MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

October 10, 2012

Area black pastors view voting as vital

They strongly oppose advice to sit out election

— A recent report of black pastors urging their congregations to stay home on Election Day incensed local ministers who equate the message with something akin to heresy.

An article written by The Associated Press and published in newspapers across the nation — including the Phoenix — cited black pastors purportedly concerned about voting for either major-party presidential candidate. The perceived problem stems from the Democratic nominee’s support for same-sex marriage and the Republican nominee’s membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Rev. Rodger Cutler, the pastor of St. Mark Baptist Church, said there are “greater things at stake” than gay marriages and Mormonism. Regardless of who is elected president this year, Cutler said, the president must represent all Americans and should do so without regard to religion, sexual orientation, national origin or other factors.

“For us to coerce our people not to vote would be wrong,” Cutler said, recalling “Bloody Sunday,” when police officers armed with billy clubs and tear gas attacked 600 civil rights workers marching for minority voting rights on March 7, 1965, in Selma, Ala. “Every chance we get, we must exercise our rights to vote.”

Cutler was joined by the Revs. Larry Smith of Macedonia Baptist Church and Marlon Coleman of Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in his criticism of the pastors who urged their congregations to sit out the presidential election.

Smith said the importance of voting is a message he has shared with his congregation since the AP article was published. Sitting out of the process, he said, would “be a disgrace to all those people” who fought for equal voting rights.

Coleman said the position he shares with his colleagues promotes participation in the political process. He and other black pastors are working this week to register new voters before Friday’s deadline and inform them about voter identification laws. The registration drive is being sponsored by the religious affairs division of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Coleman said the Voting Rights Act of 1965 must be commemorated by taking part in the electoral process. The legislation was introduced before a joint session of Congress by President Lyndon B. Johnson eight days after Bloody Sunday and signed into law five months later.

“Not voting puts us 47 years closer to the return of Jim Crow, it puts us 47 years closer to the return of poll taxes, and it puts us 47 years closer to the literacy tests that kept our people from voting,” Coleman said. “Our position is people should register, go vote and participate in the process.”

The voter registration drive will continue today and Friday. Qualified individuals may register to vote from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Mark Baptist Church, 1020 S. Second St., and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Center, 627 N. Third St.

Election officials also are urging voters to confirm that their registered addresses are current and substantially match the address on the identification card they plan to present at the polling place. Voters have until 5 p.m. Oct. 31 to request a mail-in absentee ballot.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

If you go

WHAT: NAACP voter registration drive.

WHO: Qualified individuals may register to vote.

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Friday at St. Mark Baptist Church, 1020 S. Second St., and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Friday at the Martin Luther King Center, 627 N. Third St., Muskogee.

1
Text Only
Local News
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Poll

Should a federal judge have the power to strike down Oklahoma's ban on gay marriage?

Yes
No
     View Results
Featured Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Stocks