One of the nation’s most influential black churches condemned last week’s contempt-of-Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder, likening it to “evil” Reconstruction-era voter suppression.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) adopted the resolution last week and put on its website Tuesday. The resolution sought to draw a connection between the House vote and Mr. Holder’s plan to look into whether recent legislation to condemn voter fraud was driven by an effort to suppress voter turnout.
“Whereas the attack against Attorney General Holder comes after his stated intent to determine whether recent laws passed to combat non-existent voter fraud are actually efforts at voter suppression that violate the Voting Rights Act,” the AME bishops said in the resolution. “Be it, therefore, hereby resolved that the 49th General Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal church condemns the contemptible action taken against the office held by Attorney General Eric Holder, and finds that action to be political in nature and designed, as were the evil strategies employed following the Reconstruction era, to suppress the votes of those who might change the balance of political power in Congress and in the White House.”
The resolution was adopted at the denomination’s quadrennial conference Thursday, the same day the House voted on the contempt measure and the day First Lady Michelle Obama spoke to the AME delegates, praising the church’s role in fighting slavery and segregation and pushing the church to become more involved in politics.
“I want to talk about how we carry on the legacy that is our inheritance as Americans, as African Americans and as members of the AME church,” Mrs. Obama told the gathering. “I want to talk about what we can learn from our history about the power of being an active, engaged citizen in our democracy.”
The AME church, established in 1787 in Philadelphia, has been known for its social justice activism.
“Politics and faith can’t be separated,” said the Rev. Reginald Jackson, pastor of St. Matthew’s Church in Orange, N.J., and one of AME’s 21 bishops. “If it hadn’t been for the church, we might not have civil rights today. Historically the black church has always addressed issues that impact our community. It’s our responsibility to be prophetic.”