Bishop David Hall: Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2012 5:00 PM
Some time ago, I was asked a question by a reporter from the local newspaper, the Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tennessee. The question asked whether or not, I was concerned with the declining confidence of Americans with organized religion? Here is my answer: The declining confidence in organized religion is paralleled with its secularization through the means of mass media. Televised, high profiled ministry is everywhere and their credibility is not biblically based but rather personality driven. Couple the well publicized moral failures of some so called “Stars of the Faith Industry”, and the appearance of other clergy as greedy CEO’s of corporations, or semi political pundits and the rest is evident. Am I concern? Yes!
People no longer look to the Church for the basic answers critical to life as they once did. Our society is floundering under the loss of focus, in part to a lack of confidence and confusion about clergy and the moral absolutes and social traditions that anchored society.
One such absolute is marriage. The institution of marriage is a God-ordained, sacred union that undergirds the moral and social structure of the world community. As such, marriage and human sexuality should not be subject to or governed by the whims and feelings of special interest groups and politicians. For generations, our society has been radicalized by the dynamic impact of sex outside of the confines of the institution of marriage. Political influence has supplanted ecclesiastical, moral authority while social groups have evolved to challenge the very ethical discipline the church teaches.
Our goal is to help the Black community to listen and make better moral and political decisions. According to Dr. Cornel West African Americans are really not listening to Black intellectuals; only a few get real respect. “And the minimal immediate impact of black intellectual activity on the black community and American society reinforces common perceptions of the impotence, even uselessness, of black intellectuals. In good American fashion, the black community lauds those black intellectuals who excel as political activists and cultural artists; the life of the mind is viewed as neither possessing intrinsic virtues nor harboring emancipatory possibilities-solely short-term political gain and social status.”
Black clergy are intellectuals, and now labor in an enigmatic position. Dare we preach the moral lessons found in Scripture? (1) What does the church do when sinful behavior becomes politically acceptable? (2) What if church teachings become reclassified as political speech rather than the traditional Christian message based on moral authority? In spite of the answers clergy must preach. This fact has brought the Coalition of African American Pastors to Washington DC.
Who is Bill Owens? Rev. Bill Owens is a spokesman and preacher of the gospel and founder of the Coalition of African American Pastors, hereafter referred as CAAP. He has been insulted, accursed, abused, belittled, beleaguered, lied upon and ridiculed about his demands for proper treatment of the African American electorate on the part of both major political parties. Owens is a man cut from the mode of the Prophet Amos, who declared, “But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” or Jeremiah, who was called to a live a life of suffering and John the Baptist, whose head was cut off because he preached against the sexual immorality in the Herodian dynasty, etc. Owens is loyal to the Radical Imperative of “Thus Saith the Lord!” He is currently being branded by political and social pundits that don’t understand the mandate of preaching from the scriptures. He preaches morality based on godly authority and not political expediency. Owens is on a campaign to the secure the family because of the intrusion of gay marriage politics through political means. He is here to warn both parties to not continue taking the African American vote for granted. Owens knows that African Americans have a pragmatic conservatism that could be awakened.
The Religionist community he represents is unequivocally against Civil Unions and Same Sex Marriages. CAAP members are orthodox and biblically-centered in our teachings on all aspects of human sexuality, and specifically in regards to sexual promiscuity and fornication, whether heterosexual or homosexual. We agree with Rev. Owens that the destabilization of the nuclear family unit, by the fostering of sexual behavior that is counterproductive, and the spread of detestable and even deadly sexually transmitted diseases can be attributed to abuse of human sexual relationships. As followers of Christ, we stand with the Bible in declaring that sexual intercourse outside the confines of marriage is sin (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13, Matthew 5:28 and Romans 1:26-27.) Moreover, we affirm our role in standing with principles to promote and defend the faith, and practices of religion as taught by Jesus Christ. Our calling is a moral calling and our authority comes from God Almighty.
