Big Claims

Can 100 Pastors Really Start a Gay Marriage Armageddon in D.C.?

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Leave it to hateful religious types to throw around the word “Armageddon” with such aplomb. After the Washington D.C. City Council approved recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages in the district earlier this month (with the support of Mayor Adrian Fenty), anti-gay marriage demonstrators were supposed to show up in front of the Council’s building to protest. But it didn’t happen. Not to fret, assured Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Ohio: It’s coming. And it did, supposedly, today at 10am! Jackson said 100 pastors and 1,000 church members will show to argue the unanimous support for the measure is anti-D.C. And, uh, anti-black? Reports Marc Fisher:

“There’s a sense that the latte-drinking crowd is doing an end run around the regular people,” Jackson told me. “It’s a race and a class struggle on this. If 51 percent of the people in D.C. are African American and you have a unanimous vote by the city council on this, somebody’s not listening to the people.”

Jackson says that although his church is located in Maryland, he lives in the District and expects a large portion of those at the rally to be D.C. residents. But he says he’s not the least bit reluctant to recruit out-of-town supporters to put pressure on the city’s politicians.

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And who’s the blame? (You know who.)

Jackson says it’s the media’s fault that the anti-gay marriage message is seen in some quarters as antithetical to civil rights. “The black ministers are irate that they are being shut out,” he says. “They feel like nobody’s listening to them.” Washingtonpost.com ran a commentary by Jackson on the marriage issue last week. But council members are mostly dismissive of the ministers who are organizing the rally, saying that most of the members the pastors represent live in Maryland, not the District.

So who is this Jackson guy anyway?

Jackson is a fiery preacher with strong ties to white evangelical organizations. A frequent speaker on behalf of conservative social causes, Jackson says D.C. Council members who think that both whites and blacks see same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue are wrong. The real division, the minister says, is between those who take their faith seriously and those who are deeply misguided.

“The divide has to do with the intensity of one’s faith commitment,” he says. “Those who are less informed scripturally are floating down the same direction as many in the culture.”

Well, good luck to you, Mr. Jackson. We hope your protest went off swimmingly. But having established that steps toward full equality is the direction we should be heading, the D.C. Council has better things to do than listen to your Bible thumping.