In general I don’t cover politics on this blog, but every once in a while, I feel compelled to do so. When I heard that a new political organization was formed to honor the legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer, I thought it deserved coverage. As I hope that readers of varied political ideologies find their way to After the Altar Call, I also hope that we can all appreciate new ways of looking at political issues. With that being said, below is my interview with attorney and political strategist Justin Giboney, one of the leaders of the newly formed Hamer Democrats…
1. You are one of the founders of the AND Campaign. What is the difference between the AND Campaign and Hamer Democrats?
The AND Campaign is a formal organization that, among other things, seeks to raise civic literacy among Christians and help them frame the issues based on a biblical worldview rather than a perspective that’s primarily partisan or ideological. Hamer Democrats is just a concept. It’s the application of the AND Campaign’s gospel-centered framework for Christian who are center left sociopolitically. AND is not a partisan organization, so we also have a few Republicans who are associated with AND working on a similar concept for the political right.
2. Why did you feel it necessary to form Hamer Democrats at this time? And why did you choose to align with Democrats since you are critical of both major political parties?
Hamer Democrats is important because a lot of Christian are allowing their political affiliations to become religious in nature and part of their identity. Consequently, you see Christians changing their opinion on moral issues based on the ever-growing extremes of their party. For instance, very few African-Americans consider themselves to be liberal (especially African-American Christians); however, it’s almost impossible to name one African-American federal elected official, who’s a Democrat, that’s willing to speak up against late-term abortions or some of the extreme policy we’re seeing when it comes to gender identity. That’s by design and it’s a miscarriage of democracy. Many of our representative aren’t really representing their constituencies. They’re representing progressive interest groups.
We don’t think Christians participating in partisan politics is a bad thing, but the party shouldn’t dictate your opinions and certainly shouldn’t cause you to take a position that’s in conflict with Scripture. Hamer Democrats allows people to stay in their party, while separating their identity, and therefore, being able to check and question their party when necessary. There are a lot of people who feel homeless in politics right now – They’re too conservative for Democrats and too progressive for Republicans. Hamer Democrats and the Republican equivalent give them a place to land and engage with biblical fidelity. Instead of seeking for validation or favor from our parties.
I’m a Democrat because I still believe they represent the underserved and cast aside better than Republicans do today. I still vote Democrat the great majority of the time. That said, partisan affiliation doesn’t mean as much to me as it does to some. It’s just a general reference point. I don’t really believe in “party loyalty” and I will continue to call the party out and support Republicans who are doing the right thing.
3. How did you first learn of Fannie Lou Hamer and what drew you to her?
I first learned about Fannie Lou Hamer by reading about the Civil Rights Movement. The more I read about her, the more I had trouble understanding why she wasn’t talked about more often. She was an outstanding orator, a woman of faith and a committed Civil Rights leader in every sense of the word. She lived through the worst aspects of the Jim Crow era in ways that other Civil Rights Leaders were able to avoid. Most of all, she was able to commit to fighting for social justice, while being fully committed to moral order and other biblical values. Dr. CJ Rhodes, who pastors in Jackson, MS actually came up with the name Hamer Democrats. It was his brilliant idea. She connects so well with what AND is doing because she was biblical and didn’t apologize for not fully fitting into the progressive or conservative caricatures.
From what I’ve read about her and her convictions, I think she’d still be championing voter rights and criminal justice. She’d be criticizing the ills of consumer capitalism and challenging the left’s pro-choice positions that make black life seem problematic and disposable.
We’ll be hosting a series of talks (FB Chats) about the Hamer Democrats along with debate watch parties in different cities. People can join our Facebook page and connect with us through the AND Campaign’s mailing list and website. Stay tuned because there are a few other things that I can’t reveal at the moment. (See information below about a FB chat that will be held tomorrow!)
We won’t be endorsing a candidate.
First, they should be getting informed about each candidate and the issues. They should be discussing it with their friends and church family in ways that are civil and constructive. It’s also important to support civic organizations who are speaking into that space and upholding a gospel-centered position.
For more information about Hamer Democrats, go to the Hamer Democrats Facebook page.