National Black Church Initiative (BCI)
The National Black Church Initiative (BCI) encourages and assists African American clergy and laity in addressing teen childbearing, sexuality education, unintended pregnancies, and other reproductive health issues within the context of African American culture and religion. The National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality is a program of The National Black Church Initiative.
BCI Launches New Blog
In keeping with our commitment to “break the silence on sexuality and spirituality in the Black Church," BCI's blog addresses teen pregnancy prevention, reproductive health and justice, sexual and domestic violence, and HIV/AIDS in the context of Black culture and history. Here are excerpts from our first two blogs:
Why We Can’t Wait: Honoring MLK, by Reverend Dr. Carlton W. Veazey, President and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and founder of BCI
The National Black Church Initiative (BCI) honors the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Today, all over the nation, people will gather together in churches, chapels, auditoriums, and government buildings to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. His inspirational words will be read and recited; his tremendous sacrifice will be honored.
In the midst of the celebration we ought not forget that part of what made Dr. King powerful was the impact he had on policy, not just in the Jim Crow south but all across the nation. We must also remember what Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. pointed out in the afterword to one of Dr. King’s books, “Why We Can’t Wait.” Jackson states that King’s “focus was not merely black and white. It was not merely the racial gap. It was the ethical challenge of wrong and right” (148). This desire to do what is right and the work that King did regarding women’s rights and the sustainability of the black family and community is not far from the mission and goals of the BCI. We seek to bring the moral power of religious communities to ensure reproductive choice through education and advocacy. The Coalition seeks to give clear voice to the reproductive issues of people of color, those living in poverty, and other underserved populations. We must remember that Dr. King often described himself first as a “Baptist preacher.” Indeed his work demonstrated a Christ-like commitment to righting wrongs, confronting the powerful on behalf of the powerless.
It is this idea of speaking for the powerless that is most relevant to our lives today. While the African-American community has made great strides since King was alive and even since Jackson made that statement in 1999, the “dream” has not yet been realized. The need for racial and economic justice and equality is ever present. Now more than ever we must protect and defend the reproductive rights of women and access to comprehensive sexual health education for our young people. The Black Church is still called to “break the silence” and continue the work that King began.
Strange Bedfellows: The Disingenuous Juxtaposition of Anti-Abortion and Anti-Racist Rhetoric, by Pastor Dennis Wiley of Covenant Baptist Church, Washington, DC
January 22, 2011 marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision saying that the right to privacy covered a woman's decision about whether and when to have children. This post is an excerpt from the speech delivered at the March 2010 Board meeting of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
For some time now, I have wondered why right-wing conservative Christians are so passionate about their opposition to abortion. I know what they claim – that they desire to save the life of the unborn child – hence, the moniker “pro-life.” But I have never understood why, on the one hand, they often seem to have such high regard for life before birth and, on the other hand, appear to have such little regard for life after birth.
Of course, I am sure that there are many “pro-lifers” who are genuinely concerned about the preservation and quality of life at every stage of pre- and post-natal development. But I find it peculiar that those who fight so vehemently on behalf of the unborn child are nowhere to be found when it comes to fighting on behalf of the born child. After all, Jesus said that he came not only “that they might have life,” but “that they might have it more abundantly!”
And so, while I applaud the anti-abortion movement’s concern for life, I must admit that I have always smelled a rat. I have smelled a rat because I have not been able to fathom how one can be so concerned about justice for a child who is inside the womb, and yet not be equally concerned about justice for that same child once he/she is outside the womb. I also smell a rat because, while anti-abortionists express a profound interest in the life, health, and welfare of the child, they seem to express minimal interest in the life, health, and welfare of the mother who, by the way, is also a child – a child of God.
National Black Church Initiative Programs
"Keeping It Real!"
A faith-based sexuality education model to address teen pregnancy prevention and better provide young men and women with the resources needed to make healthy, responsible decisions as spiritual and sexual beings.
"Breaking the Silence"
A faith-based sexuality education model developed to assist local congregations, parents, guardians, and clergy address sex and sexuality to assist teens in making healthy life choices.
"Generation to Generation: From Silence to Shouting"
A mothers and daughters (13-18) project developed to reduce teen pregnancy in Ward 8 in the District of Columbia. In collaboration with faith and community-based agencies, the program is designed to strengthen relationships, engage participants in cultural and skills building activities, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and inform of African American women's sexual and reproductive health needs.
Clearinghouse and Resource Center
The Multicultural Programs Department Clearinghouse and Resource Center features a collection of theological books, sermons, speeches, workshop presentations, youth and adult sexuality curriculums and serves as a resource to clergy, seminarians, health and human service educators, parents and youth.
Now available for download - BCI Clearinghouse Webinars.
Twelve Things Series
Twelve Things African American Clergy Can Do to Address Teen Pregnancy
Twelve Things Black Clergy and Congregations Can Do to Address HIV/AIDS
Twelve Things African American and Latino Clergy and Congregations Can Do to Promote Reproductive Health and Justice
Twelve Things Parents, Guardians and Caregivers Can Do to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
To learn more about how your church can get involved with the Black Church Initiative of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, contact:
Multicultural Programs Department
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
1413 K Street NW, 14th Floor
Washington, DC 20005