News Articles

History with a heavy heart

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–I watched history being made Tuesday night. I watched on television as Sen. Barack Obama became the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for the presidency of the United States. I watched with mixed emotions.

In one sense, my heart swelled with pride as an attractive, articulate African-American man reached the pinnacle of American politics — becoming the first person of color to lead a major party ticket into a presidential election.

I was moved by Obama’s soaring oratory and delighted by the sight of 20,000 people of different races and backgrounds packed into an arena to cheer him on.

It was hard to believe that it was only a generation ago that my forefathers and mothers were routinely hosed, beaten, even killed as they struggled to attain basic human rights.

And now here was Barack Obama — one step away from the presidency of the United States. So, why do I also have a heavy heart? Because I know that I cannot in good conscience vote for Obama for president.

When I look beyond the historic nature of candidacy, beyond what his success reveals about how far race relations have advanced in this country, beyond the emotions stirred by his oratory — Barack Obama, unfortunately, stands for everything to which I am opposed.

He stands for the taking of innocent human life in the womb almost without restriction. He stands for redefining marriage as no longer between one man and one woman. He stands for a no-choice educational system that traps kids in failing schools. Most importantly, despite his post-racial rhetoric, he stands for a theology that emphasizes racial identity over Gospel witness.

As an African-American, I am proud of Barack Obama’s success. As an African-American evangelical, that pride is tempered by a heavy heart.
Lawrence Smith is vice president for communications at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.