Faith-Based Bribery

The fears of those who predicted that billions of dollars in faith-based subsidies distributed by the Bush Administration to churches across the country would build a Republican patronage machine in white constituencies, and severely blunt the prophetic edge of the Black Church, may be coming to pass. Where once Black pastors were among the few who could speak truth to power with little fear of economic retaliation, many may now have ministries with governmental funding streams to worry about, while the least principled among them have been emboldened to ape the talking points and political interventions of white right wing ministers. In the current context, given the flood of corporate money available to pliant African American politicians, and the lack of local news coverage that might facilitate their being held accountable, the interventions of the Black Church into politics only threaten to take those politics further and further away from the desires of African American constituencies.

Bruce Dixon, Black Agenda Report, Wednesday, 16 January 2008

The Rev. Herbert H. Lusk II is a maverick black minister who took to his pulpit in Philadelphia in 2000 and pledged his support for a Bush presidency, a speech broadcast live at the Republican National Convention. Two years later, Mr. Lusk was criticized when he received a $1 million grant through the president’s new religion-based initiative to run a housing program for the poor.

This Sunday, Mr. Lusk has offered his church in Philadelphia as the site for a major political rally intended to whip up support for the president’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., whose confirmation hearings begin on Monday. […]

Mr. Lusk said he agreed to be the host of the event at his Greater Exodus Baptist Church more out of loyalty to Mr. Bush – “a friend of mine” – than out of support for Judge Alito.

“I don’t know enough about him to say I actually think he’s the right man to do the job,” Mr. Lusk said in a telephone interview on Wednesday about Judge Alito. “I’m saying I trust a friend of mine who promised me that he would appoint people to the justice system that would be attentive to the needs I care about” – stopping same-sex marriage, assisted suicide and abortions for minors, and supporting prayer and Christmas celebrations in schools.

Meet Herb Lusk, Steve Benen, January 5, 2006

No one likes a curmudgeon. And there ought to be a lot to celebrate with a woman and an African American doing so well. Perhaps the news is never quite as good as it seems. Maybe the worst news is the way Bush and his cronies have tried to drive a wedge into the progressive African American community through its funding of so-called faith based initiatives. We can only hope that whoever is elected realizes that their constituencies are not identical with their corporate sponsors.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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