It’s been 42 years since Roe vs. Wade made abortions a legal procedure in the United States and conservative politicians with their eyes on the White House are still using anti-abortion rhetoric as part of their campaign messages.
At the same time, a push toward defunding Planned Parenthood has taken prominence in Congress as GOP lawmakers paint the organization as the last bastion of abortion clinics.
Embattle Kentucky county clerk, who had been jailed for denying marriage licenses due to her opposition to same-sex marriage, recently switched her political affiliation from Democrat to Republican. She also says Pope Francis even made time for her while he was here.
So how does any of this connect to Black America? In a word: religion.
The fervor of creating or shifting laws under the pretense of conservative Christian ideals is a concern of every American. This is not just a concern of white America, but rather it speaks to the strong foothold the conservative Christian movement has in the Black community, often hidden in church basements and barbershops, occasionally peeking out in the rhetoric of respectability politics and Steve Harvey.
The ultra-conservative stance is not just a thing of the older generations or Republican politicians, it is cross generational through the other side of “Black Twitter” and Facebook statuses.
Davis, an elected county official, defied the Supreme Court ruling she painted herself in the light of Rosa Parks. As videos of Davis speaking to the public were shared by my liberal peers, there was also the quiet murmuring of my peers who agree with her.
Before we made it to Davis taking it upon herself to usurp a federal law, despite the Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage is a constitutional, that murmur was bit less hushed, as folks veiled their disdain under the guise of concern for their church’s rights.
This is not a critique of whether same-sex relationships are Christian, as folks are entitled to their personal beliefs. But this is a critique on the use of their beliefs to assert politics over a diverse nation and how one’s theology can be used to manipulate them.
There is the Black auntie, uncle, or cousin who votes on an (often GOP-backed) law that removes the rights of same-sex couples because it’s been twisted to imply that there is a threat against how churches function.
There is the belief that Planned Parenthood should be defunded, removing the last bit of access to preventive care for women in poor neighborhoods, because your personal belief tells you abortions are a sin.
With that, the conservative movement has honed in on one slice of your faith to take control of your body. As we exist in a world were 140 characters can make a dead Black body see a resurgence of life heralding a call for change in a national system, sometimes the dialogue that can pull our Black conservative Christians out from whispering in the back room is lost, as we pack a direct and aggressive punch in our words.
And some do hold conservative ideologies without identifying themselves as conservative, so it’s not a fight over one’s personal faith, it’s a the start of a discussion that highlights how the political spectrum will use your own faith against you.
Marriage in the United States, is a legal deal overseen by state and county government officials, not an institution that will shut down your church or change anything that happens within your own household. Marriage allows access to certain legal, social and financial accommodations in this country, such as health care and taxes.
When you look at Mississippi and Louisiana, two of the poorest states in America, their politics are steeped in a conservative Christian front that keeps a steady pipeline of young Black males going from secondary school to jail and over 37% of Blacks living in poverty.
It removes preventive care for rural women and allows governors to justify not opting into the federal provisions for Medicaid expansion that would allow the working-poor better access to health insurance. Not to mention laws that mask shutting down services that often most benefit the poor as they pray on religious conviction.
We want to encourage all to remember that this country’s foundation as a secular state that maintains a separation of church and state is what has allowed us to continually fight for our own civil rights in this country, don’t allow the facade of faith to take those rights away from yourself or your non-religious neighbor.
This play on conservative ideology allows the GOP to create dubious propaganda that taps into the God-fearing heart while further disenfranchising the body.