By Leonardo Blair
December 26, 2019
Outspoken North Carolina Bishop Patrick Wooden Sr., founder of the conservative Upper Room Church of God in Christ in Raleigh, slammed William J. Barber II, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, for hosting gay Democratic presidential candidate, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and for arguing that Jesus didn’t speak out against homosexuality.
“I’m a registered non-affiliate, so I don’t want you to think I’m in any party. I’m for the Lord and what is right, but it is a disgrace that we live in a country where, if a person of color dons a ‘Make America Great’ hat, people now, on MSNBC and other news agencies, they call that hat a trigger … But you can invite a man married to man to a Christian church and there is no outcry,” Wooden declared in a message to his church earlier this month. “Something is wrong with that. And the only way to get you to buy into that, they’ve got to try and get you to ignore the Scriptures and to take Jesus Christ out of the public eye.”
In an address to his congregation while hosting Buttigieg on Dec. 1, Barber argued that America cannot understand black folks without understanding the LGBT community, and vice versa.
“You know we keep hearing … there is some rift between certain communities. Black folk. Stop putting that on black folk. There is some phobia among all folk. But the flip side is more true, and that is that all people … are in God’s love, God’s care, and have contributed,” Barber said before touching on the issue more directly.
“Stop all that stuff about rift. There ain’t no data behind that, that there is some rift between black folk and gay folk. That’s a false narrative that was created by the National Organization [for] Marriage to separate people,” he claimed.
“You can’t understand the LGBT community without understanding black folk; you can’t understand black folk without understanding the LGBT community. Stop pushing that line. Don’t you know about Audre Lorde? Lesbians, don’t you know about Langston Hughes? Lorraine Hansberry? Don’t you know there would have been no March at Washington with black and white and brown and Jewish folk together if it hadn’t been for a gay brother named Bayard Rustin that God used? So let’s, instead of pushing these unfounded, unfactual narratives, just decide that we are determined to show everybody the love of God,” he said.
During a conversation with Buttigieg about poverty after the Dec. 1 church service, Barber raised the issue of the candidate’s sexuality again, telling his congregants that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality.
“Just to clear the house, because I know it’s out there, we here to talk about poverty. Somebody sent me this question: ‘What are you gonna say to the mayor about being gay?’ I said, ‘Nothing.’ That’s not a Bible question. You don’t see Jesus raising that. It’s not a constitutional question. There’s no constitutional provision. I just got on a plane and flew four hours from Arizona here. I ain’t ask the pilot was he gay, but I did ask him could he fly the plane,” Barber said to applause.
“My surgeon, I don’t ask him if he’s gay. I want to know, can he do the surgery? And right now, what we’re looking at is, are there candidates who can have the political courage, wisdom to address the issue of poverty and the interlocking injustices. That’s the question before us. … We need to kill some of these false narratives,” he asserted.
Wooden argued that it’s Barber who is wrong about Jesus’ position on homosexuality as well as how black Christians feel about Buttigieg.
“Our community thought it was something to see ministers with clergy collars march in favor of same-sex marriage. They’re the NAACP’s number one clients now — the LGBTQ and all the rest of the alphabet community. Black folk didn’t know how to take that. And we reached a new low last Sunday at Greenleaf Christian Church,” he said on Dec. 8.
“The pastor invited a man who is married to a man, Pete Buttigieg, to the service. Allowed him to have words … appeared to be sitting in the pulpit, interviewed him and served him communion, and the man is married to a man.
“And then claimed that Jesus didn’t say anything about that. Now, I didn’t know that he had that much regard for what Jesus had to say, ’cause Jesus speaks against overeating … if we gon’ stick to Jesus now,” he quipped in an apparent dig at Barber’s obesity.
“From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible condemns homosexuality. And when Jesus did mention it, he mentioned Sodom and Gomorrah. They were always mentioned as a pejorative, as a cautionary tale. You need to learn,” he said.
Sodom and Gomorrah was known in the Bible for rampant homosexuality and pride.
“And he said because God did not withhold vengeance on Sodom and Gomorrah, he said it’s gonna be more tolerable in the day of judgement for Sodom and Gomorrah than for some of these areas where the Lord has given miracles and blessings,” he explained.
“Paul describes it (homosexuality) as being unseemly. If we had a frank talk about what go [es] on in that lifestyle they would take us off YouTube and service wouldn’t be rated G, because in a polite society you can’t even talk about that. And here we are in a day where this has happened now,” Wooden continued.
“The world is trying to get you to change your mind about Jesus. The world is trying their best to move us from the Bible because we’re living in what is called a post Christian age. The fastest growing religion in America is not Christianity. Many have moved on from Christianity. And Christians have to be wise enough to pay attention to the things that are going on.”
He further argued that Buttigieg is no friend to blacks or Christianity.
“Pete Buttigieg is no friend of Christianity and if you talk to black folk in Indiana, go talk to black people up there, there’s a reason they can’t stand him. He’s no friend to blacks. He’s no friend to Christians,” Wooden asserted.
“The question is, what is he doing at a black Christian church taking communion? The polls show that he has between zero at the least and maybe at the most 4 percent among the black community? Thank God for that, and I pray that it doesn’t grow,” he said.
Denison University political scientist Paul Djupe has noted that polling supports the view that black voters are less likely to back a gay candidate.
According to the survey for the BlackPAC political action committee, Joe Biden remains the most favored Democratic presidential candidate for black voters in the still crowed primary race with 44 percent support — 29 percentage points higher than Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who’s in second place.
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Buttigieg, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang are all tied at 3 percent.