WaPo’s Missing Religious Voices

Based on the reporting of the Washington Post, apparently every religious person in the D.C. area opposes same-sex marriage and almost all of the religious voices are evangelical/Pentecostal African Americans.

You’d never know that D.C. is the home of National Cathedral of the Episcopal Church, two large Catholic universities, and prominent churches inside Mainline congregations, including well-known Methodist, Disciples of Christ, and Presbyterian churches.

Last month, we reported on a GLAAD study that talked about the overrepresentation of Evangelical voices involving LGBT issues and the lack of voices from Mainline protestant and moderate Catholic viewpoints.

The WaPo story tries to do some man-on-the-street (or on the phone) reactions to Obama’s announcement on same-sex marriage, but the Rolodexes at the WaPo seem to only include religious voices opposed to same-sex marriage.

“I’m sorry, I was tickled and proud to see a black president, but I can’t vote for a man who goes against God,” said McMillan, 66, who lives in the Logan Circle area of Northwest. “I don’t believe in skin color more than I believe in God’s word. This president must be part atheist or something.”

And a minster and professor at Howard University:

“I don’t know what he believes,” said Cheryl Sanders, a pastor at the Third Street Church of God in the District’s Mount Vernon neighborhood and a professor of Christian ethics at Howard University’s divinity school. “But it’s okay to change your mind . . . and my sense is that he will probably gain more votes than lose votes.”

Sanders opposes same-sex marriage but says the president’s stance isn’t likely to diminish his support from black voters, just as his support for abortion rights hasn’t chased away blacks who oppose abortion on religious grounds.

Someone who runs a Christian counseling group and is collecting signature to oppose Maryland’s new marriage law”

Unlike Fenton, McManus thinks Obama is on the wrong side of the issue.

McManus, who runs a Christian counseling group in Potomac, doesn’t think Obama acted out of conscience, but rather because he was “outed” when Vice President Biden made his support for same-sex marriage plain last weekend.

“This is a religious country,” McManus said.

Still, he said, views are changing and even churches are reluctant to take a strong stand. He’s been gathering signatures to put a referendum on the Maryland ballot this fall to overturn the new law allowing same-sex marriage, and of the 10 churches he called Wednesday to ask if he could put petitions in their lobbies, eight declined, for fear of alienating divided members, he said.

And then two more African Americans, citing religion for their opposition to same-sex marriage. First, a man on the street:

Although marriage wasn’t a factor for African Americans in Obama’s first campaign, it could be this time, said William Cabell, 49, of Upper Marlboro. Obama’s new stance “threw me for a curve. I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to support him now, because I don’t have the same belief.”

Cabell, a black Democrat, knows he will vote against same-sex marriage in Maryland’s referendum but can’t see casting another ballot for Obama.

“I’d love to be supportive to my president,” said Cabell, who works for the Montgomery County school system. “I have to be loyal to my God.”

And then an African American minister, also opposed to same-sex marriage:

The Rev. Nathaniel Thomas, pastor of Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church and a leader of the campaign against Maryland’s new marriage law, said Obama’s statement “took the wind out of me. His family image has been great for our community, and now he has allowed another agenda to cloud the great, positive image he created of the black family.”

And another man on the street:

Diana King, an 18-year-old Alexandrian who will vote for the first time this fall, disagrees intensely with Obama on the issue. “God didn’t make people like that,” she said. “He didn’t make two men to have babies together.”

For those of you counting, that’s six religious voices and none of them supportive of same-sex marriage. At least three of those voices are African American.  Every person identified by some racial indicator in the story is opposed to same-sex marriage.

How is that possible?  Did they lose the phone numbers to the National Cathedral, Foundry Methodist, various experts at Georgetown University? Did the call local ministers at churches with gay-affirming policies?

It’s not as though the WaPo doesn’t know that there are African American religious voices who support same-sex marriage because the paper has written about them.  Yet Thomas appears to be the “go-to” voice when they are looking for a comment.

There’s no question that one of the most interesting issues after the announcement was the reaction of African Americans in the D.C. area.  But the lack of diverse voices–both in terms of religion generally and inside the African American community–is a real concern.

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