During election time, black churches traditionally welcome opposing candidates to address their congregations so voters can select the best person for the position. For example, both Dave Bing and Ken Cockrel made the Sunday morning rounds during Detroit's last mayoral election to espouse their political platforms from pulpits across the city.
Likewise, in 2005, mayoral candidates Freeman Hendrix and Kwame Kilpatrick were graciously welcomed into Detroit's churches.
But this time around, some pastors are using a "bully pulpit" to deprive voters of the chance to hear each candidate present his vision for how to lead the city of Detroit for the next four years.
Sadly, the reason is race.
Black churches are welcoming African-American candidate Benny Napoleon with open arms, while in many cases, white mayoral hopeful Mike Duggan is being left out in the cold.
I know this because I personally phoned 106 pastors across Metro Detroit, asking them to please allow Mike Duggan to speak to parishioners on a Sunday morning before election day.
Forty percent -- almost half -- of these ministers respectfully declined, admitting that they were inviting only Benny Napoleon to address their congregations.
"Are you crazy?" one pastor demanded. "I'm for Benny and I'm not going to have Mike Duggan in front of my congregation."
I was very disturbed by this. It is wrong for ministers to deny the white candidate the chance to address their congregations. (Ironically, 19 percent of those pastors live in suburbs that have white mayors).
This is hypocritical. It reeks of voter suppression.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said we should judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
But black preachers in Metro Detroit are doing exactly that. They are doing a tremendous disservice to their followers and the democratic process.
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SOURCE: The Detroit News
The Rev. Jim Holley is pastor of Detroit's historic Little Rock Baptist Church.