Those Black Christian pastors that urged their congregations to support President Bush because of his views on abortion and gay civil rights have got to be kicking themselves for their blind allegiance to his moral agenda. The world watched in shock and dismay, and that included Black pastors, the cavalier disregard that Bush showed for the Black poor in New Orleans. And that almost certainly includes many Black Christians in New Orleans that Bush has relentlessly courted, and were key to his trek back to the White House. Bush and right-hand man Karl Rove also expect big things from them in 2006 and 2008. Louisiana is a key part of the Bible Belt South, and though New Orleans has a reputation as a liberal, free-swinging oasis in the South, many of the city's Blacks, including the poorest of the poor, and devout Christians, are the ones that Bush and Rove consider key support allies. But what did they get for that support? Thousands of lives and homes lost, billions in lost income, and an utter disregard for their safety. The 'their' being Black Christians.
Yet, President Bush and his Black supporters pulled out all stops to woo Black Christian evangelical voters to the GOP tent in 2004. Having found common ground on issues of morality, President Bush used the issue of gay marriage and abortion to catapult his standing in the Black Christian community and garner votes for his re-election.
A Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies poll in 2004 found that Blacks opposed gay marriage at a higher number than the overall population. Many Blacks also detested Kerry's supposed support of abortion. In polls, Kerry got 20 percent less support from Black conservative evangelicals than Democratic presidential contender Al Gore received in 2000.
In 2004, more than 10 percent of Blacks voted for Bush, and in Ohio, it was 20 percent.
However, in the aftermath of Katrina, the honeymoon could be over for Black evangelicals and President Bush as he is perceived as having abandoned the same Blacks that helped put him back into office.
Bush's unwillingness to save the lives of poor Blacks in New Orleans has been laid out in Black and white, literally for the world to see.
Bush has had a major moral calamity that he and Rove won't be able to cover up so quickly.
Blacks everywhere have been affected directly or indirectly by Katrina.
The heart-wrenching pleas for help from the residents of New Orleans hits home with Blacks that are young, elderly, conservative, liberal, Christian, non-Christian, gay and straight.
The issue of race and class has been re-visited in a most distasteful way for African Americans, with a blatant reminder that America doesn't care for its poorest citizens.
Realizing that a national disaster could happen anywhere at any time, Blacks are reflecting on their own situations and the federal government. Again, this can and should have a devastating affect on Bush's newfound common ground with Black evangelicals.
Finally, there are two questions for Bush and Black evangelicals.
Will the devout Black pastors that trekked dutifully to the White House the past few years seeking faith-based money and the president's support continue to blindly follow a man that the overwhelming majority of Black Americans feel abandoned them in their greatest moment of need? And will Bush be able to look these Black pastors in the eye again and say with a straight face, I did everything I could to help you in your greatest moment of need? After all, that's the Christian thing to do.
Those Black evangelicals that are still tempted to look the other way should remember that when the GOP comes knocking again.
Can I get an Amen!
At 27, Jasmyne A. Cannick is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. A Los Angeles native, she is the Policy and Communications Director for the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable and can be reached via her Web site at www.jasmynecannick.com .