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Commentary: The mission for black faith leaders

By Derryck Green Prior to November's election, a group of black clergy led by Jackie Rivers of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies delivered a letter to Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters.

By Derryck Green

Prior to November's election, a group of black clergy led by Jackie Rivers of the Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies delivered a letter to Hillary Clinton's campaign headquarters.

The letter questioned how Clinton might have addressed various problems within black communities - like abortion, police brutality, poor education, and economic opportunities.

The letter concluded by requesting a meeting with Clinton during her first 100 days in office to discuss these issues in more detail.

There will be no meeting.

In trying to persuade Democrats to take black concerns seriously, black leaders - religious or not - perpetuate the habit of outsourcing black responsibility. They also reinforce the preoccupation with - and dependence on - government to find solutions to black adversity.

Encouraging politicians to pass legislation addressing education and economic issues is fine. But black religious leaders are wrong to plead with politicians to resolve black moral dysfunction that can and must be principally challenged by local churches in their respective communities.

For example, the clergy letter condemns high abortion rates among blacks. Addressing the effect of abortion, it noted that "blacks account for roughly 38 percent of all abortions in the country though we represent only 13 percent of the population."

The letter affirms that people are "created in God's image," and innocent human life deserves protection against the "deliberate destruction . . . in its most vulnerable state."

Clinton would have facilitated more black abortion. She was the recipient of an award named after racial eugenicist Margaret Sanger. Clinton enthusiastically supports abortion up to the point of birth. Democrats are religiously devoted to abortion, and that's not changing.

Black church leaders are much better positioned to confront the destructive effects of black abortion because it's a moral problem, and because of their proximity to the problem. The women having these abortions are members of their local communities, churches, and religious institutions.

The problem and solution of reducing black abortion comes down to moral redemption and black responsibility, which starts with local church leaders redeeming theologies of life that flatly denounce sexually destructive behaviors (including abortion as birth control) and encouraging productive ones; not government intervention.

The same goes for black criminality, which the letter correctly labeled a "calamity," which encourages police presence in black neighborhoods. But the letter sought action and resolution from the wrong person, party, and medium.

Effective policing and commensurate sentencing for criminality are needed. But black churches must repeatedly rebuke the depravity of behaviors that seek death and destruction, or more blacks - particularly the innocent - will suffer predictable consequences. Black churches must reject the tradition of silence when it comes to condemning or excusing black criminality, which condones the very community-destroying behaviors these black Christians were spotlighting.

Black churches must also strongly repudiate the cultural disorders and criminal stereotypes that draw the eye and ire of law enforcement. Black churches should reemphasize a Christian temperament that includes family stability, fatherhood, self-respect, personal responsibility, and the love of neighbor to lessen black criminality and tension-filled police responses.

We're obligated to control the things that are within our power to control. This includes admitting that some blacks are sabotaging black society, but also that blacks can restore black society, which would demonstrate real black empowerment, improving America in the process.

Black churches need to emphasize the gospel - and other resources - that are instrumental in changing lives and overcoming the negative aspects of black culture.

Blacks must stop preserving the posture of weakness and helplessness, and depending on politics to save us.

Black faith leaders have been called and entrusted to bear witness to the transformative nature of the Christian gospel. Petitioning the altar of government for restoration implies that the gospel of Christ is pragmatically insufficient when compared to the gospel of big government.

We must remember - salvation is from God, not the government.

Derryck Green is a member of Project 21 - a National Leadership of Black Conservatives. He wrote this for