Black Clergy, Petitioning Government, and The Failure of Black Responsibility

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Prior to last week’s election, an ad hoc group of black clergy led by Jacqueline C. Rivers- executive director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies in Boston, and recently elected Bishop, Frank M. Reid III, former longtime senior pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church in Baltimore, MD., delivered a letter to Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn.

Heavily anticipating a win against Donald Trump, the open letter questioned how Clinton’s administration might have addressed various problems within black communities- high rates of abortion, police brutality, and the lack of quality education and economic opportunities.

The 25 signatories, self-identified Democrats and “Independents,” reminded Clinton of the importance of the black vote, and insisted Clinton not ignore the “69,000 black churches in the US.” They also demanded that Clinton “accord the Black Church the same respect that would be conferred on wealthy white donors.”

Good luck with that because it’s never going to happen. Blacks have neither the financial nor political capital to demand they be considered equal to white donors (or any other demographic), let alone taken seriously when they do. As black voters, we haven’t earned that kind of respect.

The coalition of black faith leaders concluded the letter by requesting a meeting with her during her first 100 days in office to discuss these and other issues in more detail.

Unfortunately for these concerned black faith leaders, there will be no meeting with the Clinton administration because there will be no Clinton administration. Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the Untied States.

That there was no letter delivered to president-elect Donald Trump’s headquarters is symptomatic of the black dependence on Democrat policies to solve black crises.

As representatives of black Christianity, the signatories should be commended for having brought attention to several important issues complicating the quality of life for too many black Americans.

However, this letter was counterproductive. Why are black clerics still trying to persuade Democrats to take black concerns seriously? The constructive criticism isn’t of these black religious leaders, necessarily, but with the habit of outsourcing black responsibility and the preoccupation with the government to solve the calamities in black society.

Democrats have deliberately taken the black vote for granted since black folk decided en masse to compliantly give their votes to the Democrat party while asking for nothing respectable in return for their faithfulness.

Democrats see no obligation to earn black votes but still receive them; Republicans observe blacks being politically snubbed, its apparent acceptability, and simply don’t see a reason to bother. Though Donald Trump has expressed some interest and sympathy for the concerns of black society, there’s no guarantee that as president, Republicans will act on that interest, meaning the bipartisan habit of ignoring black voters will most likely continue.

Both political parties being indifferent to black problems is a reality but blacks alone are responsible.

Aside from rightly petitioning the government to pass legislation that addresses education- improved quality, school vouchers, and parental choice- and economic issues- reduced regulation, encouraging enterprise zones, and minimizing minimum wage costs to make blacks more employable, black religious leaders shouldn’t plead with politicians to resolve black moral pathologies that can and must be primarily challenged by local churches in their respective communities.

To be certain, the majority of the issues raised in this correspondence are moral problems.

The missive’s full-throated condemnation of the devastating effects of abortion on black communities is spot-on. The catastrophic impact of abortion in black communities and the rates in which black women have abortions is addressed, noting that, “Blacks account for roughly 38% of all abortions in the country though we represent only 13% of the population.” That’s racial self-extermination.

The letter also affirms that because people are “created in God’s image,” innocent human life deserves protection against the “deliberate destruction… in its most vulnerable state.”

Yet the cosigners questioned Clinton (and the inquiry has to be rhetorical considering the topic, whom they addressed) as to what her administration might have done to mitigate the high numbers of black abortions. Hillary Clinton was the recipient of an award named after racial eugenicist Margret Sanger and is an enthusiastic supporter of abortion up to the point of birth. Democrat party devotion to abortion is religious in nature, and it ain’t changing.

Black church leaders are much better suited to confront the abortion issue- not only because it’s a moral problem- but because of their proximity to the problem. The women having these abortions are members of their local churches and religious institutions. The problem and solution of reducing high abortion rates comes down to moral redemption and black responsibility, and that starts with local church leaders redeeming theologies of life that flatly denounce sexually-destructive behaviors (including abortion as birth control) and encouraging productive ones; not government intervention.

