Black pastors in the South say comparing the push for homosexual ‘marriage’ to the civil rights movement is offensive and destructive
The Charlotte World - CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Rev. Charles Reese, a Charlotte, N.C., pastor, remembers what it was like to be a young black man in the segregated South during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. By many accounts, it wasn’t pleasant.
Reese remembers going to a segregated school, sitting on the back of the bus, and not being allowed into many restaurants and stores in his hometown of Dallas, Texas. In fact, he says, downtown Dallas was so segregated in those days most black people didn’t bother going there at all.
But Reese’s recollection of the South in the 1960s goes beyond the injustices of segregation. He also remembers the violence. Reese’s childhood memories include police coming into his neighborhood to arrest, brutalize – and even kill – black men without cause. He says many of the men the police took away never returned to their homes.
When Reese moved to Charlotte – the largest city in North Carolina – several years ago, he says he was on the “cutting edge of the civil rights movement.” Today he is the president of the city’s chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization devoted to equality and civil rights.
Reese’s personal dedication to civil rights was born out of a lifetime of struggling – and suffering – to achieve those rights for himself and other people of color. It’s a dedication rooted in the biblical principle of the equality of all races and nations before God.
So it is not surprising that Reese would be troubled – and offended – when some groups attempt to illegitimately twist the idea of civil rights for their own perverse purposes. And according to Reese – as well as several other black pastors in the heart of the South – that is exactly what homosexual activists are doing when they claim homosexual “marriage” is a “civil right.”
Justifying an immoral cause
The idea is not new. Homosexual activists have been asserting their “right” to be married for decades. But the push toward homosexual “marriage” has gained alarming momentum in recent months. The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ordered its state to begin issuing marriage licenses to homosexual couples in May. And over 3,000 homosexual couples in San Francisco were recently issued marriage licenses – in defiance of state law – by Gavin Newsome, a young mayor claiming an act of “civil disobedience.”
But a growing number of African Americans appear to resent the comparison of homosexuality and race. In Massachusetts last month, the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston, a group of African American ministers, refuted homosexuals’ attempts to frame the issue of homosexual “marriage” as the next “civil rights movement” in America. The group signed a statement asserting that “homosexual ‘marriage’ is not a civil right.”
Many black pastors in Charlotte agree. They say homosexuality is wrong. They say homosexuals should not compare a behavior one chooses to a color one is born with. And they say that comparing the homosexual agenda to the civil rights movement is offensive and destructive.
Reese, pastor of Faith Liberation Community Christian Church, says homosexuality is a direct violation of God’s Word. “I do not and cannot under-gird same-sex marriage or the homosexual lifestyle because it is antithetical to the biblical message and undermines the society that the Judeo-Christian community has always uplifted,” he says.
And as a Christian – and a civil rights activist – Reese says he is disturbed when homosexuals compare their attempts to legalize immoral behavior to African Americans’ struggle for equality. “I do take offense at that particular community paralleling its movement with the civil rights movement in America,” he says, “because they are trying to put a moral issue over against a human issue. And they really are two completely different entities.”
Rev. Phil Davis, who has pastored Nations Ford Community Church in Charlotte for 15 years, also says homosexuality is wrong, and takes serious offense at the civil rights comparison. In fact, he says comparing the homosexual movement to the civil rights movement is an “atrocity.”
“That line of reasoning denigrates and throws dirt on the blood of blacks who have suffered through slavery, Jim Crow and bigotry, and have died because of the color of their skin,” Davis says. “That the homosexual radical agenda would use the blood of our ancestors to justify their immoral cause and bring guilt and manipulation upon others is an atrocity.”
Destructive guilt tactics
According to Reese, bringing guilt and manipulation on others is exactly what homosexuals are trying to do by claiming their agenda is a civil rights issue. “Though American culture has certainly not completely embraced the civil rights movement, there is a great deal of respect for it,” he says. “So what better way, what more convenient vehicle to advance the homosexual agenda than civil rights?”
Rev. Ronnie Wallace, a retired African American pastor who was born and raised in the South, agrees that homosexuals’ use of civil-rights-language is insidious. “Anyone can look at what was happening during the civil rights movement – the brutality that men were willing to inflict on other men because of their color – anyone can look at that and see that it was wrong,” he says. And it’s that sentiment, according to Wallace, which homosexuals are trying to align themselves with.
But Wallace says that’s an impossible alignment. He says homosexuals can’t legitimately compare their agenda to the civil rights movement because homosexuality is a behavior one chooses while race is a color one is born with. “I am black,” Wallace says. “I was born black. And I can get up and declare that I’m not black, but it won’t make one bit of difference.” Homosexuals, on the other hand, consciously choose their lifestyle, he says. “And to make this a civil rights issue is trying to say that this is something they cannot control, and that’s not true.”
Black pastors say the comparison of homosexual “rights” to civil rights is not only offensive. According to Davis, it’s also destructive.
“I recognize that what many of us have as African Americans is due to the fact that our fore-parents suffered,” Davis says. “Saying homosexuality is a civil right undercuts the legitimacy of our discussion about racism, segregation, true discrimination, and all that our ancestors have gone through to get to this point.”
Hope for the sinner
And though Davis finds much of the current dialogue about homosexuality offensive and destructive, he emphasizes his desire to reach out to those in the homosexual community. “I am not against the people caught up in the lifestyle of homosexuality,” he says. “I would welcome them and tell them they can come out of this lifestyle just like they can come out of any other sin. They can come out of it with the help of the Holy Spirit and the power of God.”