Friday, January 06, 2006

Pulpit Priorities

Insight arrives in a post from a self-identified gay Greek-American musician from Hyde Park, Sandouri Dean Bey on his Aman Yala blog.

He notes the coincidence of rising youth violence in Black sections of Boston and many Black pastor's obsession with same-sex marriage. Not long ago, the clergy in Roxbury, Dorchester, upper JP and the South End, joined to face issues that directly affected their parishioners and larger communities.

In a miracle of urban healing, Black on Black violence decreased dramatically. Streets were safer, as the whole kettle of the community gave off a gentle warmth instead of scalding steam.

Now, as Bey put it:
The problem is that by taking sides in the Culture Wars (as a way of winning the street wars waging in places like Roxbury and Dorchester), it seems to me that the black clergy and the larger black community are playing into the hands of conservative politicians whose fiscal policies ultimately undermine black families and hurt the inner city. Morality is not the problem. Racism and economic inequality are; as are tax cuts for the wealthy and budget cuts that eliminate much needed social programs. Black clergy are doing exactly what the Republicans want them to do. They are placing a greater emphasis on the so-called moral issues than they are on the larger socio-economic issues that are the root cause of violence among urban black youth.
This theme of the Black community being used by groups who oppose real reform that would provide long-term solutions recurs with greater frequency. It's likely that as more people see the underlying contradiction, they'll leave the anti-SSM/anti-gay folk to rant into their own megaphones.

Meanwhile, Yala nailed a key point. Because the community leaders can't accomplish everything, they have to decide what's important. Teens with guns and knives murdering each other must surely deserve great attention. As hard as it is to strike at the underlying causes, these pastors and people have done it before. Kicking off the distractions is an essential first step.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ex-Gay Watch:
January 04, 2006
Homosexuality - Biggest Problem of the Inner City According to Lou Sheldon

Sometimes it's nice to know we queers aren't the only ones who find Lou Sheldon creepy; Tucker Carlson does too.

My editor had just assigned me a story about religious revival in the inner city. The idea was, black churches might be better equipped to help the urban poor than government aid agencies. Someone suggested I talk to the Reverend Lou Sheldon, the head of a group called the Traditional Values Coalition. Apparently he was an expert on the subject. So I called him.

Sheldon came to my office for the interview. We sat across from each other in my cubicle and I threw a series of questions at him. He answered each one impatiently, then stopped me. "You want to know what the single biggest problem facing inner-city black neighborhoods is?" Yes, I nodded, readying my pen and pad. Sheldon paused. "Homosexuality," he said.

As a general matter, I try to give people like Lou Sheldon the benefit of the doubt. Just because you oppose the practice of homosexuality (and most of the world's six billion people still do oppose to it) doesn't mean you're a bigot. Some people have principled religious objections. I wanted to keep an open mind.

But I couldn't. Homosexuality was the biggest problem in the inner cities? Bigger than crime? And unemployment? And poverty? And broken families? And AIDS? And for that matter, graffiti? Nope, there was no way around it. What the Reverend Lou had said was bizarre. And creepy too.