Black pastors issue urgent plea to voters at Sunday services
At Sunday services, in rallies and on social media, black pastors urged congregants to vote, hoping to inspire a late flood of African-American turnout that could help propel Democrat Hillary Clinton to victory in critical swing states on Tuesday.
In Detroit, a pastor spoke of voting and citizenship. In Philadelphia, the minister reminded congregants others had died for their chance to cast a ballot. The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke to a crowd of a few hundred people gathered in front of City Hall in Tallahassee, Florida, right before they marched a block over to the county courthouse to vote early.
Along with women and Hispanics, African-Americans are seen as critical to Clinton’s chances against Republican Donald Trump, who polls show is not popular among black voters. However, early voting data from key states indicate turnout will not be as high this year as it was four years ago, when Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, was on the ballot. Sunday’s efforts were aimed at minimizing that decline.
Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of the Texas megachurch The Potter’s House, who has a national and international following, tweeted on a red, white and blue backdrop, “Make sure your voice is heard. Vote on Nov. 8.”
“Preachers are trying to strike a moral nerve and somehow penetrate the fog of indifference and try to remind people what’s at stake this year,” said the Rev. James Forbes, retired senior minister of The Riverside Church, who has been traveling the country to mobilize voters. He will speak Sunday night in New York for a national get-out-the-vote telecast from the church called “The Revival: Time for a Moral Revolution in Values.”
Forbes and other pastors have taken pains to emphasize they were not endorsing a candidate, but it was hard to mistake some remarks Sunday that signaled a deep opposition to Trump.
A get out the vote sign is shown outside St. Matthew Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit Sunday. At Sunday services, in rallies and on social media, black pastors labored to persuade congregants they should vote, hoping to minimize an expected drop in black voter participation this Election Day compared to four years ago when Barack Obama was a candidate.