The same goes for the disproportionately high black crime rates that encourage police presence in black neighborhoods.

The delegates of black Christianity were correct in highlighting black criminality, a “calamity” as they called it, but they sought action and resolution from the wrong person, party, and medium.

Though effective policing and commensurate sentencing for criminality are needed, black churchgoers must deliberately and resolutely rebuke the depravity of black thugs pursing death and devastation or more blacks- particularly the innocent- will suffer the predictable consequences. Black churches must reject the tradition of silence regarding this issue. Black reticence condones the very community-destroying behaviors these black Christians were spotlighting.

If blacks want to reduce the occurrences of lethal police encounters, black churches must vociferously repudiate the cultural disorders and criminal stereotypes that draw the eye and ire of law enforcement. Black churches would do well in reviving and emphasizing a religious temperament that includes family stability, fatherhood, self-respect, personal responsibility, and the love of neighbor and self to minimize black criminality and tension-filled police responses. Black churches need to maximize the gospel and other resources that are instrumental in changing lives and overcoming the negative aspects of black culture.

Blacks must control the things that are within our power to control. We must stop preserving the posture of weakness and helplessness, depending on politics to save us.

The issues raised by these black church leaders are significant, and more blacks need to honestly confront what’s destroying black society, painful as it is. We must candidly identify the defeatism in black society and confess the fact that we’re sabotaging ourselves.

Black faith leaders have been called and entrusted to bear witness to the transformative nature of the Christian gospel on the lives it touches. Petitioning the altar of government for restoration implies that the gospel of Christ is pragmatically insufficient when compared to the gospel of big government.

Salvation is from God, not the government.

America’s Economic Situation Continues to Worsen Under Obama

The US job market/economy is MUCH worse than the administration is letting on.  Labor force statistics from released on Friday convicts president Obama of economic negligence.  The unemployment rate fell from 7% to 6.7%, but the labor force participation rate fell to 62.8%, the lowest since 1978 (hey, Jimmy Carter).  This low matches the 36-year low hit in October 2013.  Worst still, only 74,000 jobs were added in December- embarrassing the administration that predicted more than 200,000 new jobs for the month.

Those people no longer in the workforce increased by 525,000 in December; 2.9 million Americans left the labor force in 2013, totaling almost 92 million people that are no longer considered a part of the labor force.

As a reminder, the country has been in an economic “recovery” since June, 2009.

The economic policies of the Obama administration has only created 6.3 million net new jobs created since he declared that the economy was in a recovery in 2009.  That’s roughly half of what could’ve been created had Obama kept pace with the previous ten economic recoveries.

This is the soft underbelly to any claim by the President’s supporters that the economy has turned a corner under Barack Obama’s leadership.

For November and December, the “U-6” jobless rate that measures all of those out of work — including those who are underemployed and able but discouraged dropouts from the workforce — held stable at 13.1 percent.

There are several other indicators that demonstrate the American economy continues to be held captive by Obama’s economic ineptitude:

– The seasonally-adjusted number of Americans qualifying for unemployment claims at the end of December was 2,865,000 — an increase of approximately 50,000 over the prior week.

– Since late December, roughly 1.3 million people have run out of these unemployment benefits because they’ve been out of work so long that they’they’ve used up their lawfully-allotment of benefits.  If emergency jobless benefits are extended by Congress- which is a likely possibility, it will be the 12th extension since 2008.  Extending unemployment payments for three months would cost an additional $6 billion.  Another year could cost more than $25 billion.

– Nationally, more than 20 million Americans are unemployed.

– The Social Security Administration said the number of people receiving disability benefits hit an all-time high in December of 10,988,269 recipients — with the average per person benefit coming close to $1,150 per month.  Both the amount of recipients and the amount of benefits are all-time records.

