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Temia Brinson to African-American Clergy: Re-Defining Your Religion is Not the Answer

It has been widely reported that a group of African-American Pastors are campaigning against President Barack Obama based on his position on same-sex marriage.


It has been widely reported that a group of African-American Pastors are campaigning against President Barack Obama based on his position on same-sex marriage. Instead of stating the obvious, the fact that the President’s position has no merit in terms of becoming law, these pastors are biblically incorrect. When looking at the religion of Christianity, it is clear that God gave mankind a choice. Just look at the story of Adam and Eve. He placed them in the Garden of Eden along with the tree of Knowledge of good and evil. God placed the tree of life in the garden as well. Then God gave Adam and Eve a choice. He said that they can eat from either tree, but each tree has a consequence. Just as God gave Adam and Eve a choice, so should people have a choice today. Christianity teaches that God seeks a relationship with mankind. Like any other relationship or romance, it is based on love, shared goals, and shared beliefs. Because of God’s love for his creation, he sacrificed his only son’s life so that mankind could have eternal life. Even after displaying the greatest act of love thru his death, Christ still wants people to accept him of their own free will. This is not a religion thru force of will or acceptance. In fact, the entire protocol of Christianity is based on the lure of love. It was Christ that taught his disciples to travel the world and spread the faith. How should they spread the faith? It is thru love. Specifically, Christ said to “teach all nations”, not “legislate” all nations. There is no reference in the bible where Christ says to make his teachings law. It seems clear to me that some Christians today, who are so adamant about making Christianity a law, are using the legislative process as an excuse to get out of their religious responsibilities. This is a slippery slope to use the law as a tool to force Christianity on others and it is not the intention of Christ. 
Excluding the element of free will is a distortion of Christianity and it will turn this Democracy back into a Theocracy. Believe it or not, America was a Theocracy where laws were based on distorted religious views. History has proven that religion can be distorted and brought into law, with the sole purpose of controlling a group of people. For years, Christian leaders have incorrectly taught that women should be silent and not allowed to speak. This teaching was based on scriptures that were taken out of context, misinterpreted, and used to control women for decades. Subsequently, these distorted religious views shaped a culture of male dominance and denied women their right to vote. Women rights are not the only example of America as a Theocracy. Dare we forget the enslavement of an entire race based on religion? It was the interpretation of the bible that was used to justify the free enterprise of slavery. Brainwashing people into thinking they were cursed by God, weren’t human enough to have any rights and should be grateful for their mere existence had its benefits. Are these the days of Theocracy that you are so valiantly advocating for? To become a nation of forced religion and disrespect for God’s requirement of free will? In essence, you are high jacking your own religion. When you exclude the very foundation of a religion (love/free will), and then claim your actions are because of religion…. You have re-defined that religion.
There are some religious leaders who are indeed, re-defining their religion. The Miami Herald reported Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant as saying, “the president’s position on marriage is “at the heart” of the problem.” Although he made this statement, Bryant did say in another report that he would vote for President Obama. However, I take issue with his first statement. It is the Christian “church” and their failed responsibilities that is “at the heart” of the problem.  According to their faith, Christians have a responsibility to love, teach, convert, and pray for those that do not believe. How does the problem rest with President Obama when he is only a president? He cannot be the President of the United States and the Pope at the same time.  Although he is President for all, he cannot be “Christ” to all. No, that’s your job. Since you are claiming to be a leader in your faith, it is your duty to show Christ to all. This is a classic case of apples and oranges.  By demanding an apple (President Obama) take the characteristics of an orange (Religious Leader), you are shifting responsibility and re-defining your own religion.  

Another report by Mother Jones says that “In late July, Rev. William Owens, head of the Coalition of African-American Pastors, appeared at the National Press Club to denounce President Barack Obama’s support for same-sex marriage, which he claimed enabled child molestation. “If you watch the men who have been caught having sex with little boys, you will note that all of them will say that I was molested as a child,” he declared. “For the president to condone this type of thing…is irresponsible.”

If there is ever an example of distorting what a person condones based on what was actually said, this is definitely that example. The President’s statement did not condone, nor did it reference anything other than adult relationships.  It is this type of biased thinking that makes it so dangerous for a religion to become law. Just as previous generations have misused the scriptures to gain cheap labor, so is Owens using spin to advance his own agenda. The same report from Mother Jones indicates that Owens is a conservative and one can only guess that he may soon be the “go to guy” for when conservatives reach out to the African-American community. Of course, reaching out to African-Americans may come with a very generous honorarium.  For some religious leaders, the power of positioning may be a much better payoff than actually leading their flock to the path of righteousness. This may have more to do with the Almighty Dollar and less to do with the Almighty God.

The right to vote is the very fiber of our democracy.  Remembering the bloodshed it took for women and blacks to have the right to vote in this country should be enough to encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote. It is offensive to learn there are African-American clergy who are actually encouraging their parishioners not to vote.
In fact, according to the Daily News, “Some black clergy see no good presidential choice between a Mormon candidate and one who supports gay marriage, so they are telling their flocks to stay home on Election Day.”
The recklessness of these pastors in misleading their flock is not only offensive, but shows a lack of character and wisdom. This is not the time for pastors to mislead their followers and to play politics when there is so much at stake during this election cycle. It is possible that the next president may fill several vacancies on the Supreme Court. The next president could appoint an attorney general that will either fight voter suppression or move it forward. In reality, there are movements within this country that have the sole purpose of turning this democracy back into a theocracy.
Temia Brinson is the President & CEO of Rejoice Magazine, which is a Faith-based, Christian Lifestyle Magazine that is published in print and online. For more information visit


 Temia Brinson
 same-sex marriage
 Rejoice Magazine
 Rev. William Owens
 Jamal Bryant

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