Theology Thursdays: Same Sex Relations, The Black Community, and The Millions More Movement - Reverend Willie Wilson's Statement Regarding His July 3, 2005 Sermon.
A public furor has recently been created about a sermon that I preached to my congregation within the confines of Union Temple Baptist Church on July 3, 2005.
In the face of extreme public ridicule and labeling, I have steadfastly refused to engage in the media attacks that have portrayed me as a “sexist, homophobic, so-called man of God, spewing hatred”.
I am not homophobic, nor am I an antifeminist; rather I am deeply concerned about the future of our children and the future of the Black family. Therefore my concern should not be misconstrued or mistaken as homophobic but as a deep, sincere and abiding love for our children and for what is moral and just. In retrospect I admit that some of the language I used in my sermon was intemperate and offended some of my brothers and sisters. To any and all whom I offended because of this language I sincerely and most profusely apologize. But I do not apologize for bringing to the forefront a very critical and crucial issue facing our young girls as well as the survival of the black family.
As I stated in a Millions More Movement Rally on July 16, 2005 at Scripture Cathedral Church, I will never defame my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters by responding in kind through the media. I have not spoken to any media regarding this matter. Others took my message, which was preached to my congregation and aired it over satellite radio all over the Nation and gave it to the print media. The attacks on me in the media have been quite vicious, vindictive and hateful. I very strongly feel that any problems in the Black family should adhere to the sagacious admonitions of our elders who told us “what goes on in the family, stays in the family”. All families have struggles, difficulties and differences, but how you settle those differences and move forward in spite of them is the key to being successful.
As a preacher-prophet it is my responsibility to do critical analysis and assessment of what is going on in society and then to offer a Biblical, spiritual and moral response. This is what I did.
All of us should be aware that there is a severe crisis in the Black community concerning our young girls. The situation is so grave that it should be declared a national emergency. The very survival of the Black family is being threatened by this crisis.
For the last 10 years or so the Black community has been lamenting the fact that so many of our young black men are in jail that there will be few men for our daughters to marry. The incarceration rate is not getting any better, only worse. Over 1/3 of our Black men are now involved in the criminal justice system.
Now we add to the equation the fact that our girls, some as young as 10 and 11 years of age are engaging in same sex relations. This is occurring at an alarming rate all over the nation. At a recent local school, I am told that girls were asked to report to the gymnasium. A survey was conducted to decipher how many girls were involved in same sex relations, the number indicating that they were outnumbered those who had not by a 10 to 1 count.
Teachers and school administrators indicate that a serious problem at general assemblies is preventing girls from openly displaying deep affection for each other when they gather.
This problem, as I forestated, is not indigenous to the Washington Metropolitan area, but is nationwide. It is a problem that is epidemic, endemic and pandemic in the Black community. It is epidemic because it has gotten totally out of hand. It is endemic because it is rapidly becoming a part of the very fiber and fabric of the black community. And it is pandemic because it is happening in Black communities all over the nation. Though many clergy, parents, school administrators, teachers, community and youth workers are aware of this very serious situation, no one has addressed it.
Many girls are getting involved because they have been threatened and intimidated into participating by same sex girls’ gangs. Others have become involved to eliminate the fear of becoming pregnant while yet others become involved from the reaction to having seen how badly their mothers and other women have been treated and abused by men. All of this I know not from hearsay or theory, but through actual counseling of parents, grandparents and their daughters and granddaughters who are grappling with this issue.
Having sex at such a tender age, whether of a homosexual or heterosexual nature, should be unacceptable to all clear-thinking adults. Such behavior cannot be condoned and it certainly should not be ignored.
Recent psychological studies have revealed that the part of the brain that controls the ability to reason and exercise sound judgment does not fully develop until around 25 years of age. Clearly youths in elementary, junior high or even high school are not capable of making reasoned judgments about their sexual orientation or sexual preference. This is the issue that I was primarily addressing in my statement about “lesbians about to take over the community.”
Indeed the numbers of our young girls engaging in same sex behavior are prolific, astounding and mind-boggling. If we love our people and our children we cannot afford to ignore this issue.
I truly trust and pray that everyone will understand my position on this matter.
Further comments about my sermon relate to my statement about the disparities in education and income between our Black men and women. I am far too knowledgeable, wise and intelligent to think that women making more money than men is the only problem or the primary conflict in marriages between Black men and women, but it is a problem. My statement was a shorthand analysis of a situation that I know to be much more complex and sophisticated. But I do know from counseling that I have conducted that some Black men are not able to handle a situation where their wife makes more money than they do.
