The views and opinions expressed in Calibrate belong solely to Dorothy. They are not and do not necessarily reflect the opinion(s) or position(s) of the organization, board of directors and/or any other individual(s) or entity (ies) affiliated or unaffiliated with Christians in Public Service, Inc. 


 

The Ironies of Black and White Christians and Why We Vote Differently
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 3:59 PM

The Ironies of Black and White Christians and Why We Vote Differently

Tuesday, February 19, 2019 3:59 PM
Tuesday, February 19, 2019 3:59 PM


Without question, white evangelicals are a powerful force in American politics.

They have more influence on public policy and the presidency than at any point in modern history.

And well they should as 81% of white evangelicals voted for President Donald Trump and were the single most important factor in 2016 that led to Republicans capturing the White House and both Houses of Congress. 

Not only do white evangelicals have significant influence over public policy, but their economic and religious clout is undeniable.

They own and/or control all major Christian media outlets. They, by far, have the largest megachurches, multi-million dollar ministries, multi-million dollar budgets; and, oversee all major seminaries in America.

One would think given all the above, that white evangelicals would be more religious, attend church more often, read the Bible more often, pray more often, believe more firmly in heaven and hell; and, above all more than any other demographic, would absolutely believe that the Bible should be taken literally.

If you believe any of the above, according to the Pew Research Center, you would be wrong.

The most recent Pew Research Center Religious Landscape Study shows some surprising statistics when it comes to Christianity in America.

While white evangelicals may have the most political and economic clout, when it comes to categorical essentials of the faith, the study shows they fall behind the next demographic - black Christians, in practically every category. 


Among other things, according to the study, black Christians have a higher percentage of church attendance, pray more often, read the Bible more often and believe more strongly in the literal interpretation of scripture; more than any other demographic, including the vocal religious right.

Black Christians report in some instances being more conservative on issues that white evangelicals have made bank on. Yet, voting patterns do not reflect this.

They largely oppose abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage, yet vote for candidates that approve and sometimes run on the same.

When it comes to voting, they vote overwhelmingly Democratic, choosing liberal candidates who by and large don't share their religious views.

Why? Three words. Race. Socio-economic justice. 

Not only do white evangelicals have significant influence over public policy, but their economic and religious clout is undeniable.

Granted the conservative religious values expressed by a majority of blacks align with those of the religious right, yet the right wing barely gives and historically has not given black voters even a cursory nod. Nor their core concerns.

Thus, it is no surprise that blacks are not even an afterthought for the Republican Party, nor is the Republican Party any thought of most black Christians.

According to the study, blacks have convictions every bit as conservative; and in some cases, more conservative as those on the religious right. 

But as the late Paul Harvey would say, let’s look at the rest of the story.

The hardline between black Christian voters and white Christian voters became evident when 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain declared, “African Americans have been brainwashed into not being open-minded, not even considering a conservative point of view.” 

Herman Cain | Photo: Herman Cain Facebook

He was excoriated, vilified in mainstream and black media; and, caricatured as an Uncle Tom sellout by black Democratic leaders.

Among them, pastors and preachers whose mesmerizing influence over every aspect of black thought life, particularly as it relates to politics, not only are generational but legendary.

I am today neither a Republican or Democrat. But for decades, I was a rarity - a black conservative Republican in the great state of Texas.

Then seminary happened. Then I co-founded a Christian organization. And through all of this, my focus and heart gradually shifted from the political side of politics to the human and spiritual.

I have found I fit much better in the comfort of my own skin with an allegiance to God and not to a political party.

Thus this is not a pitch for or a rebuke of either party; nor a defense of black Tea Party conservatives such as Herman Cain.

However, Herman Cain was right.

What he said may have been harsher and with less finesse than the much-celebrated founder and father of Black History Month, Dr. Carter G. Woodson, but no less true.

Dr. Woodson in his seminal work, The Mis-Education of the Negro wrote, “If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do.”

And this largely is not only the state today of black voters, but we have witnessed the same for white evangelicals who supported and continue to support President Trump.

No matter what he does or says, he controls the narrative and thus controls their votes and unwavering support.

