Why Not Us?
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 • 9:36pm
How interesting! Ethnic, religious and charitable organizations often support candidates for public office, skirting the issue of violation of the IRS, regarding their non-profit status, of course.
It is common to see African-American churches and entities, regularly identifying and promoting their members in the political arena, incidentally, very effectively.
The same can be said of the Anglo Christians, particularly since the election in 1976 of President Jimmy Carter, an openly devoted Christian Democrat. This experience was pivotal for Christians to take a more active and open role in the election of President Ronald Regan in 1980.
The history of our Jewish brothers and sisters in political activism is legendary, and historically has been very supportive of African-American goals in civil rights and political causes.
In fact, many other not for profit special interest groups, such as educational organizations, advocacy groups for the protection of animals, groups in support of same sex marriage, environmental protection, abortion, etc., have had participation in non-partisan and partisan politics. In some cases, such involvement has been very vocal, and in others, even very militant.
In Paterson, New Jersey the African-American church has been very effective in promoting and electing their members to public office. Rev. Albert T. Rowe was president of the City Council, while serving as a councilman; Rev. Alfred E. Steele was a City Council President, went on to be a New Jersey State Assemblyman, and a Passaic County Under-Sheriff; Rev Dr. James A. Kuykendall ran for mayor; and the Black Ministers Workshop, to their credit and honor, has always played a pivotal role in bringing consensus and strategizing in matters of political empowerment.
However, when the Latino-Evangelicos - a group just beginning to make a presence in social activism in this country - take a public political position, they are threatened, literally threatened, and warned of “dire consequences” by the political parties, the African-American Church, and interest groups that have most benefited from this practice. We would hope that this anti-democratic position is not being taken because, in this instance, this practice does not favor them.
This is the recent case of Radio Vision Cristiana, an influential communications entity that “dared” to make public its interest in having Dr. Maria Teresa Feliciano, one of their own, run for Mayor of Paterson. A leader in the faith community, who in their opinion, shares their "Religious, cultural, and socially conservative…" positions, and “seeks to defend these values, and confront those who are indifferent to the plight of ALL the residents of Paterson, or disparage the Judeo-Christian values” they preach.
Not yet finished the ministers’ breakfast where this position was being considered, the station began receiving threatening and intimidating telephone calls from a “so-called political committee,” surprisingly from the NAACP of Paterson, and political charlatans, alluding to the station’s not-for-profit status.
It is quite puzzling that this behavior comes from groups that have historically and admirably advocated for the right to vote; for equal participation of ALL citizens in the democratic process; and most recently, during President Barack Obama’s re-election, fought so hard against voter disfranchisement and voter intimidation.
The door for democratic participation must always remain wide open for EVERYONE and we should not seek deny others what once was denied to us.
We must never forget that Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., taught us: An Injustice to ONE is an Injustice to ALL!