It was quite a year, what's that? Is it still 2020? Trump is still in office? At least until January. In the meantime, many reflect on this long election and how black voters helped turn the tide of this election with its blue wave influenced by black voters. This week, we gain more insight into What We Don't Know About Black Church. We'll break down how religion intersects with politics with our guest, Pastor Micheal McBride.
The President-elect, Joe Biden, is set to be the 46th president of The United States, and the country remains divided after a gut-wrenching close race that Trump threatens to end with much resistance and lawsuits. Black voters came out in record numbers, which many believe is how cities like Atlanta and Philadelphia, with their highly African American population, determined that outcome. Still, many don't realize how many voters associate with black churches and how faith leaders galvanize communities of color.
Pastor Michael McBride, also known as Pastor Mike, has been active in the ministry for over 20 years and is well known for his community outreach. This Duke University alum and San Francisco native founded The Way Christian Center in Berkeley, and in 2012 he was the director of the Live Free campaign.
In 2016 Pastor Mike worked with the White House under the Obama administration as a faith-based advisory for gun control. It may seem strange to imagine a pastor assisting in policy, but political influence and religion have gone hand in hand for a long time. This crossover can sometimes be problematic, but leaders like Pastor Mike aim to build a bridge peacefully, with the primary goal of empowering and enlightening people for a better way of life. Throughout decades, Black neighborhoods are known for their high number of black churches, but why is that? And what is a "black church" anyway?
Take Me To Black Church
'Black Church' is the term that encompasses all American churches that are ministered primarily by African American congregations.
Black Church Denominations Today:
Watch this video about the history of Black Church
There is a good reason why black churches have heavily always been entwined with American black culture. It was one of the only places for refuge and hope for slaves. In 1790, the oldest black baptist church was formed by a slave, Peter Durrant in Kentucky.
Throughout the 1770s, white methodists began to give preacher licenses to black Americans. By the 1800s, "Negro churches," as they were called, were being formed by freed slaves leading to 15 black churches being established in 10 cities by 1810, and black communities began to form and gather for sermons. Black ministers spoke against slavery, prompting leaders like Frederick Douglas to challenge white Christians' complacency on slavery as the Civil War began to approach.
The combination of people's faith in god with their empathy for humanity played a crucial role in black history. The Underground Railroad was organized by black faith leaders in collaboration with white abolitionists.
Dr.Martin Luther King is one of the most famous names in the civil rights movement, but sometimes we forget his honorific is The Reverend. Dr. King was appointed spokesperson of the Montgomery Independent Association at 26 years old. He later formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to fight segregation and broke away from the more conservative black faith leaders that did not support protests. He then started the Progressive Baptists Convention. King's famous led march on Washington in response to the murder of Emmett Till consisted of rabbis, nuns, and preachers.
For decades prior and to follow, black communities used church spaces not only as a place of worship but to gather, rally, and empower.
Politics and religion can sometimes clash, as Obama found in 2008 when he had to respond to controversial remarks made by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Wright led sermons about black Americans' plight that included statements such as "God Damn America."
Watch Barack Obama: 'A More Perfect Union' (Full Speech)
What Is Pastor Mike Doing Today?
Pastor Mike is a very busy and influential figure. He works to educate and empower millennials who need support and guidance and work with racial justice and black liberation movements. Pastor Mike has spent years being active in many grassroots movements and uprisings such as Ferguson and the protests between far-right Trump-supporting conservatives and liberals in Berkeley in 2017.
He has been doing work to fight gun violence for years by campaigning and reducing gun-related homicides by 50%. He continues to grow his parish and community through social media and in-person outreach, but his main goal is to make a lasting change as he explains, "We're not trying to be famous, we're trying to be effective."
In October, Pastor Mike not only spoke out about the killing of Breonna Taylor, but he made it a point to speak directly to elected officials.
Click here to listen to Pastor Mike's full speech regarding Breonna Taylor.
Sociologist Jason Shelton tells Christianity Today, "It's less about politics in the electoral sense … and more of a sense of black folks seeing faith as a way to rectify and address issues of injustice. The separation of realms (faith and politics) is clear for white evangelicals much more than it is for African American Protestants, even though they have the same heightened religious sensibilities."
The country continues to trend towards a more defined separation of church and state and excludes religious leaders from politics. Still, black faith leaders remain pivotal in their social progression while issues and evangelicals also maintain a large hand in politics Today. The crossover will inevitably stay for quite some time.
Reverend Al Sharpton implored white people to back support for George Floyd. Later, the nation saw controversy in the ultraconservative religious appointment, Amy Conan Barret to the Supreme court. According to a Pew survey, 91% of black people consider religion significant compared to 75% of whites, so many black faith leaders still feel their representation is essential.
As we learned in our talk with Mondale Robinson, the black vote is necessary to politicians, and the black community can make the most change in this nation when their voices are heard.
"There are a lot of problematic candidates up and down the ballot.", Pastor Mike says, "Our job is to resist and hopefully at times elect some righteous candidates and try to make a political reality that frees us from violence and arbitrary death."
To learn more about Pastor Michael McBride, visit https://www.pastormikemcbride.com/about
Find out more about the Live Free campaign http://www.livefreeusa.org/
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