The Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou is the author of the forthcoming, Gods, Gays, and Guns: Religion and the Future of Democracy (Ig Publishing, 2009), has just written a controversial essay that explores the relationship between our understanding of the bible and its relationship to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Rev. Sekou is a fellow-in-residence at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture. He studied continental philosophy at the New School and systematic theology at Union Theological Seminary. He has also served as a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies-the nation’s oldest multi-issue progressive think tank in Washington, D.C. appointed Rev. Sekou as the first Associate Fellow in Religion and Justice in July 2006.
Below is our recent interview.
BW: Two things come to mind after having read your piece is the unintended contradiction when African Americans become upset when they feel the gay community has appropriated the Civil Rights Movement for their own purposes. Second the interrelation between the civil rights struggle and the gay struggle in the being of Bayard Rustin.
OUS: Yes, yes! Well I think also the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the Bible as we receive them, we appropriate. And that’s what I’m trying to raise in my piece. The question of appropriation and religion, which is the argument black people use the most consistently against the gay marriage, forgetting we’ve appropriated what has been given to us. The Bible wasn’t for us when it was given to us; we had to appropriate it in order for it to have meaning.
BW: Going down that path, there is a strong argument that the Roman Emperor Constantine appropriated his own stand of Christianity, would you agree?
OUS: Exactly, so the question of appropriation is essentially and irrelevant question and it predicates itself around the false notion that black people have a monopoly on the discourse around civil rights.
BW: So you’re debunking the notion of appropriation because everyone is appropriating something.
OUS: Exactly, and but the broader question for me, and the argument that I’m putting forth is black people have always historically read the Constitution in one hand and the bible in the other and that has served to expand democracy. If religion does not serve democracy then it has no place in the public discourse?
Rev. Byron Williams is a syndicated columnist and Bay Area Pastor. For more information, visit http://www.byronspeaks.com
For more on Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, please visit http://www.forusa.org