I have two lovely daughters and I have always encouraged both of them to reach for the highest plateau of personal achievement. Both are Spelman graduates and have earned their Masters Degree and are looking forward to their doctoral studies. I expect them both to make as much money as they possibly can.
My record of 32 years of pastoring and community involvement will clearly show that I am clearly not against the upward mobility and advancement of women. On the contrary, I highly respect and honor women and have always fought to elevate women to their rightful and just place in society.
In 1978, I was the first pastor in the area to license and ordain a woman preacher into the gospel ministry. For doing so, I was expelled from the Baptist Ministers Conference of Washington, DC and Vicinity. But I remained steadfast in my conviction and I have since that time licensed and ordained 19 other women.
In a profession (church ministry) where women are still not accorded their proper place, my wife serves as the Co-Pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church.
I have consistently and continually lobbied and fought for women’s rights in the workplace and in the community.
In 1985, when a very quiet, peaceful, respectful 57 year old grandmother suffered a heart attack as the result of a store owner placing a loaded pistol to her head, I immediately came to her rescue, boycotted the store and caused it to be shut down for 57 days. I determined that no storeowner should be allowed to treat one of our women in such a manner and still operate in the community.
When Bishop Vashti McKenzie was the program director of the WYCB Radio gospel station when she was threatened with dismissal, I interceded and fought for her retention.
When Carole Randolph, former Television host of a local television show was dismissed from her job, I along with Rev. Walter Fauntroy, led the fight to retain her, which resulted in an extension of her show.
At a time when broadcasting mogul Cathy Hughes was struggling to keep WOL Radio station alive, I did her daily early morning drivetime broadcast free of charge to help her save her radio station. Some of my men voluntarily helped her with remodeling and repairs that she could not afford to pay for. She now owns a conglomerate of radio stations all across the nation.
As Dr. Dorothy Height was attempting to liquidate the debt on the National Council of Negro Women Headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue, I served along with Rev. Sister Mamie Williams on the Church Fundraising Committee and raised several thousand dollars at my church for the effort.
I enlisted many of the women now serving as members of the executive committee or as National Co-conveners of the Millions More Movement.
So far as the gay and lesbian community is concerned, I have worked diligently for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. This is Union Temple’s 15th year conducting its “HIV AIDS Huggin’ Ministry”. This Ministry was initiated at a time when HIV-AIDS was labeled as a strictly homosexual disease and believed to be transmitted by simply touching someone with the illness. Under my leadership, Union Temple continued to help and hug our brothers and sisters.
Over the past 20 years, Union Temple has operated the AKOMA program, which ministers to the health, housing, financial, social and psychological needs of HIV-AIDS infected individuals. We have gone far beyond governmental regulations and mandates regarding non-discriminating practices. We have always extended unconditional love to all our patients without reference to sexual orientation or preference.
In addition, over the years I have conducted several forums to better relations between the Black church and the gay and lesbian community. I also held a widely acclaimed session to reconnect gay and lesbian individuals to their parents and other family members from whom they had been estranged. Many families were reconnected for the first time in years, though some of my parishioners resigned their membership because I had this program in the church. Nonetheless, I remained steadfast in my commitment to the fact that all of us are God’s children and should be recognized as such.
Finally, let me say that from its inception, the Millions More Movement has been inclusive and open to all of our people to participate. It was at my insistence in a letter to the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan that not just men, but women and children be included in the 10th year commemoration of the Million Man March. At the heart of the message and meaning of this historic march and renewed movement is the principle of unity; a unity rooted in our shared history, shared interest and shared struggle as Black people. Our goal is for an operational unity, a unity in diversity, a unity without uniformity, a unity of common interest in the well-being and flourishing of our people as a whole. Our essential thrust has always been to build a movement, which unites all of our people into a single social force.
Therefore the call has been to come together focusing not on what divides us but on what unites us, not on our differences but on our similarities, and not on our separate agendas as groups but on our common interlocking goals as Black people. And these goals are to secure freedom, social justice, educational, political and economic empowerment and high spiritual values for all Black people.
If you are Black, subject to racial profiling, police brutality or discrimination, you are included. I welcome all of my brothers and sisters to join us in making a difference for our people.
This statement appears on the site of the Union Temple Baptist Church
Reverend Willie Wilson
Thursday, August 4, 2005