As I was growing up in the then-segregated city of Chattanooga in the 1950s, the NAACP was an important part of my world. I heard about it in school – many teachers and principals were members and openly advocated for students to become involved. But it was in church that the influence of the NAACP was most pervasive. Often, pastors and other church leaders were officers in the local branch, and the NAACP was considered, in effect, an arm of the ministry of the church.
Now, however, with the organization’s decision supporting same-sex marriage, it appears that the black church is no longer welcome in the NAACP. In response, the NAACP will find that it is no longer welcome in much of the church. And that is a shame.
Formed in 1909 to counter the accelerating disenfranchisement of African Americans by southern state legislatures, as well as legally sanctioned racial discrimination throughout the nation, the NAACP led the fight for equal rights. In an era when blacks could be lynched with impunity throughout the South, the NAACP fiercely advocated for the rights of African American citizens to be protected from unwarranted attack.
In 1954, under the leadership of its chief counsel, Thurgood Marshall, later the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court, the NAACP effectively reshaped modern America by bringing and winning the case of Brown v. Board of Education, which resulted in the outlawing of public school segregation throughout the nation. Because of many such successes, the NAACP has had an enormous impact for good in our society.
Throughout its history, the NAACP’s greatest base of support has been the black church. It is safe to say that without that support, the organization could have accomplished little. Now, however, the NAACP has apparently decided that it can dispense with the support of black Christians, and in fact, can safely thumb its nose at them. That, at least, is my reading of the decision this past May to endorse same-sex marriage. Claiming that “marriage equality” is a civil right, the NAACP board voted 62-2 to back that policy. In doing so, the NAACP decisively cut itself off from its roots in the black church.
Based on the comments of NAACP leaders regarding their decision, I doubt they really understand how unbridgeable is the gap they have created. For example, National Public Radio reported how the head of the Indiana NAACP, Barbara Bolling, responded when asked about the reaction of members in her state. She said with a laugh, “Right after it was announced, kind of a little firestorm started.” And when one of her branch presidents resigned in protest, Bolling thought it was just “an emotional thing.” National Chairwoman Roslyn Brock says of those who oppose the group’s move, “we hope they will evolve and stand firmly with us.”
What these NAACP leaders fail to grasp is that, for most members of the black church, it’s not an emotional thing, nor an issue of personal preference. It’s an issue of biblical authority. The black church’s opposition to same-sex marriage is firmly rooted in passages such as Romans 1:26-27, which says, “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”
For Bible-believing Christians, such statements of scripture are decisive for our attitude toward homosexual relationships. We will never “evolve” to a stance of approval. For that reason, the black church as a whole will never follow where the NAACP is attempting to lead us.
Not now, not ever.
In effect, the NAACP has demanded of the black church: You must choose between us and God. I believe most of us will say with the apostle Peter, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).
(A 1966 graduate of Howard School and captain of the Hustlin’ Tigers football team his senior year, he went on to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he graduated with a degree in electrical engineering. After working for IBM in Kentucky and Colorado, he is now the pastor of a church in Harrisburg, Pa.)
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I was quite young during the Civil Rights Movement. The first time I saw a man by the name of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I was watching footage alongside my father on a small black and white TV. Although young, what stuck most in my memory was that many southern black clergy, even locally, took a stand against Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. That is until they saw he and the movement had the support of many whites and many white clergy. In fact, although the story is told differently now, I recall the reason he was not chosen to preach at a local black church was he was considered too controversial, and black local leaders didn't want to upset the "sensibilities" of local white segregationists, fearing losing their support, financial and otherwise.
Dr. King was kicked out of many southern black churches, where he was often accused of being a rabble-rouser and troublemaker. The number done on Dr. King was only equal to the number committed against the likes of Rosa Parks and fellow blacks, whites and others fighting for equal rights for all Americans of their times.
The Bible is often taken out of context and, depending on whose hands are controlling, dictates to different people what the powers and powerful want them to hear and believe during various times, historical periods, and depending on the climate of the times. Lest we forget, the Bible was also used to justify slavery; commit genocide against the Native American-Indian people, to justify segregation and Jim Crow. In times of war, the Bible is used to justify war. In times of peace, to justify compassion, humanity, love and respect for our fellow man. "Thou shalt not kill," unless there's a war to be fought.
I think Dr. King, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, John Brown (white abolitionist, who fought and died in his quest to abolish slavery, and should be considered the original Civil Rights fighter) and all those other nameless, sometimes faceless, black, white and other individuals, who fought and died believing they were paving a way for a better America would be on the side of the NAACP on the issue of gay marriage or unions.
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Hallelujah. In this day of everybody trying to take God and prayer out of everything I am so proud to see the black church stand up to the pressures of the NAACP. I am behind you 100 percent.
Once upon a time the NAACP was necessary to fight for the rights of black people. But they are
(in my opinion) just about as useless in today’s society as unions are. Black people have all the same rights as any other American in today’s society just as the American worker has many many laws on the books protecting their rights as workers not to be enslaved by greedy business owners.
Today, the NAACP and the unions exist only to line the pockets of those in charge of those organizations. The NAACP obviously doesn’t represent the millions of black church members any more. The unions are only interested in taking the workers dues so they can buy politicians to do their bidding, leaving the worker footing the bill and receiving very little in return.
Our prayers are with you as you fight this battle to free yourselves from the oppression of the NAACP and their twisted liberal ideology. Only you can stand up to them and stand up for what is right.
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Considering the man that helped Dr. King write the “I Have A Dream” speech was an openly gay man and was one of Dr. King’s closest advisers speaks volumes about his thoughts on civil rights. Coretta Scott King’s comments on comparing the civil rights struggles of the LGTB community and the African-American community are well documented. Remember another one of Dr. King’s quotes : “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”