Sunday, December 12, 2004


"We can't be silenced," he said. "We are not marching against folks. We are marching for folks."

Source: the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thousands of Christian soldiers marched through one of Atlanta's most storied neighborhoods Saturday, opposing gay marriage and promoting what they see as a moral agenda for the country — especially African-Americans.

Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, led the march arm-in-arm with the Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Long organized the demonstration and carried an Olympic-style torch lighted from the eternal flame at the King Center, where the march began.

Among the throng were a troupe of step-dancing young women clad in camouflage and many New Birth members, who wore black shirts with the words "Stop the Silence" written across the front. Some 40 members of the Nation of Islam, in their trademark dark suits and bowties, jogged down the sidewalk to add their support.

As the group marched through Sweet Auburn, the Atlanta neighborhood that nurtured the civil rights movement, about 50 counterdemonstrators lined Auburn Avenue.

The gay rights group sang, "In the name of Jesus, hate has to go," and chanted, "Not the dream of Dr. King." One person held a sign that read "Bigots Go Back to Lithonia."

But the march ended peacefully.

Long, whose church claims 25,000 members, told his supporters it was time for the black community to be heard.

"We can't be silenced," he said. "We are not marching against folks. We are marching for folks."

According to New Birth's Web site, the march advocated "a constitutional amendment to fully protect marriage between one man and one woman." But some who participated said gay marriage was only one of the issues motivating them.

Some people no doubt will say Long is just currying favor with the Republican administration, but

Polls show that almost three-quarters of African-Americans — a larger percentage than Americans as a whole — believe the nation is losing its "moral compass" by removing prayer from public schools and banning display of the Ten Commandments on government property.

Many African-Americans have also expressed support for comedian Bill Cosby, who has crisscrossed the country with a call for black parents to take greater responsibility for their families and their communities — although Cosby has his share of critics.

Claudine Cheatem, who moved to Atlanta two months ago to be a part of Long's church, said she joined the march because she wants to promote a world where African-Americans take responsibility for their actions and stop the violence and poverty that entrap them.

If it's not grass roots, people wanting this, it won't work, but it is good to see that people who care are willing to be seen caring! That is the American way.

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