By Sonia M. Jackson
When President Barack Obama said he was for gay marriage and used the Bible to back it up, mainstream media braced itself for the backlash from the black church and its leaders. But their fear was unfounded, as more people of faith and color jumped on the same-sex marriage bandwagon, tucking their beliefs against gay marriage away.
The popularity of the president worldwide is undeniable. An Associated Press report republished by CBS News shows that the most-followed world leader's account on Twitter is @BarackObama, which is run by the Obama campaign and has 17.8 million followers. A May 9 tweet sent by the campaign team quoting Obama as saying "same-sex couples should be able to get married" is the most re-tweeted to date - more than 62,000 times.
But his reach and influence extends far beyond social networking and into the real world. Pew Research is showing an uptick in the number of blacks, once the most resistant group, now supporting gay marriage in increasing numbers. This has been happening over a period of time, though Obama’s endorsement of it has expedited this shift.
In the 2003 and 2004 Pew surveys, a combined 32 percent of African-Americans aged 18-29 supported gay marriage; that rose to a 51 percent majority in the 2011 and 2012 surveys. Among older blacks, the increase is more modest, but still apparent. Support for gay marriage rose over that period from 22 percent to 34 percent for African-Americans aged 30-49 and from 16 percent to 28 percent among blacks 50 and older.
And when it comes to the gay marriage debate, many of today’s most influential black Christian leaders, have been publicly silent on the issue. Even the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP), a group that protests the NAACP’s endorsement of gay marriage as a civil right, is slow gaining support for their “Commitment to Traditional Marriage Pledge.”
Why aren’t there more outspoken voices against gay marriage in the black church? Is it that the leaders fear backlash along the lines that Chick-fil-A’s Christian President, Dan Cathy, is receiving? Is there a desire among the black Christian elite to remain neutral, thus securing their economic stability, and gargantuan numbers of ministry followers—both gay and straight?
In a recent blog post, popular Christian fiction author, Kim Cash Tate, wrote:
So let’s be clear about where we are—simply saying you’re for biblical marriage will earn the label that you’re hateful. I’m burdened by this. I’m burdened that our President embraced same-sex marriage, and even used the Bible as support. I’m burdened as I see pastors publicly downplay marriage as God intended. And I’m burdened by what this all means for the body of Christ.
Are you burdened too?
Do you believe it is a necessity for more Believers to be vocal about their views on same-sex marriage? Why aren’t more leaders outspoken about it? Has your pastor discussed it from the pulpit?