Blacks attend church more than any other group, are more likely to but less vocally will agree with conservatives on issues such as abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage. And, in the survey reported higher levels of conservative ideology across denominational lines.

However, one of the most striking observations of the study found the partisan leanings of blacks from every religious background was Democratic no matter the denomination. And, no matter the agreement with many white conservative issues. 

The study did not find this level of party loyalty to be so, to this degree, across denominational lines, among any other ethnic group.

While there is a myriad of interwoven reasons why this is true, it mainly has to do with race, social justice, economics and the “religion of race” in America. 

Black and white Christians vote their values. However, voting patterns reveal the priority of those values.

For white Christians, it's the rule of law and abortion. In fact, the only category in the Pew study where white Christians come out ahead of black Christians is "Belief in absolute standards of right or wrong" (whites - 36% blacks - 28%). Which harkens back to one of white evangelicals core values - the rule of law. 

It's not that black Christians don't vote their values. It's not that a good number of black Christians don't abhor abortion. 

Abortion is a choice. Having to worry if your son, husband or brother will be a victim of police brutality, if you will be discriminated against on the job; or, red-lined or denied equal opportunity of the American dream aren't.

These are necessities that are easily and historically have been afforded whites, not so for blacks, Christian or no. It's not a matter of belief for black Christians, but a matter of survival. So, they vote for candidates who will fight for across the board equality. And those are the more liberal candidates.

Moreover, because many Republican candidates dismiss blacks outright, Christians or no; side with those who have tainted racial history; and/or take hard stances against what blacks value most, black voters view the “R” standing not for Republican, but for racist.

And no matter the commonalities on a moral level, nothing short of a movement of God on hearts and minds is going to change that on the societal or relational level.

Even though the conservative religious values expressed by a majority of blacks align with those of the religious right, the right wing barely gives and historically has not given black voters even a cursory nod.

The whole Make America Great again slogan and movement are seen by many blacks as making America "white again," and once again the haven for whiteness such as it was in the 1950s.

Back to the time of Happy Days and Leave it to Beaver. A glorious time for whites - a horrific, hate-filled time for blacks when they couldn't even sit at a lunch counter or drink from the same water fountain as whites. Let alone be welcomed to worship with them.

This is the rest of the story.

White churches over decades and for generations may very well have nailed a “White Only” sign on the doorposts of their churches as the welcome mat for black Christians was rolled up at the door. 

Black Christians were not welcomed in white churches, so they had to build their own. They were not welcomed in schools, they had to build their own.

I personally believe if there is any generational curse on America it is there because of the cruelty of centuries of slavery, perpetual and systemic racism; and, the total disregard of the humanity, dignity, and worth of black people by those in positions of influence.

Agree or disagree, it is what it is.

The Republican Party and white evangelicals in the minds of the majority of black Christian voters are reflections of these long-held sentiments.

With few exceptions, there still are "white churches" and "black churches" and church segregation is still very much a reality.

It is my opinion that the church in America long ago lost its moral authority on the issues of race.

We can't correct that which by our actions we condone.

For example, as much as I love God, a graduate of one of the most conservative evangelical seminaries in the country and ministry organization leader, as a black woman, there are churches across America where none of that matters.

I and many like me still would not be welcomed.

That's just a fact.

In politics once something is politicized it becomes legitimized in the minds of voters.

The overt politicization of religion in the 1980s with the advent of the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition sealed the deal with white Christian voters but effectively sealed out black Christian voters.

Chuck Colson, known as Richard Nixon’s “hatchet man” while in prison for his role in Watergate, became a born-again Christian.

Chuch Colson | Photo: Prison Fellowship

Chuck would later remark that one of the worse things in evangelicalism was the politicization of the gospel in the ’80s.

He said, "One of the major things that led to my conversion was when I walked out of the White House I realized most of the problems I had worked on there were worse when I left power than when I had begun…Jesus forgave sin and fed the hungry.”

Herein lies the rub.

While black Americans have historically been church-goers because the church has since slavery, been the heartbeat of black communities, white churches made it clear that they were not welcomed.

