Are Religious Right Leaders Telling Bob Vander Plaats to Go to Hell?

Bishop Harry Jackson, the Maryland pastor whose opposition to Washington DC’s gay marriage law made national headlines, says that Bob Vander Plaats’ marriage pledge is “unnecessary” and “rambling” and “attempts to bring together far too many issues.”

That from the co-author of a book, Personal Faith, Public Policy, which brings together “7 urgent issues that we, as people of faith, must come together and solve,” issues as wide-ranging as abortion, immigration, global warming, and “rebuilding the family.” And trust me, I’ve seen Jackson address a crowd many times, and he knows a few things about rambling.

Jackson appears, with God’s blessing, to be supporting Herman Cain, who, like all the GOP candidates save Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, did not sign Vander Plaats’ pledge. Jackson, who is black, told the Christian Post that he was disappointed the pledge addressed only statistics about black families, and that it should have been “vetted by minority groups such as his International Communion of Evangelical Churches.” The ICEC was recently launched by Jackson because, according to its website, “Christianity is not just a bunch of grey-haired repressed white men that hate everything.”

Jackson tries to portray himself as outside of the Christian right (the ICEC website charges that the “‘Christian-Right,’ on one hand, has focused on personal, moral, or righteousness issues while dismissing issues regarding biblical justice”). But he is a product of it, sought out by white leaders who helped promote his rise to prominence to make the movement appear more racially diverse. Jackson, in turn, has framed the religious right agenda on LGBT and reproductive rights issues in racial terms; he has described abortion as black “genocide,” and has complained that “gay activists enjoy better education, better jobs, better housing, greater access to the system, and now – legislative power. Something is wrong when the privileged feign that they are the persecuted, when the powerful posture themselves as victims.” Jackson then counterposed his powerful gay activists to “the unwed black mother” who “truly understands discrimination.”

In its essence, of course, the Family Leader pledge doesn’t stray far from Jackson’s own ideology opposing marriage equality and so forth. No doubt he was offended by the slavery section that Vander Plaats excised after widespread outrage. But it appears there’s not only an effort by evangelical leaders to create distance from Vander Plaats after the pledge caused a national uproar, but to also make clear that Vander Plaats, by virtue of being in Iowa, doesn’t get to frame their issues all by himself.

That’s not to say that Jackson is a paragon of enlightenment. After all, he does think that same-sex marriage is “a Satanic plot to destroy our seed.”

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