Here's the text of a story about the quandary I mention. It's followed by the
mesage I sent to the reporter, urging follow-up story about Alan Keyes. Dr.
Keyes is running as an independent candidate for President in the upcoming
Ref: Julia Duin, "Pro-life black pastors wary of Obama | Views clash on
abortion", The Washington Times, July 4, 2008, pp. A1, A17 --
Conservative black pastors nationwide are caught between irreconcilable
opposites - congregations that overwhelmingly favor Sen. Barack Obama versus
their personal doubts about the Illinois Democrat's politics, particularly on
"It's a theological contradiction, from the Christian perspective, to be
excited about Obama," said the Rev. Levon Yuille, pastor of the 100-member
Bible Church in Ypsilanti, Mich. "Very few black pastors have problems
supporting Obama because they are fixated on this race thing."
"The congregations are pro-Obama. My congregation is saying Obama is the
lesser of two evils," said Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian
Church in Beltsville, a 3,000-member majority black congregation.
"When I say that on third-term abortions, Obama has no conscience, they say
[Sen. John] McCain and [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham Clinton] weren't great examples
of morality either."
The Rev. John W. Stephenson, pastor of Heirs Covenant Church, a 300-member
church in West Chester, Ohio, said he has to "educate" his members regularly.
"People say, 'This is an opportunity that will never come again for our
people,' " he said. "I say, 'Yes, we are African-Americans, but we are also
Several pastors interviewed said they have had to work overtime to tutor
their flocks about Mr. Obama's views, especially on abortion, which has
disproportionately affected blacks. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a
reproductive health research group, black abortion rates are three times that
of whites and twice that of Hispanics.
As an Illinois state senator, Mr. Obama voted against the Illinois Born Alive
Infants Protection Act, a bill that protected babies who survive abortions.
Last year, the senator condemned the Supreme Court's ban on partial-birth
"Obama I am afraid of," said the Rev. Kim Daniels, pastor of the 400-member
Spoken Word Ministries in inner-city Jacksonville, Fla. "I have a problem of
people voting for him because he is black. Some of our African-American
preachers are so excited to see someone who looks like them even though they
are not getting someone who believes like them.
"But my life as a black person does not mean more than my life as a believer.
I am voting for that baby that never gets to vote," she said.
Other voices are being raised. Ben Kinchlow, a former co-host for the
Christian Broadcasting Network and author of the new book "Black Yellowdogs,"
said many black churchgoers unthinkingly support the Democratic Party.
"Many black Christians voting for Obama are doing so for emotional reasons
and not because they've studied the issues," he said. "They think Barack
Obama is the shining city on the hill; that now is the chance to move into
the 21st century without what regarding what the real issues are."
Bishop Gilbert Coleman, pastor of the 1,000-member Freedom Christian
Fellowship in Philadelphia, said black believers are not knowledgeable about
Mr. Obama's beliefs.
"People blindly go to the polls and blindly pull the lever for 'Democrat,'"
he said. "We are not that divided as a congregation right now, but there are
others in Philadelphia that are split over this."
What shook him most, he said, was a recent Obama endorsement by the Rev.
Kirbyjon Caldwell, a confidante to President Bush and pastor of Windsor
Village United Methodist Church in Houston.
"Kirbyjon is very big on economic development," Bishop Coleman said. "But
there are a lot of things Obama is saying that are very uncomfortable to
"Some of the basic tenets of the Christian faith he does not hold to. The
homosexual agenda, abortion and things he's said about the economy are
unsettling. He does not take a true position as it relates to his own
All the pastors interviewed said they are hammering home to their
congregations the consequences of their votes.
"We are educating people about things Sen. Obama has stood for in the past
and will stand for if he becomes president," Mr. Stephenson said. "As a
spiritual leader, I have a responsibility to help navigate members through
The rub is that many pastors aren't that keen on Mr. McCain, said Bishop
Jackson, whose new book, "The Truth in Black & White: A New Look at the
Shifting Landscape of Race, Religion and Politics in America Today," deals
with some of these issues.
"McCain's stance on stem cell research and his lack of spiritual input makes
it a lot tougher saying he is the right guy," he said. "We can't say, 'Don't
vote for Obama' when McCain is this weak."
"I will find it difficult to vote for either of the candidates," Mr. Yuille
said. "It is very distressing to me the black pulpit is so compromised on
politics. It puts us at odds with God."
--- END OF FRONT PAGE STORY IN TODAY's THE WASHINGTON TIMES ---
The Times' web version of this story included a link to send message to the
reporter. Here's a copy of the message I just sent to her:
Dear Julia -
Interesting story today. Did you know that folks across the country are
trying to get Alan Keyes on the ballot in their state as a choice for
president in November? The fact that he's black has nothing to do with the
reasons that I support him -- and these reasons include Dr. Keyes' pro-life
perspective. It seems remiss for an article to discuss the issues yours does
without mentioning that the man widely considered to be the most eloquent
pro-life advocate in the USA happens to be a black man and also happens to be
an independent candidate for president.
Alan Keyes is already on the ballot in Colorado. This weekend, we will find
out if he gets on the California ballot, via the nomination of the American
Independent Party (AIP). AIP switched its national party affiliation a few
days ago, joining a new party being formed by Keyes supporters. The new
national party is called America's Independent Party. With the affiliation of
the California party, the new party immediately becomes the third largest
national political party as measured by number of registered voters. That's
right, the over 300,000 voters registered with AIP in California is more than
the total registered nationwide in any of the other national Third Parties,
like Libertarian and whatnot.
Here in Maryland, I and others are petitioning to get a new party officially
recognized by the state. We need 10,000 signatures by August 4 to get on the
November ballot. Our party here is called Maryland Independent Party, and we
welcome all of good will who agree with the signers of the Declaration of
Independence that all of us are created equal,and are endowed by our Creator
with unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I think the effort to get Alan Keyes on the ballot would be a great follow-up
story, and could help change history. Are you up for that? If so, please go
MARYLAND INDEPENDENT PARTY
Candidate for Congress - Maryland's 4th District