and a similar percentage were Hispanic. Such diverse outreach will continue as he aims to get 40 million religious conservatives to the polls in 2008.

"We're going out to everybody, every American who breathes and who shares our faith," he said.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 23, 2004 8:10 PM

I've never understood the "uncle tom" thing.

There was this aging "black-power" guy on Dennis Miller last week who refused to say that Condi Rice was good for blacks.

Such suspicion is incredible to me. Is there a psychological explanation? It's like some kind of victim addiction. And, from what I can see, it seems limited to those blacks who were born in the U.S. Immigrants appear to be much more independent.

Posted by: Randall Voth at November 24, 2004 7:27 AM

What we have here are a bunch of plantation overseers worried about losing their jobs. As Blacks become White and Latinos become White, those who have staked out "leadership" positions in separtist institutions are out in the cold.

It's the cultural analog to what happens when religious denominations merge: Christ's prayer for the unity of His church is beter answered, accompanied by a vocational blood-bath.

Posted by: Lou Gots at November 24, 2004 8:15 AM