June 08, 2009

A Minister Plays the Race Card to Promote Discrimination

Bishop Henry Jackson has made quite a name for himself in right-wing circles. He is a fixture on their PR machine, Fox News, is a published author, and is much in demand as a public speaker.

He has also determined that Washington, DC should NOT recognize same-sex marriages from other states and will do whatever he has to in order to prevent it, even playing the race card (he is African-American). From the GLAA blog:

Bishop Harry Jackson, the anti-gay minister leading the push for a referendum on the marriage-recognition bill recently passed by the D.C. Council, offers more lies, distortions, and self-promotion in his recent piece for Townhall.com:

Liberal writers and political hacks in DC revealed early in this struggle the disregard and lack of respect they have for black clergy through their very racist, liberal assumptions.... It’s as though they were saying, “We know that you are not smart enough to develop such a strong strategy on your own.” In addition they were saying, “We own the black voters in this region; they are on our political plantation. How dare you free them from their mental chains!”

The message, “Say No to Same-sex Marriage!” has resonated with DC residents from 13 years old and up who feel as though they were disenfranchised by a pretentious, arrogant group that have claimed media control in our city. The media protests demonstrate the effectiveness we have had in cultivating an awareness of the issue at hand....

It is sad indeed that, after all of the efforts by so many people to heal our city and build bridges of cooperation, a self-proclaimed minister of God would stoop to such slanders and stoke racial hostility in so unscrupulous a manner. I have never heard anyone remotely hint at "owning" black voters. I have never heard anyone express a "desire to turn DC into an east coast San Francisco." (God only knows what fevered fantasies are stirred in Jackson's mind by that phrase.) There has certainly been no need for HRC to funnel pots of money to D.C. Council members to "curry favor" with them. GLAA, which is an all-volunteer, local advocacy group with little money, never gives a cent to politicians — indeed, many politicians give money to GLAA at our annual fundraising reception. Yet GLAA has built and maintained cordial and productive relationships with many Council members, based on our honesty, fairness, reputation for expertise and spirit of cooperation. It may be hard for Jackson to imagine how a group could be influential without spreading a lot of money around, but GLAA is a living example.

Jackson refers to the "'faux' civil rights claims of the gay community'" as part of his ploy to divide Washingtonians, ignoring the fact that the Human Rights Act in this majority-black city has included sexual orientation among its categories of prohibited discrimination for three and one-half decades, and despite the fact that a majority of the city's gay population is itself African American. We are glad at least that Jackson admits his eagerness to obtain national money. As to his "plantation" rhetoric, the closest thing to a plantation hereabouts is the city's subordination to the U.S. Congress — the very body to which Jackson and his cohorts eagerly run the moment our locally-elected legislature doesn't vote their way.

One wonders how Jackson can talk about other people's "media control" in light of the coverage Jackson has received for his inflammatory demonstrations. As to the people of Washington being disenfranchised, we would like to remind Jackson that the members of the D.C. Council who voted overwhelmingly for legal recognition of same-sex marriages were all elected by D.C. voters, whereas the members of Congress whom Jackson has urged to intervene were not. As to biblical marriage being the foundation of our culture, is Jackson now advocating the legalization of Old-Testament-style polygamy?

It's also worth noting that Jackson has never cast a vote in DC himself. From the Washington Blade:
The pastor of a Maryland church who’s seeking a voter referendum in D.C. to overturn a city law recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions did not become a registered voter in the city until April 22, according to voter registration records.

Rev. Harry Jackson Jr., pastor of Christian Hope Church in Beltsville, Md., and the lead proponent of the marriage referendum, lists his D.C. residence on the city’s voter registration rolls as an apartment in the upscale Whitman Condominium at 910 M St., N.W.

The city’s election law requires that persons proposing a voter referendum be a District resident and a registered D.C. voter. People participating in the signature gathering process to place a referendum on the ballot must also be District residents and duly registered voters.
I bring this story to your attention to remind everyone that someone preaching such hatred against those who disagree with him, who distorts (and sometimes completely ignores) facts, and who works around and manipulates the law to serve his purposes, is not acting in a manner even remotely consistent with how Jesus lived on Earth.

Just being the loudest one to claim "the truth" doesn't give your words and actions moral authority, only acting consistently within the scope of the Bible and the example of Jesus' life does. Again, discriminating against ANYONE is wrong because we are ALL God's children.

Remember, John 3:16 (KJV) says WHOSOEVER believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. My GLBT brothers and sisters, you are just as much a part of the Whosoever as I am, regardless of the hateful rhetoric spewed by people like Bishop Jackson.

I'm really tired of God's name and word being so badly twisted and used to manipulate people into behavior and attitudes so clearly at odds with His will and His word. Please share your stories of love and acceptance and work toward marginalizing hatred like that Bishop Jackson is attempting to spread. At some point I pray he and those like him take a breath and listen to people like you and actually consider that your stories might be valid and might represent the will of God better than what he's trying to sell. Then he could help people move closer to God instead of trying to drive a wedge between people and between those he discriminates against and the Lord.

As a positive footnote, you can read the Washington Blade's report on the 130 ministers who signed a declaration supporting marriage equality. Many of those ministers happened to be black.

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