*On the front page of CNN today, there was an interesting article about the divide between the Obama Administration and the African American church.

The author of the piece seems to be implying that black church opposition to gay marriage is hypocritical, in large part because the bible being quoted by Christians is the same one that promoted the institution of slavery.

I was immediately irked by the insinuation that somehow, anyone who opposes gay marriage is driven by the same ignorance that led some enslavement of other human beings.  CNN is a network that has shown itself to be in support of gay rights (Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon are members of the gay community, and the network supported Lemon’s book about the agony of being black and gay).   The position is admirable, since we can appreciate the concept of providing equal rights to everyone.

I don’t oppose gay marriage myself, but I was annoyed by the CNN article.  What bothered me most about CNN’s depiction of the black church is that it is one that wreaks of the kind of liberal paternalism that treats African Americans as if we are savages who need to be educated by white folks.   The comparison of gay marriage opposition to slavery is a deliberate effort to poke at the political pressure point of African Americans, reducing our most painful collective experience into a political football.  It’s no different from telling a woman that she should protest the labor practices of Wal-Mart because she was once raped by a Wal-Mart employee.

While the black church has been under the spotlight for its opposition to gay marriage, I can’t help but notice that this same nasty criticism has not been unleashed onto white Christians.  From what I understand, most Christians adhere to the same principles and read from the same bible, and I remain confused as to why African Americans are being singled out in such a way.  There seems to be a misguided perception that black voters owe something to the Democrats.  While we are welcome to join the Democratic agenda, the black agenda is usually considered to be unworthy of consideration.

Note to liberal Democrats:  Black people don’t owe you anything. We bring our beliefs about faith, family and society to the table in the same way you bring your own beliefs about global warming, animal rights, and the torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay.  Our issues are not always going to be in lockstep, and you have no right to scold us like children when we do not see eye-to-eye.

An even bigger secret is that there are millions of African Americans who are actually closet conservatives, and their thin loyalty to the Democratic agenda is one that is driven by Democratic support for civil rights, affirmative action and various social programs.  If the disrespect continues and Republicans let go of some of that racism, you might see millions of black people jumping ship.  I say all this as a person who hasn’t gone to church for months, and a man who will never vote Republican.  But one thing I have that many liberals do not is the desire to respect opinions that differ from my own.

Black people are not meant to be politically imperialized Democratic puppets.  We can think for ourselves.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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