Let's look again at the issue of abortion. While what happens to the child in the womb is the expressed most important value to white Christians, black Christians are concerned too with the continuum and quality of life from womb to tomb; and, how issues such as social injustice and inequality negatively impact life-long life.

White Christians have exhibited little to no interest in lifelong pro-life, social justice and socio-economic issues as their black counterparts. This is the disconnect.

What Chuck Colson finally realized is that God is a God of not just justice, but a God of righteousness and justice. A God that cares as much for the life of a homeless black poor adult in an alley as He does for the life of a helpless white baby in the womb.

This is tough stuff and not pleasant for me to write. But if the family of God can’t get it right no one can.

And for us to get it right, we must take the lead in breaking down black and white silos, and begin talking with, not yelling or pointing fingers at one another; so that we may better understand one another. Then and only then can we begin to love one another as was Jesus' command. 

Part of the problem today is that the church has lost its moral authority as many of its leaders have become deeply entrenched in one camp, with little desire to reach out beyond the tribe in discipleship and evangelism - which is what the church in large part should be about. But you can't make disciples of all if you are only interested in the few. 

White churches will more readily reach out as missionaries to blacks in Africa before reaching out to blacks in their own backyard. Not an indictment, truth.

Thus, the majority of black voters, including Christian black voters, will vote for a democratic agnostic or unbeliever before they will a white Republican Christian.

Blacks voted 95% for then-Senator Obama in 2008 and even after getting to know better his antithetical views on issues important to the Christian faith, voted 93% for him in 2012.


Even today, despite former President Obama’s unequivocal support of issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion and weak 
defense of Christians and Christianity, a majority of black Christians still support him and would vote again for him for president if he could seek a third term.

Why? Because the current President with support from his white evangelical base continues to show not just disrespect, but utter contempt at times toward people of color and their values. Even once referring to kneeling football players as "sons of bitches." Which in essence was calling the mothers of those young men bitches.

Not one public rebuke from any white evangelical pastor or preacher and the list of insults and name-calling is seemingly endless. Silence is consent.

Black Christians view that deafening silence as definite consent, yet white evangelicals continue their unwavering support oblivious to the collateral damage building against the faith and any hope of building relationships with black brothers and sisters.

In 2012 according to a report released by the U.S. Census Bureau, for the first time in the history of this country, blacks outvoted whites (66% v. 64.1%), 93% of which went to the Democratic candidate. 

Until the body of Christ, the church, the people of God, not the black church or the white church, but those who have been born again into His marvelous grace extended to all, until we get this thing right, America will continue its downward spiral.

Regardless if the vote is right or left, only the Gospel and not the government can make right that which for too long has gone so terribly wrong.

Tale of the Tape

Christians in the U.S.      70.6%

Unaffiliated                         22.8%   
Non-Christian Faiths         5.9%  

Believe in God with absolute certainty

White                                   61%
Black                                    83%

Importance of religion in one's life

White                                   49% very important
Black                                    75% very important

Attendance at religious services at least once a week

White                                     34%
Black                                      47%

Frequency of prayer, at least daily

White                                     52%
Black                                      73%

Frequency of participation in prayer groups at Least once a week

White                                     22%
Black                                      39%

Frequency of meditation at least once a week

White                                     36%
Black                                      52%

Frequency of feeling spiritual peace and well-being at least once a week

White                                    56%
Black                                     69%

Belief in absolute standards of right or wrong

White                                   36%
Black                                    28%

Frequency of reading the Bible at least once a week

White                                  32%
Black                                   54%

Belief in heaven

White                                  70%
Black                                   86%

Belief in hell

White                                  55%
Black                                   73%

The word of God should be taken literally

White                                  26%
Black                                   51%

Given all the above and the growing divisions in America, tribalism, racial tension and anger, it is incumbent upon us as Christ followers to lead the way. To be salt and light Jesus commanded us to be. The good news of the Gospel is the answer. Regardless of our race, culture, denomination or non-denomination, the church and faith leaders must find a way to put politics aside and bring back front and center, the word of God. It is time for us to lead.

This is my challenge to me. This is my prayer for us. 

