Saturday, April 6, 2013

Flexing their muscle? Or separating selves when it comes to gay marriage?

Cardinal Francis George turned to some muscle to bolster the Catholic Church’s stance with regards to the legalization of marriage for gay couples – the clergy of African-American oriented churches.

GEORGE: Looking for support
For it was the Catholic Conference of Illinois that arranged for the head of the Catholic Archdiocese to meet Friday with several black clergy members. Those include James Meeks – the one-time state senator who gave up his political post last year to return to being merely the head of one of the largest congregations in Chicago.

IT IS AN impressive figure that Meeks can offer up – his Salem Baptist Church in the Roseland neighborhood can claim 10,000 members and often get that many people packed into their church for Sunday services.

Yet there are times when I wonder if the real truth is that he has about 10,000 people willing to listen to him – out of the many billions of people who live on Planet Earth!

A part of me has that thought reinforced by the notion that Meeks originally thought he was going to be a political powerbroker on the Springfield scene who would be able to offer his orders to other politicians.

Perhaps he thought he had the word of God within him?

HIS STINT IN the Illinois Senate wound up being more forgettable than anything else. Even though he always talked about himself as being the next governor or next mayor or whatever. Instead, he’s just a neighborhood preacher.

And no, it wouldn’t have made any difference if Meeks were still in the state Senate. For the legislator who replaced Meeks (state Sen. Napoleon Harris, D-Flossmoor) didn’t vote for the bill – but it still passed there back on Valentine’s Day.

MEEKS: Ego bigger than influence?
In fact, George met with several neighborhood preachers from across the South Side on Friday. I don’t doubt they have sway within their congregations. And that piecing those congregations could create a sizable group.

Yet this is an issue where I seriously wonder if the black-oriented churches are going to wind up cutting themselves off from the mainstream of thought – that is now seeing that this whole issue of who can marry and who cannot is really nothing more than a matter of letting all people have the same opportunity within life.

WHEN I HEAR of people making sayings that somehow imply their religion forbids this, it makes me think that they’re the types who want to use people’s religious faith to turn against others who aren’t exactly like them.

That thought bothers me more than anything. It almost seems like self-segregation – although I realize how “loaded” that phrase can be in this particular context.

Earlier this week while on duty for a suburban newspaper for which I write, I covered an event in which a political candidate who was African-American kept saying the only reason that people were paying so much attention to the concept of gay marriage these days was because of the gay rights lobby. (I’m not naming him because he’s a fringe candidate with no chance of Election Day success come Tuesday).

He said they’re simply better organized than the network of clergy and civil rights activists have become in the 21st Century. As though there’s no way the issue could have any merits on its own.

THESE ARE THE same clergy, by the way, who are going about calling up Illinois General Assembly members to try to sway/pressure/intimidate them into not backing a gay marriage measure when it comes up for a vote this spring in the Illinois House of Representatives.

Now, we get the sight of the black clergy pairing up with the head of the Catholic church in Chicago – all to ratchet up the political pressure to get House members to vote “no.”

Back in the days of old, we used to get the sight of civil rights activists in protest marches, with a few white, Catholic priests at their side to show solidarity.
The modern-day pairing takes on a different ideological lean these days
It’s a shame that pairing has become so ideologically twisted that the two are now on the side of exclusion.


No comments: