The Congressional Black Caucus, Attorney General Eric Holder, the ACLU, and officials from the IRS spoke with hundreds of Pastors in the African-American community at a summit Wednesday on how to participate in the 2012 election. Prior to the event, the groups said they would not discuss specific support of any one candidate, which would conflict with the churches' non-profit status, but would brief the community on energizing congregants to vote, protecting a church's tax exempt status, and taking on “draconian” laws like Voter ID. Considering the mix of political players from the CBC and ACLU with traditionally non-partisan institutions like the Attorney General's office, IRS and the church, some worried that the discussion could lead to the politicization of the pulpit as a means to reach out to the Democratic base.
Among African-Americans, 83 to 90 percent have supported the Democratic presidential candidate in elections between 1980 and 2004 , and 95 percent supported Barack Obama in 2008. Seventy-eight percent of Jewish voters supported the president in 2008, and like African-Americans, some eyebrows have been raised following alleged attempts by high-level Jewish Democrats to reach out to the practicing base from within the temple. DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz caused recent controversy when she was scheduled to speak at a Miami temple without an opposing view or any sort of counterpoint. Following vocal protest from several members of the congregation, the event was canceled.
While those supporting the president from his campaign team, cabinet, and the DNC seem shameless in attempting to rally his election day troops by coming in through the chapel back door, should religious communities be totally muted out of the political process? Are religious leaders really absent from partisan politics on both sides?
The "Real News" panel was joined by Glenn Beck Wednesday to discuss whether a discretion between political and religious actors even exists, and if so, what are the implications of Wednesday's event for conservatives and liberals.