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.

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August’s Economic Numbers

Listening to the President’s speech at the Milwaukee Laborfest this past week, he would have the country believe that the economy is booming- or at the very least, strengthening enough to give the country more confidence in his stewardship. Among other things, Obama bragged that his administration has created more than ten million jobs and that the country is stronger because Americans now have “quality, affordable health insurance that [we] can count on.” He also claimed that because of his economic policies, the American economy is stronger now than when he took office back in 2009.

 

But according to Obama, the main reason more people don’t realize how well the economy is doing is because of – the media. Yes, the same media that has defended his poor economic policies and have willingly spun the jobs report month in and month out- regardless of how bad the reports have been- are now at fault for- I guess- not spinning the economic news in his favor, enough.

 

Unfortunately for President Obama, the jobs numbers and other economic indicators paint a much different, less optimistic picture than the one he paints- regardless of television media input.

 

The initial estimate of the second-quarter GDP growth rate of four percent was revised upwards to 4.2%, which is news considering the first quarter contracted 2.1%. Though the second quarter growth is good news, when averaged with the first quarter, the economy has grown slightly above one percent.

 

As for jobs numbers, payroll processor ADP says that 204,000 jobs were added in August. Though down from the previous month’s job additions, August was thought to be the seventh month that private job creation exceeded 200,000. But, the BLS says that there were only 142,000 jobs created last month, far below what many economists expected. In addition, 7.3 million people are stuck in part-time employment and 92 million people aren’t in the labor force.

 

In August, the national unemployment rate ticked down to 6.1%. The U-6 rate, the more accurate indicator of unemployment- which includes discouraged workers, workers marginally attached to the labor force and those working part-time but prefer full-time work- is still 12%.

 

The unemployment rate for blacks is 11.4%, and there are more than twelve million blacks not in the labor force. Black teen unemployment dropped to 32.8%.   The unemployment rate for the politically coveted Latino demographic was 7.5%.

 

The labor force participation rate dropped slightly to 62.8%, once again matching the lowest point seen since 1978.

 

Other economic indicators show:

  • Every month for the last 36 months, at least 45 million Americans have been enrolled on food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), according to the Department of Agriculture. In May 2014, the last month in which the data is known, more than 46 million people received food stamps;
  • The Bureau of the Fiscal Service’s Monthly Treasury Report, 2013 saw over two trillion dollars in benefits and entitlements paid out by the federal government. Almost seventy percent of this amount was paid out in non-means tested programs, which means program eligibility isn’t tied to income;
  • According to Census data, more than a third of Americans are receiving some form of government assistance.
  • Data recently released by Sentier Research shows that the median household income is more than three percent lower now than it was when the recession was declared over in June 2009, and is almost five percent lower than it was in December, 2007.
  • The Pew Charitable Trust shows that no state in the country could claim employment gains between 2007-2014.
  • The National Retail Federation announced that the retail industry lost almost 18,000 jobs in August;
  • The Congressional Budget Office recently revised an April 2014 report on the potential effects of Obamacare on the economy over the next ten years. Not only does the CBO project a smaller labor force participation rate than pre-recession levels, but expects the labor force participation rate to be further reduced because ACA subsidies are tied to income. After a certain level (400% of the federal poverty level) the higher the income the fewer subsidies available for increasing premiums- a clear incentive not to work.
  • For all of Obama’s income inequality rhetoric that fuels class warfare and resentment, under his leadership “the richest 10 percent were the only income group of Americans that saw their median incomes rise,” according to a Federal Reserve survey.
  • Even AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka has soured on Obama’s economic policies. When a union leader calls out the President of the party it supports, funds, and perverts- in addition to other Democrats- you know it’s bad.

 

With statistics like these it’s no wonder why the majority of Americans– 54%- are disappointed in the job Obama is doing on the economy– and he is “doing a job” on the economy. It’s also no surprise that almost half of Americans- 49%- think the economy is still in recession.

 

But according to Obama, all this bad news is the fault of the media and not his irresponsible economic policies.