“If you can control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do.” - Dr. Carter G. Woodson


Dorothy Burton's passion is encouraging and helping people develop their unique leadership abilities; to serve with passion, purpose, and vision. She is a popular speaker for various organizations and conferences across the country.
dburton@cipsinc.org or dorothy@calibratellc.org

The System Worked, It Was Our Leaders That Failed
Saturday, January 26, 2019 12:11 PM

The System Worked, It Was Our Leaders That Failed

Saturday, January 26, 2019 12:11 PM
Saturday, January 26, 2019 12:11 PM

Simple civics lesson. Not political. Just how the U.S. Government system works.

The three branches of Government are the Judicial (Federal and Supreme courts); the Executive (President and Cabinet); and, the Legislative (the two Houses of Congress, the House of Representatives - 435 members and the Senate - 100 members).

The branches were set up by the founders as a three-legged stool for balance and as an extra measure, they also created the electoral college.

The electoral college is not at all a "college" not even a place, but a process set up by the founders for electing the President to ensure a balance between small states and larger (what would become urban) states so that no one region of the country would always elect the President.

The electoral college remains a mystery to many. This is how it works.

It is 538 "electors" constituted every four years chosen by each party, apportioned according to the combined number of representatives and senators a state has in Congress.

Each state, no matter the size, has at least three electors because each state no matter how small has two senators and at least one representative in the House.

In the case of Texas, we have two senators and 36 representatives so we get 38 electors who cast votes for our state in the electoral college process.

California, on the other hand, since it is such a big state has 53 representatives in the House and 2 senators, so it gets 55 votes in the electoral college and on and on.

The magic number to win the presidency is 270 because it takes 270 of the 538 elector votes to win. That's why the "popular vote" will never win an election. This has become increasingly frustrating to many, hence the call by some leaders to do away with the electoral college.

Presidential politics is science, strategy, psychology and mathematics. Don't ever forget that.

It's just not about electing the best person. The person that gets elected is the one who understands these four factors and builds a team of really smart people who knows well how the game is played. You do know that politics is a game, right?

Since the urban states (coastal) trend more liberal, are the most populous and thus have the most electoral college votes, more conservative candidates go after the other electoral college votes in less urban areas (mid-America swing states) to make up ground they know is lost in the urban areas.

Every president's dream is to have both the House and Senate majority be of the same party to carry out the issues they deem most pressing.

President Trump had that for the first two years. Since The House of Representatives controls the purse strings (also strategically set up that way by the founders) but needs the approval of the Senate, if a President controls the purse strings and the votes, he can get whatever he wants. What he feels is most important to him and the party.

You do know that politics is a game, right?

If the wall had been that important and a matter of national emergency and urgency, all President Trump had to do was say the word and the House under the leadership of then-Speaker Paul Ryan and the Senate under the leadership of Mitch McConnell would have put it up for a vote, pushed it through and the wall could have been funded overnight without any help from Democrats.

They instead opted for what they deemed more pressing - corporate tax cuts and judicial appointments.

I can't and won't fault them for that, no one can. It's how the system works. Winner takes all. You win, you get to decide what you want to do, what you want to fund, de-fund or not fund.

The wall did not rise to the level of importance and urgency until it became apparent by shifting political winds that there would likely be an end to Republican rule in the House, thus negating easy passage of any wall funding.

In comes psychology and strategy. Do not believe that President Trump is too dumb for either or play him cheap. He may not be a mathematician but he is a master strategist and marketer.

Afterall, that's all Marketing is - psychology. The President uses it well and many Americans got played like a cheap fiddle.

So what am I saying? Hundreds of thousands of people were needlessly impacted and hurt.  America became more divided, angry and the country turned upside down for something that never should have been.

What we increasingly painfully witnessed over those 35 days falls squarely at the feet of the party and President that controlled it all and decided against funding the wall when it had the two most important things - purse strings and votes.

No fluff here. No political spin here. No party drama here. I belong to neither party.

It's how the system works and how the powers that be didn't work on behalf of the American people. 

The system worked. Too bad the leadership didn't. 


