Features

A black man's dilemma

"A black man's dilemma" Continued...

Issue: "Four horsemen of the apocalypse," Oct. 4, 2008

In 2004, he counter-protested the National Organization for Women's March for Women's Lives and said he'd never forget the look on Whoopi Goldberg's face as she came around the corner and saw their 12-by-4-foot signs of aborted babies.

Childress said the NOW marchers attacked a young man who was videotaping them as they cursed and swore at the pro-lifers, and he feared violence all day. "I have never been cursed, spat at more in my entire life. It made up for anything that hadn't been done for the last 30 years or so." Other marchers-those whose employers made them march and a couple of girls his teenage daughter knew-left the NOW ranks to stand with the pro-lifers.

Now Childress is branching out from protests into politics. A box in the top floor of his church overflows with fliers that read, "Vote Your Values," and a sign reading, "Rev. Childress for Assembly, 34th District: Family Values, Integrity, Honest Leadership," hangs on the wall. Childress said he'd never given political office a thought until Assemblyman Peter Eagler hastily asked him to run as part of his team.

Then Eagler and the Democratic party leaders found out that although Childress was a Democrat, he was pro-life and opposed gay marriage. Eagler dropped out of the race (without telling Childress why), and Childress ran alone and lost.

A party boss said the Democratic tent just wasn't big enough for Childress. Saying he "doesn't run from party bosses," Childress ran as a Republican in 2007 and lost again. He plans to run a third time as an Independent. In a district that is 90 percent Democratic, he faces an uphill battle with a cheerful optimism: "I can't believe that we are so narrow-minded that we only vote party, not principle."

He said those principles require him to oppose Barack Obama. Childress looks for male African-American role models like Obama, who has a solid family life and a list of record-breaking achievements. "He did it as an African-American male. He's on uncharted ground," said Childress.

When Childress says he's grieved that Obama stands opposed to his -values, he looks genuinely grieved. His fluid speech slows, and he turns to Martin Luther King to explain his position: "He said there comes a time when one must do something not because it's politically correct, not because it's popular, not because it's safe, but because our conscience tells us it is right."

He has to judge Obama not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character, said Childress. He pauses a moment before he carefully asks, "Why are you putting down your value system to support a man who stands against basically everything you've been taught?"

Childress said abortion, marriage, and school choice are the most important issues to him, and all three affect African-Americans more than other ethnic groups: Their abortion rate is higher, their marriage rate is lower, and black children in urban cities suffer the most from poor education. Obama is pro-abortion, supports gay civil unions, and is opposed to vouchers. Childress said most in his African-American church find it difficult not to support Barack Obama but agree: "That's what we would want, not necessarily what our values would ask for."

Meanwhile, Childress' passion for social justice grows: "The more I walk with the Lord, the more I see a need for mankind to be free from any injustice that would be an impediment to their life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That is unquestionably, as Martin Luther King said, the American dream."

Comments

You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading

     

    Gracepoint

    The primary difference between the brilliant British series Broadchurch

    Advertisement