Evangelicals have been doing it for years. Jews and the "moral majority" have, too. Now, Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, former director of the Congressional Black Caucus, wants Black churches to also get involved in a big way in shaping politics and public policy.
By SARAYA WINTERSMITH
Special to Trice Edney News Wire from District Chronicles
WASHINGTON (TEWire) - Evangelicals have been doing it for years. Jews and the "moral majority" have, too. Now, Dr. Barbara Williams-Skinner, former director of the Congressional Black Caucus, wants Black churches to also get involved in a big way in shaping politics and public policy.
Two weeks ago at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in DC, Williams-Skinner stirred up members of the National Conference of Black Churches, entreating them to stop under-utilizing their political power.
“I've seen members of Congress go in and vote based on a meeting with four bishops on the outside,” said Skinner. “Where are our bishops?”
In early December, church leaders from across the nation converged on Washington for a conference, “For the Healing of our People,” to address issues affecting African-Americans and other underserved groups. It also provided training that engages clergy and lay leaders in public policy.
“There are a couple things that have to do with dealing with systemic issues around public policy priorities that we are missing,” she said to the Paladian Ballroom packed with bishops of the nine largest historically Black denominations.
Yesterday marked the first day of the “For the Healing of Our People,” the CNBCs First Annual National Consultation. Leaders from around the country gathered for a morning consultation sessions regarding the role of churches in public policy.
During an open discussion period, the founder of the annual Congressional Black Caucus Prayer Breakfast said that when religious leaders fail to show up in government offices to support public policy priorities they articulate, “members of Congress just see the Black church as votes,” a mere constituency group necessary for election into office.
Skinner says that the newly formed CNBC – whose mission is to serve as a unified voice of over 30 million Black church goers – should make Capitol Hill advocacy and Black voter mobilization two important priorities. Her imploring was met with resounding affirmation from CNBC members, listening intently as she preached.
According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, the national Black voter turn-out for 2010 mid-term elections increased only slightly from 2006 – about 2 percent. The increase, however, was not enough to stop the Democrats from losing 60 seats in the U.S. House, at least a dozen of which were in districts with a significant Black vote.
Skinner says that Black leaders, helping to mobilize Black voters, will ensure that their issues are being addressed.
“We could take 2012,” said Skinner. “We have the power. Let's use it.”