Friday, January 18, 2008

Can we hear the call for change?

Sometimes, I don't really feel the need to say much when I find an article or a story or a commentary online. Sometimes the author of said work has been more-than-eloquent & anything I say or write would just not do it justice.

So is the case today with the article below written by Rev. Dr. Bennie Colclough, an African American Minister in South Carolina who graduated from Yale Divinity School, and is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

Dr. Colclough speaks in his article about civil rights hero, Julian Bond, who is joining the fight here in Florida against sullying our state's constitution with an ugly attempt to make people like me second-class citizens.

I hope you will read the Reverend's words, and take them to heart.

Can We Hear The Call For Change?


The African-American community should pay close attention to what Sen. Barack Obama has said about equality for gay and lesbian Americans and the correlation of religion-based bigotry and discrimination against African-Americans.

The struggle for justice, equality, and dignity for gay and lesbian Americans continues and Sen. Obama and other leaders have engaged the African-American faith community on this issue.

Are we listening?

As an African-American minister, I many years ago heard the call for change on this issue and it is still my resolve today to be a missionary for justice and equality, to be courageous, true to my faith, and challenge the African-American faith community, to love God with our whole heart and our neighbors as ourselves.

The African-American faith community must defend the human dignity of all people as distinguished leaders in our community are calling us to this task.

Consider Coretta Scott King’s remarks in a 1998 address in which she said that “Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”

Just last week it was announced that Julian Bond, an icon in the civil rights movement for nearly 50 years and longtime national chairman of the NAACP, has stepped into a leadership role with the Fairness for All Families Campaign in Florida, a statewide coalition effort working to prevent an effort to write discrimination against gays and lesbians into that state’s constitution.

These leaders recognize the history of religion-based bigotry and discrimination toward our own community. We know that religion was once misused to justify slavery.

Today it is being misused to deny members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community full and equal rights.

The African-American faith community must recognize the perpetrators and injustice, and bring about an end to the hurt that has been caused to so many.

Discrimination is morally wrong and un-Christian. Let me repeat this: Discrimination is morally wrong and un-Christian.

Sen. Barack Obama has said that he strongly disagrees with the views of people like gospel singer Donnie McKlurkin and others who use religion to attack members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Those of us who are missionaries for justice and equality are hopeful that Senator Barack Obama will be true to his platform for change, and speak out against religious bigotry coming from a select group of African-American evangelical leaders. His appearance Monday night at a presidential debate in Myrtle Beach would be a good opportunity for him to do just that.

While Senator Obama’s candidacy for president of the United States offers hope, let us not forget a facet of society that has had little hope for change the last 20 years. The purpose of our government, first and foremost, is equality under the law, respect for human rights, and protection of all our citizens, whether they are white, black, male, female, disabled, Christian, or gay. We must be about the business of building a beloved community with a foundation of compassion and justice for all.

The Declaration of Independence says: “All people are created equal and endowed with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Bible says, “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:30-31 There are no exceptions about who our neighbors are.

We must be courageous enough on our watch to change our society for the better.

So let us hear the call for change from our leaders and join them in challenging those people who misuse religious teachings to justify attitudes of condemnation and discrimination toward our gay and lesbian friends and neighbors.

Rev. Dr. Bennie Colclough of South Carolina serves as co-chairman for the S.C. Progressive Network and has been a longtime advocate for the LGBT community. He is a contributing writer for Faith In America, an organization that works to help the public better understand the harm caused by religion-based bigotry and discrimination.


~Deb said...

The thing that I'm worried about is that Obama talks "BIG"...with little experience. He has promised an awful lot in a short time - which makes me think twice. Now think of it like this: if you're an employer, who would you hire as the best candidate? The person who talks big and makes big promises, but doesn't know one thing about the company? Or, the person with experience under their belt who talks realistically setting realistic goals?

Just a thought. When it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. I see why a lot of people are voting for him, and if he does win, I really hope he comes through with his word!

God bless!

Miss Britt said...

I love this article. It is un-christian to hate gays - Amen to that.

This is why it infuriates me so much when I see people use MY faith - a faith that is supposed to be based in love - to brow beat others with hate.

And I for one am grateful for a politician that is willing to stand up and say "Christian values" does not mean "bigotry".

Mr. C said...

Deb: you are certainly correct in pointing out Obama's "big" talk! I know that the senator from Illinois promises so much, too. He actually incites hope in me. That's why I plan on voting for him in the Florida primary. I personally want to see & hear in a potential leader of our country a person who understands that we can't realize great things if we're not ready to hope big & work hard for them, and create for ourselves a mindset that all is not really lost.

I also hope I'm realistic enough to understand that WHOEVER is out next president will have a difficult job simply cleaning up the multiple messes that the current occupant of the White House & his minions have wrought upon us. I want a leader who can inspire me & others to understand the only limitations a great country like ours has are those we place on ourselves!

It seems to me that, simplistic as it may sound, in life in general, everything we want begins with us thinking of it first. Our thoughts--as represented by our words--are far more powerful than most of us would care to acknowledge, but I think what too few of us realize is that positive thoughts manifest positive reality, just like negative thinking creates negative reality.

As Norman Vincent Peale once wrote, "What the mind can conceive and believe, it will achieve." Great things are possible if we allow ourselves to believe they can happen. That's what I've been missing lo these 7+ years. Although Senator Obama may not necessarily be the dream candidate for most GLBT Americans, for me, at this moment, he represents a complete change of mind & heart for America.

I am so beyond-ready for that!

Thank you again, Deb, for always speaking YOUR mind & heart, too! You always make me think & I really, really need to do that more often!


Mr. C said...

Miss B: you have put it so succinctly! Hating ANYONE is truly un-Christian, but my experience has been that it makes it so much easier for some people to find justification for their fears & their prejudices by saying that their religion demands it of them. They have no choice but to condemn people like me, they say, because their Bible & their "values" tell them so.

Maybe it's their way to not have to really think about it at all. Who knows??