Also affecting the state of the economy are the various fees, taxes and penalties associated with ObamaCare — from the penalty of one percent of one’s income (or $95, whichever is higher) for not being insured to increased premiums and deductibles that Americans are responsible to pay for allegedly better insurance plans Obama’s health care mandate that people are forced into joining.  These punitive penalties negatively affect the wallets of middle-class Americans because they forcibly take away money that could be spent in more productive ways — ways that could have demonstrated an increase in consumer confidence in the economy.

Forcing money from the American people against their will — in this case, for mandated health insurance — makes them poorer.  No matter how the Obama Administration attempts to spin this ongoing catastrophe, forced wealth redistribution is— regardless of how diligent efforts are to assign it with religious morality or good intentions.

So what’s the plan of the man whose administration is in an executive and moral freefall?  It’s to extend unemployment benefits, increase the minimum wage, reduce income inequality and fight poverty with the creation of so-called “promise zones.”

In other words, Obama prefers campaign gimmicks and televised sound bites rather than crafting a serious economic policy- or looking busy while doing nothing.  It appears that there’s no grey matter among the President and his brain trust.

That the President is stoically begging Congress to extend unemployment benefits, again, is a tacit admission that the economic policies of his administration has failed.  His populist recovery strategy is a bad attempt to cover failure.  Is this even apparent to the President or his advisors?

Our foolish President seems to think that increasing the minimum wage is serious and sound economic policy.  He said as much on January 7 when he said that extending unemployment benefits “helps the economy” and “creates new jobs.”

What?  How, exactly?

Again, this is a campaign issue but not a serious attempt at economic policy.  Just 2.6 percent of American workers earned the minimum wage.  Not even three percent!

The President’s approval ratings are in the basement — where many Millennials are coincidentally forced to live due to his economic stewardship — and he’s focused on the minimum wage?  What indicts the President is that data shows that increasing the minimum wages increases unemployment that has a detrimental effect on those who are in dire need of employment and work experience — namely the poor and black teenagers.  Surely, Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, Arthur Laffer and Project 21’s Horace Cooper can’t all be wrong.

The President’s other related focus is on “income inequality.”  This, too, is nothing more than a campaign issue predicated on manipulating emotions as a result of envy, covetousness and greed.

It’s also disingenuous and screams of hypocrisy.

Income inequality has risen under this President, and the rich have gotten richer.  That, and the President and his family just concluded a 17-day, $4 million dollar vacation to Hawaii — a vacation the First Lady continued to enjoy as a present for her 50th birthday at a cost of more than $200,000 during a recovery that has yet to truly manifest itself.

This causes the President’s credibility to take yet another hit (does he have any left?).  But happy birthday to you anyway, Mrs. Obama.

The president has also decided to create “promise zones”- five poor areas (San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) which have a plan on how “they will partner with local business and community leaders to make investments that reward hard work and expand opportunity,” and would provide the local governments and agencies “aid in cutting through red tape to get access to existing resources.”

What?

This sounds like a game of make-believe that blissfully naïve children play to entertain themselves.

Promise zones?  How about employment zones, Mr. President?  How about picking one geographic area — say, America — and putting as much energy into reducing regulation, “cutting red tape” and creating an economic climate conducive to job creation, expansion, and hiring as you do into campaigning on less-than-serious issues having little to no positive effect on the American economy?

Barack Obama has shown an indefensible indifference toward the American economy. As the unemployment rate, labor force participation rate, the numbers of Americans (47 million) on SNAP and the numbers of people forced into part time work show, Obama’s economic policies have been a disaster- and sadly, will continue to be.

If President Obama’s bluster is any indicator, 2014 will be an interesting yet frustrating year.  With another recycled State of the Union campaign speech — sorry, address — scheduled for later this month, ObamaCare premiums and penalties due and elections in the fall, Americans should prepare for the political rhetoric to drown out the needed discussion on actual solutions to the nation’s problems.

Buckle up, America.  It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.