Dorothy Burton's passion is encouraging and helping people develop their unique leadership abilities; to serve with passion, purpose and vision. She is a popular speaker for various organizations and conferences across the country.
dburton@cipsinc.org 

It's Going to Take Leaders, Not Politicians...
Thursday, January 24, 2019 10:42 AM

It's Going to Take Leaders, Not Politicians...

Thursday, January 24, 2019 10:42 AM
Thursday, January 24, 2019 10:42 AM

The peer pressure among kids is nothing compared to the peer pressure among politicians.

Good policy is a result of mature leaders reaching across the divide to devise policy that benefits the whole, not enrich the few. The reason why we now find ourselves upside down in this country is because politicians now govern according to peer pressure rather than guided by good policy-making.

A new generation is not the end all be all because most of them it seems are coming into office with axes to grind or chips on their shoulders with something to prove, though they have proven very little.

Politicians are only concerned about the next election. Public servants are concerned about the next generation.

Good policy is a result of mature leaders reaching across the divide to devise policy that benefits the whole, not enrich the few.

When people who are in office are there to prove a point they will ultimately be proven wrong. But by then, the damage is done and we are left to pick up the pieces left by politicians who concerned themselves with enriching the few, sacrificing the well-being of the many on the altar of self-aggrandizing politics.

Only true leaders with moral fortitude, courage, steel wills and backs, not more politicians influenced by radio talking heads, CNN, FOX or MSNBC or their own sense of importance can lead us out of this present darkness.


Dorothy Burton's passion is encouraging and helping people develop their unique leadership abilities; to serve with passion, purpose and vision. She is a popular speaker for various organizations and conferences across the country.
dburton@cipsinc.org 

5 Things Every Public Official Should Consider Before Spending a Public Dime on Private Time
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 4:30 PM

5 Things Every Public Official Should Consider Before Spending a Public Dime on Private Time

Tuesday, January 22, 2019 4:30 PM
Tuesday, January 22, 2019 4:30 PM

Photo: City of Forest Hill, Texas

Michelle Obama likely has never heard of Forest Hill, Texas. I would wager that many residents in North Texas could neither tell you where this small city with a population of less than 13,000 is located; or, who the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem are (were)... until last week.

I won't name names here because my goal is not to shame but to teach some important truths. No matter if you are an elected or appointed leader in a city of millions or a town of hundreds, somebody is watching your every move and counting every dollar you spend, and where.

Such was the case for the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem of this small suburban city.

They each spent $545 for tickets to attend the Michelle Obama "Becoming" book tour when it rolled into nearby Dallas. Hey, if you have that kind of disposable income and it is something you want to spend your money on, no big deal.

What made this a big deal, however, was when they requested and received reimbursement from the city to cover the $1,091.92.

While it was perfectly okay for them to spend their own money (which they did), it was not at all okay to expect, request and receive reimbursement from city taxpayers - many of whom couldn't afford the same luxury.

Once attention was brought to this issue by a citizen who diligently keeps watch over the shoulders of city officials (we used to call them "watchdogs"), it set into motion a predictable, but sad reality. Ultimately both officials were forced to resign.

The Mayor said the expenses were perfectly within the guidelines of professional development because their attendance at the tour to hear the former First Lady, afforded them the opportunity to "get information and learn new things."

While commendable, the reimbursement for such is inexcusable.

The citizen pointed the finger at the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, the Mayor pointed the finger at the City Manager because after all, it was the City Manager that approved the reimbursement.

The City Manager works at the behest of the City Council. And if the two top ranked officials on the Council requested reimbursement, guess what any employee would have done? 

In addition to the book tour expense, other questionable expenses were discovered.

Rather than live through the ordeal of what would have surely been a vote to remove them by their colleagues on the Council, both opted to resign. The now former Mayor is seeking re-election this spring.

Had the Mayor not resigned, and the majority of the Council voted for removal, another run would not have been possible for three years. 

Smart political move on the back end. Poor decision-making of the front end.