Statistics say that from 1973 -1985, organized religion rated 66% approval and in this year 2012, the rating is lowered to 44%. Why? Is it because the preacher has lost the respect or at least the aura of having a special calling? Maybe! The moral principles which represent God have been denigrated by political philosophies, special interest and weakened metaphors. The godly morality has been challenged by political expediency. CAAP is tired of status quo and the statistical evidence that places blacks at the bottom. Blacks suffer from the lowest educational opportunities, highest recidivism, highest out of marriage pregnancies, etc. It is time for a revival. We need change in our homes, communities, and institutions. CAAP is here to bring a clarion call for wholesale change in America. We are here to preach a message you may not want to hear. CAAP is here to help Black people understand better what it means to be Christian and American. We are here to promote profound moral, political and Christian decision making. There needs to be a transformational method for making decisions. A noted theologian stated the following: “The conclusions at which we arrive individually in seeking to be Christians in our culture are relative in at least four ways. They depend on the partial, incomplete, fragmentary knowledge of the individual; they are relative to the measure of his faith and his unbelief; they are related to the historical position he occupies and to the duties of his station in society; they are concerned with the relative value of things.” Christ And Culture, H. Richard Niebuhr.
Preachers are faced with the task of making God’s morality real and our people to become better Christians. The noted theologian, Karl Barth warned this age about the “diastatic dilemma.” This theological dilemma concerns how to conceive a relationship between humanity and divinity without either reducing God to a human foundation or rendering God beyond human experience altogether. It is time for God to be a more real and practical part of decision making!
God has given His unimpeachable “Word” to be preached by His creation. His preachers are thoroughly impeachable, flawed and utterly without defense because we are human. Barth said, “The Word of God is the revealed Word in Jesus Christ that is timeless, and expresses the will of God to every generation.” It is that word we preach to win hearts and minds.
Those who hate the preacher say that preaching has become too ideological. The message is still about a Christ, sent of God to die for our sins. Man stands in a paradoxical situation where his freedom and finiteness are established by his recognition of the moral teachings in the word. CAAP is doing God’s will!
Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in- law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10: 34-36) Preaching a clarion word is my religious duty and my constitutional right under the First Amendment. I also cite equal protection under the law, the Fourteenth Amendment principle that grants the same “due process” currently used by Same Sex Union advocates as my right, too! Therefore, we are here to assert our rights to speak against Same Sex Unions and Gay Marriage, and even old fashion Heterosexual promiscuity.
Abuse of religious and constitutional rights is daily practiced in this country upon those who are considered politically incorrect. I am come to speak in the unabridged freedom granted by Christ and Constitution. I am like Jesus, neither a friend to the Pharisees or Sadducees. We believe in Christ, the transformer of culture and will not seek a symbiotic relationship with this culture. I warn those politicians who corrupt the moral fiber of the nation and thereby polarized the country and diminished the value of personal faith through intimidation, racial separation, sexual immorality and political collectivism. This nation has become confused and estranged from the moral and biblical ethics that made it possible for our fore parents to establish the character of constitutional rights. This government has violated the constitution by seeking to grant rights needlessly to the Homosexual community. CAAP is saying don’t change nature and make society accept aberrant behavior.
America is sinning! Some Churches and clergy are now guilty of removing the radical imperatives of God from daily consideration. They have relaxed separation from sin by misreading of scripture, thereby changing the world view from God’s moral imperatives. Life is filled with contradictions. CAAP Defines religion as a set of principles and beliefs agreed upon by persons who adept and follow those principles. And, so CAAP will preach moral and traditional principles with an eye on winning the African American community totally to our perspective.
Both Democrats and Republicans need to understand the consequence of promoting gay and lesbians unions or same sex marriage. Heed the warning before it is too late! There is a black population in this country that could be moved for righteousness; to the sound of a moral voice. Our goal is not to demonize homosexuals but to seek humane solutions to their needs. However, CAAP has resolved to encounter those who seek to change nature; marriage from a man and woman to same sex, to listen to our moral concerns? We have come to Washington DC to find with whom we have a real and true relationship?
The Bible says in Ezekiel 3:18, “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” Failure to warn is something that Rev. Owens and CAAP cannot live with. We are here to preach. Our speech is moral but it will have political ramifications.
Bishop David Allen Hall