- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2005

The Rev. Willie Wilson is a man of many colors. I first encountered him in the mid-1970s, when I was among a few dozen worshipers at Union Temple Baptist Church. Today, Union Temple’s congregation is thousands-strong,Mr.Wilsonisan influential minister of national import and the church is as deeply involved in politics and culture as any religious institution in Washington. There is, though, a small community of people who are verbally thrashing Willie Wilson as if he had betrayed his calling.

The criticism stems from a July 3 sermon. All Mr. Wilson said was that the black family was in trouble and that lesbianism and women and mothers trying to go it alone are but two reasons. He used coarse terms to describe homosexual acts. Homosexuals are up in arms about his remarks, and have taken to calling the reverend a homophobe and anti-gay. Marion Barry — yep, that Marion Barry — said the reverend should apologize. The reverend “sincerely and profusely” apologized.

Apologizing was the Christian thing to do. That’s not all the reverend said. In his statement, which is posted on the church’s Website, Mr. Wilson also used tempered words to explain why he said what he said from the pulpit that Sunday, and why “God’s children” deserve a better lot than the one defined by pathologies created at the hands of gay and straight adults.

Indeed, even the media is out to burn Mr. Wilson. In its Aug. 3 editions, The Washington Post newspages showed a rainbow of bias in its headlines: “D.C. Pastor Again Assails Lesbianism” and “D.C. Pastor Continues Attack on Lesbianism.” The Washington Blade urged that the reverend be fired as executive director of the Millions More Movement, Louis Farrakhan’s organizational effort to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Millon Man March. The Blade’s unambiguous headline said, “Fire Willie Wilson from Millions March,” and its threatening logic was that his leadership would “risk widening the divide between blacks and gays.” If there is a divide between blacks and gays then Willie Wilson spoke truth to lie.

Mr. Wilson pointed out the fact that more than one-third of black men are in the criminal justice system, leaving “few men for our daughters to marry.” He also said “our girls, some as young as 10 and 11 years old are engaging in same sex relations… Teachers and school administrators indicate that a serious problem at general assemblies is preventing girls from openly displaying deep affection for each when they gather … many girls are getting involved because they have been threatened and intimidated into participating by same sex girls’ gangs. Others have become involved to eliminate the fear of becomng pregnant while yet others become involved from the reaction to having seen how badly their mothers and other women have been treated and abused by men. All of this I know not from hearsay of theory, but through actual counseling of parents, grandparents and their daughters and granddaughters who are grappling with this issue.

“Having sex at such a tender age, whether of a homosexual or heterosexual nature, should be unacceptable to all clear-thinking adults. Such behavior cannot be condoned and it certainly should not be ignored.”

Willie Wilson deserves a chorus of amens for drawing our attention to such pathologies. Instead, the pot is calling the kettle black.

The gay and the mainstream media can cite incredible statistics on homosexuality, teens and gang violence, but none of them can whitewash the socio-economic realities that Union Temple Baptist Church deals with day in and out. The church, located in the poorest ward of the nation’s capital, has ministries for every imaginable demographic and social concern, including HIV/AIDS. It holds funerals for youths cut down by violence and weddings for young people who profess their love for one another. Its outreach tentacles aren’t tethered to the Beltway.

From the pulpit, Rev. Wilson doesn’t merely preach and minister to the body and the mind. He tries to reach the souls of journalists and other clergy, business leaders and politicians, feminists and the unemployed, homemakers and homewreckers, gays and heterosexuals. In other words, he ministers to all God’s children.

Gays were not more prepared for the reverend’s sermon on July 3, than middle-class blacks were for Bill Cosby’s in 2004. Both men are trying to raise our consciousness on problems within black America. All they want us to do is acknowledge the issue, deliberate on possible solutions and put the solutions into play.

Pretending there is no such thing as lesbianism among young black girls is like pretending HIV/AIDS is a problem for only gay white men.

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