25 Black Church Leaders Concerned About Hillary Clinton's Positions on Abortion, Religious Freedom

Hillary Clinton
U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton listens to Vice President Al Gore talk about climate change at a rally at Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida, October 11, 2016. |

A group of 25 African-American religious leaders and activists, made up largely of Democrats, has sent a letter to Hillary Clinton expressing frustration and concern over her staunch support of the abortion industry and the LGBT community's quest to restrict religious liberty.

The letter, which was shared with The Christian Post and delivered to the Clinton campaign headquarters in Brooklyn on Monday, requests that the Democratic presidential nominee meet with a number of black church leaders to explain how her administration would address their concerns. The letter comes as polls show Clinton dominating Republican Donald Trump when it comes to support from the African-American community.

Along with abortion and religious freedom, the concerns highlighted in the letter include education, employment opportunities in black communities and the killing of unarmed black men by police officers.

Assuming that Clinton beats Trump in the Nov. 8 election, the letter asks that she provide a place and time during her first 100 days in office to meet with the black religious leaders.

"The black church has, since the time of slavery and right through to the Civil Rights Movement, taken this charge from Jesus Christ as our political mandate. As servants to the poorest of the poor; we are particularly eager to hear how as president you would address our concerns," the letter states. "We are confident that you, a highly experienced and very savvy candidate, know full well the importance of the black vote in this election cycle. We know that you will not make the political mistake of taking the 69,000 black churches in the US for granted."

The letter is spearheaded by Jacqueline C. Rivers, the executive director of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies in Boston, and Bishop Frank M. Reid III, the chair of the social justice committee for the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The letter was also signed by Bishop Charles E. Blake, the presiding bishop of the Church of God in Christ.

In addressing abortion, the letter is frank in stating that the signatories are "very concerned" by Clinton's position on the matter. Clinton opposes late-term abortion bans and is in favor of giving Planned Parenthood even more federal tax dollars every year. In fact, she is the first presidential candidate that Planned Parenthood has ever endorsed during the primary elections.

The letter states that the black church is committed to defending the unborn and cites Clinton's remarks from her speech at the National Organization of Women in April 2015, when she stated "that deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases" opposing abortion rights "have to be changed."

"For political leaders to call for changes in citizens' beliefs is reminiscent of totalitarianism. In our view, such a proposal constitutes a denial of our religious freedom," the letter explains. "The vast majority of black churches hold biblical teaching, which is eternal, as authoritative for doctrine and practice. Abortion is the deliberate destruction of a human life in its most vulnerable state."

"Biblical principle and natural law, both of which prohibit the taking of innocent human life, compel our concern about the increasing moral complicity with abortion," the letter continues. "For the same reasons that we as black Christian leaders oppose racism, unjust wars, capital punishment and euthanasia, we oppose the violent denial of life to the unborn through abortion. It is our view that human life is a gift of God that we are called upon to protect, nurture and sustain, because we are created in God's image. Therefore, our opposition to abortion is a logical outgrowth of our view that there must be justice for all. Particularly relevant is the innocence of the unborn child."

The letter also states that abortion has a "catastrophic impact" on the black community, stating that African-Americans account for about 38 percent of all abortions in the country even though they only represent 13 percent of the total American population. The letter points out the situation in New York City, where in 2013, there were more African-American women aborting their babies than giving birth.

"In 2008, Secretary Clinton, you took the position that abortion should be rare, and you emphasized 'by rare, I mean rare.' But Black babies are dying at terrifying rates. How do you justify your unconscionable silence in the face of such destruction of innocent black life?" the letter asks. "Don't black lives matter? What policies would you pursue as president to reverse the soaring abortion rates among black women?"

The letter also explains that religious freedom is a right that the the black church must defend "vigorously."

The letter detests the claim being made by liberal activists and politicians that religious freedom laws designed to protect individual's rights to act in accordance with their biblical convictions on marriage and sexuality are tantamount to historic Jim Crow laws that were used to allow for the discrimination against African-Americans.

"A well-financed war is now being waged by the gay and lesbian community in the US and abroad on the faith of our ancestors," the letter states. "Furthermore, there are some in your party who seek to criminalize our biblical texts as hate speech. Like Martin Luther King, Jr., we do not invite conflict. However, in cases where questions of conscience and religious freedom are at stake, we are prepared, for the sake of the gospel, to suffer the consequences of standing on our convictions."

Rev. Jamal Bryant
Rev. Jamal Bryant speaks to attendees during a rally protesting the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in Miami, Florida, April 1, 2012. |

Arguably the most notable signatory is Jamal Bryant, lead pastor of Empowerment Temple AME Church in Baltimore who was heavily involved in the Baltimore protests in 2015 after the death of unarmed African-American Freddie Gray in police custody. He was also a co-host on the talk show "Preachers."

"Time and again over the last four decades, a few police officers appear to have acted on their implicit racism with lethal results. Unarmed black people, overwhelmingly black men, have been killed by police officers in communities all across the nation," the letter explains. "Perhaps most bitter is the fact that in many cases the use of lethal force and police brutality against black men, and some black women, has been carried out with impunity."

The Christian Post reached out to Rivers and Reid for additional comment but no response was received before press time.

According to the Real Clear Politics average of presidential polling, Clinton is blowing away Trump when it comes to the support of African Americans. According to the average, Clinton has 82.4 percent of the black vote, while Trump has just 5.4 percent.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith Follow Samuel Smith on Facebook: SamuelSmithCP

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