Five take-aways every elected and appointed executive-level official can learn from this:

  1. You have enemies. You have permanent enemies. You have enemies who you would never guess are enemies. You have political rivals and citizen enemies who have made it their lifelong pursuit to take you down and take you out. Public service at the executive and elected level is war. You must serve with a kid glove on one hand and a boxing glove on the other. Always ready to deflect a direct hit. Your greatest deflection is the "common man rule." Always ask yourself when it comes to spending taxpayer money and how and where you spend taxpayer time and resources: Would the common man on the street understand it without explanation? If you must go into long explanations to justify, don’t do it!

  2. Have common sense. This may seem trite, but I am telling you I work with some brilliant idiots! It is one thing to be able to read a budget, but to be successful in this business, you have to have sense enough to read the tea leaves (i.e., the people and the times).

  3. Keep your ear to the ground but your nose out of the air. The rumbling you hear is the growing dissatisfaction and lack of patience of tax-paying citizens who perceive public servants as over-paid jerks. You’d better believe your every move is being watched and there always will be someone who can't wait to sound the alarm.

  4. If you would be ashamed if an expenditure or act were shown on the high def screen at your church during Sunday service; or, become viral on social media, think twice about spending that money, asking to be reimbursed or taking that junket. What you do with the money you make is your business. You make it the public’s business when you expect the public to pay for your private business. The resentment is strong because they know how much you make. And compared to what they make, it infuriates them to pay for you what they can't afford for themselves and families.. no matter it comes with the position. Don't flaunt it by bringing attention to it.

  5. Own up quickly to your mistake and be quick to offer an apology, never an excuse. That City Manager had nothing to do with those two officials attending that event. They made it about him when they put him in the awkward position of having to take some of the heat. If you are an elected leader, never, ever, ever blame staff for your mistake or faux paus. It makes you look small and oh so guilty.

Bottom line is this, other than a bonafide offficial expenditure, pay your own freight and pay your own way!

Serving in elected office is a privilege not a right; and one many dream of, but few will ever be able to do. 

Do the right thing and do right by those who pay your salary and afford you the privileges that come with your office or position.

There are no term limits on integrity.


Dorothy Burton's passion is encouraging and helping people develop their unique leadership abilities; to serve with passion, purpose and vision. She is a popular speaker for various organizations and conferences across the country.
dburton@cipsinc.org 

If You Make It God's Fight You Won't Have To Do Battle
Monday, January 7, 2019 7:08 AM

If You Make It God's Fight You Won't Have To Do Battle

Monday, January 7, 2019 7:08 AM
Monday, January 7, 2019 7:08 AM

When it comes to representing people God's way on issues and how to make the wisest and best decision:

  • consider all sides of the issue from all angles;
  • have no ulterior motives other than to make the right decision in the best interests of the whole;
  • take your thoughts and conclusions to God in prayer seeking His mind on the matter; and,
  • open the Bible and read. You will find clarity and discover things you hadn't seen or previously thought of. Brilliance is  revealed through the Bible. 

These steps are necessary before you open your mouth to offer an opinion and certainly to render a vote or decision.

After you have considered all sides from all angles; have no ulterior motives other than to make the right decision in the best interest of the whole; taken it to God in prayer; spent time in the Word; then, you're ready to do battle.

Know you will be attacked personally and your work and motives will be challenged publicly. That's just comfirmation that you are exactly where you should be and where God wants you to be.

Be still and be firm. Argue the point never make it personal with the opponent.

You don't need to strike back, back up or back down. Stand firm, even smile. Why? Because you have done what God requires in decision-making by first seeking Him. And the battle is now His. Do you know that when we go about our decision-making like this, that the battle becomes God's, not ours and He promises to fight for us!

As Christ followers we don't have to fight the world's way to win. We need only do it God's way. He promises to fight for us. God is not a man that He should lie nor son of a man that he should repent (Numbers 23:19). If He says it, bank on it.

"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still." - Exodus 14:14

It's how Nehemiah was able to rebuild the wall in record time in the face of ridicule and how Esther was able to save a nation. And it is how you will win. 

Get it right first with God and you need never have to worry about getting it wrong with people.

Leadership is one thing. Public servant leadership is a whole different animal. And life in the fishbowl is for warriors, not jelly fish.

For the next important decision you have to make; or, if your commission or council is deliberating a tough issue and grappling for an answer - do this and watch and see how God will work through you to work out the solution.