Bishop Harry Jackson, the Religious Right’s favorite African American preacher, asked the mostly white participants at the Values Voter Summit to tone down their anti-Obama rhetoric. He knew they weren’t racists, he explained, but the fact that some people were sounding like racists made it even harder on him as a conservative trying to get other black clergy to join his anti-gay organizing in D.C.
While asking summit participants to be less offensive, Jackson’s Saturday afternoon speech may have actually reached some new personal lows of offensive rhetoric. Let’s review:
1) Gays and liberal Christians are enemies of God who deserve to be struck down. Jackson cited verses from Psalm 68 saying “let God arise, let his enemies be scattered….let the wicked perish at the presence of God.” He described God striking dead a person who wasn’t following instructions about how the Ark of the Covenant should be moved. Who are the wicked? Gays, certainly, but also “folk who are Christians in name only” but are just asking to be struck dead by God for not following His ways.
2) Jackson said repeatedly of people who don’t support his agenda that “there are people in our culture who are easily led.” Do you remember the outcry from the Religious Right when the Washington Post said the same thing about them? But nobody batted an eye when Jackson suggested that African Americans who don’t support him are “in an ideological plantation” and “easily led” to believe the worst “character assassination” about white conservative evangelicals. That’s why, he said, right-wing activists need to tone down their attacks on Obama. In the fight to keep same-sex couples from getting married, he said, he “can’t win if my own black brothers see me as a traitor.”
3) Jackson utterly ignored the existence of African American LGBT people and their leadership in the pro-equality movement in the District of Columbia. He portrayed the battle over marriage equality in DC as a battle pitting rich gay lawyers against black clergy and poor single mothers. Jackson’s litany was a perfect example of the race- and class-baiting he is using to rouse opposition to marriage equality in the District. “Many of our gay people,” he said, are professionals, disproportionately educated, make a lot of money, are living in DC’s fancy new condos. Jackson said a “K Street lawyer who decides to come out and call himself gay” cannot understand the plight of a single mother in Washington, DC raising two kids without a father. This seems to be from his new gays-vs-blacks talking points. Hey, Rev. Jackson, what about all the LGBT people in DC who aren’t rich lawyers, who are people of color, who are raising kids without the legal protections of marriage? Maybe he hasn’t spent enough time in his new hometown to meet any of them yet.
4) Jackson cited his father’s experiences of racism to credential himself for an attack the notion that the gay rights movement is a civil rights movement. “Their movement is a handful of privileged people,” he said, who are “intolerant of anybody with another idea” and who want to “oppress and suppress truth in the name of freedom.”
5) The tea party movement, on the other hand, “is a movement that God is in the background stirring up.”
Jackson, who borrowed a line from fellow Religious Right figure Rick Scarborough to say, “I’m not a Republican or a Democrat, I’m a Christocrat,” ended his speech by leading the crowd in chanting
“Let God arise and his enemies be scattered.”