March 6, 2005


GOP courting the black vote on moral issues, with success (Dick Polman, 3/06/05, Philadelphia Inquirer)

To understand why President Bush and the Republicans are gaining political strength in the black community, consider these remarks by Bishop Harry Jackson Jr., senior pastor at a 2,500-member church in College Park, Md.:

"I'm a registered Democrat, and I didn't vote for Bush in 2000, but now I'm a vehement supporter. Look at the moral issues. The black family is under siege in this culture, and something like same-sex marriage will take us right down the slippery slope. When I heard Bush say he supported a constitutional amendment to ban it, well, that made sense to me. Sacred rights are different from civil rights.

"The Democrats are being held hostage by their gay-rights agenda. They ignored black issues until the last weeks of the campaign. For me, that put salt in the wounds. I thought: 'Now they want to come to the churches and ask for votes? How dare they?' So I'm working with the Republicans now. And if the President follows through on reaching out to us, then more of the masses in the churches will be open to the Republicans in national elections."

Nervous Democrats fear Jackson may be right. African Americans have been loyal to the party since the civil-rights era, but Bush and the Republicans, in their drive to build a sustaining majority, are now poised to grab a significant slice of that electorate. If they can draw 20 percent of the black vote in pivotal states with large urban populations - an achievable goal - the Democrats would face serious hurdles in future presidential races. [...]

Today, Bush and the GOP are networking on all fronts - black churches, black colleges, black business groups - and promoting not only their conservative social agenda (which attracts many black churchgoers), but also their faith-based community program (which offers federal money to pastors) and their bid to partially privatize Social Security (which posits the argument that blacks, on average, don't live long enough to fully reap the benefits of traditional Social Security).

Bush's black allies are networking, too. Bishop Jackson - who has crafted a "Black Contract with America on Moral Values," and who, along with 200 other pastors, plans to present it in New York City next month - is still a Democrat. But he's working these days with Louis Sheldon, the veteran religious conservative leader who partnered with the Bush campaign last year to help craft the strategy for black Christian outreach.

Jackson and many others have received no faith-based money - because not much has been spread around. But Bush has benefited politically anyway; as former White House aide David Kuo wrote recently in an article posted online: "There wasn't enough money around to buy anyone [in 2004]... . But the [program] sent a resounding political message to all faith-based constituencies: President Bush cares about you."

Democrats, stuck in reactive mode, are voicing dismay about these GOP-black flirtations. [...]

The Rev. Herb Lusk, pastor at Greater Exodus Baptist Church in North Philadelphia, said: "You have to admire the man. My mother died last week, and the President personally called the Tennessee church where the funeral was being held. Then he faxed a letter to the church and signed it George. "

And Lusk wants more blacks to consider the GOP: "I just think it's bad strategy for 95 percent of our people to be riding in one boat as it goes downstream."

They've achieved so much already, it's easy to forget these are just the early stages of the Bush/Rove realignment.

Black Churches Struggle Over Their Role in Politics (NEELA BANERJEE, 3/06/05, NY Times)

A tug of war is under way inside black churches over who speaks for African-Americans and what role to play in politics, spurred by conservative black clergy members who are looking to align themselves more closely with President Bush.

The struggle, mainly among black Protestants, is taking place in pulpits, church conventions, on op-ed pages and on the airwaves, and the president himself began his second term with a meeting in the White House with black clergy members and civic leaders who supported his re-election.

Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr., the pastor of the Hope Christian Church in College Park, Md., is part of a new breed of leaders who have warmed to the Republican stand on social values. He paraphrases Newt Gingrich as he stumps the country to promote a "Black Contract With America on Moral Values," whose top priorities include opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion.

"Historically when societies have gone off kilter, there has been rampant same-sex marriage," Mr. Jackson said in an interview. "What tends to happen is that people tend to devalue the institution of marriage as a whole. People start rearing kids without two parents, and the black community already has this incredibly alarming and, if I may say, this shameful number of babies being born without fathers."

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 6, 2005 1:48 PM

The problem is, most white Republican elites are urban sophisticates themselves, and not particularly enthused about resisting gay marriage and other social Liberalism. The people have always been with Conservatives on social issues, but much of the GOP has not.

Posted by: Paul Cella at March 6, 2005 1:52 PM

Both OJ's point and Paul's make clear why the President simply cannot be a disinterested bystander in the '08 primaries, but must, whether openly or behind-the-scenes, deliver the nomination to a qualified, electable candidate who will continue his program.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 6, 2005 2:04 PM

Preferably black.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 6, 2005 2:07 PM

And a woman.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 6, 2005 2:08 PM

Perhaps an intellectual.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 6, 2005 2:09 PM

And a classically trained concert level pianists.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 6, 2005 2:11 PM

whose running mate is the son and brother of presidents?

Posted by: oj at March 6, 2005 2:17 PM


Could you mean Big Mama Thornton I think she's passed away.

Posted by: h-man at March 6, 2005 2:23 PM

I'd rather pass on Neil Bush, until he can get his ex-wife to quiet down.

Posted by: h-man at March 6, 2005 2:27 PM

A former Provost of Stanford perhaps?

The next step in this game is for the Democrats to declare that political prostelyzing in churches is illegal, immoral, unfair, etc.

Posted by: AML at March 6, 2005 4:16 PM

--whose running mate is the son and brother of presidents?--


Posted by: Sandy P at March 6, 2005 4:45 PM

And the Democrats stand around looking up at the chunks of concrete spalling off the face of the dam, making plans for the future....

Posted by: ray at March 6, 2005 9:18 PM

Any Black church that even allows a Republican in its doors will be hit with a challenge to its tax-exempt status so fast by the MSM and the Democrats, it will make your head swim.

Posted by: Bart at March 7, 2005 7:01 AM

Bart, that's why they are staying Democrat but voting Republican. Don't Jews do the same thing?

Posted by: Randall Voth at March 7, 2005 8:53 AM