Clinton, Republicans Snubbed by Influential African American Church

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (photo credit: State Chancellery of Latvia via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (photo credit: State Chancellery of Latvia via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Church of God in Christ, a historically African American church comprising over 12,000 churches in the United States, has reportedly turned down multiple speaking requests by the Hillary Clinton campaign to speak at their St. Louis convention in November, Breitbart reports:

Whether to allow Clinton to speak publicly to the congregation was discussed among Church leaders on three separate occasions – including a recent request to speak at its annual international convocation in November, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

This year’s convention will be held in St. Louis and expects to host 40,000 attendees as well as many influential speakers and musical artists.

Previously, Clinton representatives asked permission for her to speak publicly at the congregation meeting of bishops and at a women’s convention, according to the source who was familiar with the conversations.

The reason for the snub, according to a pastor and advisor to the COGIC, presiding Bishop Eugene F. Rivers III, is that the church is tired of being taken for granted, as well as Clinton’s opposing views on abortion and gay marriage:

“There is the perception among the political actors from both parties that the black church are useful idiots who will be called upon at the last minute to function as ground troops, but there is no respect apparently on either side of the aisle for the moral perspectives of the black church,” he said.

He cited Clinton’s remarks about religious organizations changing their beliefs on abortion as one example of concerning comments from Obama’s former Secretary of State.

The COGIC leadership was comfortable working with Barack Obama during his first run for president, because he was cautious about approaching delicate issues like gay marriage and abortion in 2008.

Before Republicans start patting themselves on the back, they should note that Rivers had some harsh words for them, too, mainly in the areas of social justice:

“Republicans have no interest in social justice for the poor and Democrats don’t believe that the unborn have rights and refuse to respect our beliefs on our understanding on marriage,” Rivers explained.

The snubs from COGIC make it clear that the church is tired of candidates thinking they can count on a congregation’s vote without addressing all the issues that matter to them.  As with Pope Francis’ recent visit to the U.S., Republicans and Democrats are waking up to the reality that churches rarely fall along party lines.  Both parties are going to have to do some soul searching if they want to appeal to parishioners in the future.

Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles In Action.