At a summit of black ministers held in Dallas this week, some participants decried the “bedroom morality” preached by some churches at the expense of social justice concerns. In The Washington Times, a Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, fired back, asserting that “Their agenda hurts the black community; the fact that these ministers are saying that gay marriage and abortion are not Christian issues makes it clear that they are not men of God.” The Times also quotes one Bishop Harry Jackson, who said, “There is a new black church that Al [Sharpton] and Jesse [Jackson] don’t speak to, and they are threatened by the new black megachurches and their pastors; and they tend to talk about us as if we are just uppity Negroes, asking ‘why can’t they just fall in line’?”
It may be helpful to know where Peterson and Jackson are coming from. Jackson has been a near-constant presence by the sides of Religious Right activists in pushing for right-wing judges and fighting against gay marriage. He spoke at both Justice Sunday and Justice Sunday II, televised church rallies organized by the leaders of the Religious Right to push for Bush’s judicial nominees, telling the audience, “You and I can bring the rule and reign of the Cross to America and we can change America on our watch, together.”
Gays are a particular target of his. In an article in Charisma magazine, Jackson wrote that the “wisdom behind” the “gay agenda” is “clearly satanic,” and he called for an aggressive “counterattack.”
Jackson’s six-point “Black Contract with America on Moral Values” is headed off with opposition to same-sex marriage, followed by school vouchers and Social Security privatization.
Peterson, a frequent spokesman on the Right who has an unhealthy obsession with Jesse Jackson, made headlines last September when he wrote that Hurricane Katrina’s victims were “immoral, welfare-pampered blacks that stayed behind and waited for the government to bail them out.” He continued,
About five years ago, in a debate before the National Association of Black Journalists, I stated that if whites were to just leave the United States and let blacks run the country, they would turn America into a ghetto within 10 years. The audience, shall we say, disagreed with me strongly. Now I have to disagree with me. I gave blacks too much credit. It took a mere three days for blacks to turn the Superdome and the convention center into ghettos, rampant with theft, rape and murder.
A few weeks later, he co-sponsored an event at the far-right Heritage Foundation to discuss the state of Black America, where he expanded on his opinion of Katrina evacuees: “I find that many of those people have lots of things. They have nice clothes to wear, they’re fat as a pig, they’re driving nice cars, big old color TVs. I think the reason many stayed there is because they lack moral character.” He criticized New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, saying that if you lived in the city, you were “out of your mind to wait on a Black Mayor to come help you.” And Rev. Peterson added that no Democrats were Christians: “You’re not born of God if you’re a Democrat… A real Christian can’t vote for a Democrat, the Democratic Party.”