Representatives from two black Baptist denominations vowed Tuesday to forge their own paths apart from white liberals and conservatives as they seek to address the social and political issues they say are tearing the nation apart.
Members of the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PBNC) and the National Baptist Convention USA held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington to discuss the upcoming midterm elections and condemned the “politics of fear” they say has taken over this election season, Religious News Service reported.
Pastors argued that issues of race and spirituality shouldn’t be ignored as both parties prepare for voters to head to the polls next month.
“As the body of Christ, we do not serve as mere mascots of the liberal left … sent by patronizing paternalists to serve as the point on the head of their ideological spear,” a declaration released by PNBC President Timothy Stewart and Rev. Calvin Butts began.
It added, “Nor do we set horses with those of the religious right who hide their rampant racism and hysterical hypocrisy amidst the existential ruins of a morally and theologically bankrupt spirituality.”
Alabama’s Rev. Matthew V. Johnson Sr., who penned the declaration, chastised white liberals and conservatives for taking sides on polarizing issues such as abortion and LGBTQ rights while paying very little attention to race and racism.
Johnson, who’s also vice chair of the PNBC Social Justice Commission, noted at Tuesday’s news conference how Democrats and others protesting the confirmation of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh were “indifferent” about the nominee’s track record when it came to race issues. He said it’s just one example of the “problem we have with the liberal left.”
“It’s not just about Black special interests,” Johnson told Religious News Service. “This is an issue of justice.”
Pastors then took aim at clergy of the “religious right,” including Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham and Paula White, who Rev. Butts dubbed “heretics” and “hypocrites.” Earlier this year, Butts and other members of the PNBC spoke out against President Donald Trump‘s administration over policies they say are harmful to the poor and people of color.
However, the pastors didn’t place total blame on the president for the current racial division.
“The presidency of Donald Trump is not the cause of the American malady but a symptom, a consequence, an effect,” the declaration read. “Although, by the aid and abetting of the present administration, the sickness has received license and worsened.”
At the news conference, pastors said they hoped their declaration would help get out the vote.