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June 28th, 2012
04:36 PM ET

First lady implores black churchgoers to get political

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - First lady Michelle Obama made an impassioned pitch for black churchgoers to embrace political action on Thursday in a speech to the country’s oldest black religious denomination.

“To anyone who says that church is no place to talk about these issues, you tell them there is no place better,” Obama said at a conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Because ultimately, these are not just political issues,” she said. “They are moral issues.”

With Election Day a little more than four months away, the first lady decried what she suggested was voter apathy in the black community.

“How many of us have asked someone whether they’re going to vote, and (they) tell us, ‘No, I voted last time,’ or ‘Is there really an election going on?’ ”

“After so many folks sacrificed so much so that we could make our voices heard, so many of us just can’t be bothered,” she said.

Obama said that while some voters were “tuning out” and “staying home,” powerful interests are busy raising money to influence Washington.

Barack Obama took 96% of the black vote in 2008, and strong turnout among African-Americans and other minorities will be crucial if he hopes to win a second term, analysts say.

Surveys show that African-Americans attend church in higher numbers than white Americans do, and Democratic politicians have long made a habit of speaking from black pulpits in the leadup to Election Day. The AME Church has a general convention every four years.

The first lady also spoke of her husband on Thursday, telling the story of a photo hanging in the Oval Office that shows the president meeting a 5-year-old African-American boy at the White House three years ago.

White House photographers change the photos hanging in the West Wing ever couple of weeks, Michelle Obama said, except for that one.

“If you ever wonder whether change is possible in this country, I want you to think about that little black boy in the Oval Office of the White House touching the head of the first black president.”

She said blacks had to actively make good on their centuries-old legacy of political activism, mentioning names like Frederick Douglass and Rosa Parks.

“Today, the connection between our laws and our lives isn’t always as clear as it was 50 years or 150 years ago,” she said. “And as a result, it’s sometimes easy to assume that the battles in our courts and legislatures have all been won.”

In her speech, Obama promoted causes like investing in roads and schools, creating jobs and taking care of veterans.

“Our faith journey isn’t just about showing up on Sunday for a good sermon and good music and a good meal,” she said. “It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Christianity • Politics

soundoff (671 Responses)
  1. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,,

    June 29, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  2. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    First Lady Michelle Obama is correct! Too often the black community becomes complacent, lackadaisical and ignorant of their history and struggles of a people for racial equality and justice in America. A whole lot have changed for the better but unfortunately we still have ways to go because the re-emergency of the Tea Party and the divisiveness by conservatives in this country to undermine the Obama administration simply shows that Jim Crow is still alive and well here in the 21st century. As they say, those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. That is why we must be vigilant and not take our history for granted because after all, our freedom didn't come easily!

    June 29, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  3. Dr. C

    Out of place Lady!

    June 29, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Obamajoe

      Out of CNN D.C

      June 29, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  4. ziggy2

    OK, Michelle, are you going to show up in our mostly white neighborhood church? I think NOT.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • chubby rain

      She tried to, but your church's schedule is full with Bachmann, Perry, and Palin.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  5. Obamajoe

    Try to do something that is right,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,don't just hide in a cave and let other brainwashed voters control everything,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,it's wrong,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    When Jesus returns ,,,,,,,,,,those human of idiots will try to kill him again,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,and fake "Jesus lovers"are useless ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    June 29, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • sybaris

      uh, yeah. You need to read your bible book. This jesus guy already gave a time when he would return and it passed.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Obamajoe

      he came back once and found his disciples has no power in this world at all,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,so he checked "not mature" and left the chessze

      June 29, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  6. Evelyn Connaway

    Discussing the moral and social affairs of our country, should be discussed anyplace groups of people gather. They need to work together and talk about their right to vote, the people who they will be voting for and laws they will be voting on. The
    Church after services is a good place, as it is the only place many people gather at one time. Working class people are hampered in being able to have large gatherings where it is peaceful and quite. They are not mixing religion and politics, just
    as a place to discuss politics and the reason people should get involved and vote, it is their privilege and right we have all earned.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  7. Honey Badger Dont Care

    If that church wants to keep it's 401 (3)(c) status and enjoy tax exempt status then they should stay out of the political arena.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • StClown

      I was about to say the same exact thing.

      June 29, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Primewonk

      But the hundreds of churches that Palin, Bachman, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum, etc., spoke in are fine, right?

      Maybe I missed it, but can someone point out where the talibangelical tea baggers expressed equal outrage when the republicans did it?

      June 29, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  8. Obamajoe

    unite we stand ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    June 29, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Primewonk

      Unless you are poor, black, hispanic, liberal, gay, female, a post-birth infant, educated, or compassionate. Then the tea baggers tell you to go to hell, and get out of their country.

      June 29, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  9. palintwit

    When is Sarah Palin the Moron Supreme going to weigh in on the court's decision? I can hardly wait. I can hardly wait for my next colonoscopy, too.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Obamajoe

      Silly,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,why you do that ??????? you are brain washed by insurance company,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      June 29, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  10. Obamajoe

    Build a kingdom of GOD on planet earth,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    June 29, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • DCinAllen

      Actually – no. Kingdom of God is in heaven, and eventually in the NEW Heaven and NEW Earth. not current Earth. Make disciples though

      June 29, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Primewonk

      Not in my secular nation. Violates all kinds of zoning laws. Your can't build whole towns of half-way houses for mentally delusional folks willy-nilly.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Obamajoe

      Do you guys like the kingdom of Satan,,,,,,,,,,,,,,?????? 🙂

      June 29, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      What? So we can fight over who's god is king and gets to make the laws? No? And M. Obama is wrong, church has nothing to do with morality.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Obamajoe

      then,,,,,what's the purpose of a church ??????????

      June 29, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      To teach supersti.tion and religious dogma in the guise of morality.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Obamajoe

      If you never practice it ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,why the hek bother to learn ?????????

      June 29, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Practise what?

      June 29, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  11. Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

    Watch the South Park episode called "Dou-che and Turd". It pretty accurately describes our election process.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Obamajoe

      Brain washed voters,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,are not qualified to vote ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

      June 29, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  12. PantyRaid

    I think she's really a man...

    June 29, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • DCinAllen

      I think your response is really stupid.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Obamajoe

      Are you sure she is not a gay ????????

      June 29, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Me

      Jelous and incompetent, that is what I think you are!

      June 29, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Obamajoe

      Yes,,,,,,,,PantyRaid is that bad,,,,,,,,,,,,,I think so too:)

      June 29, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  13. Obamajoe

    God bless America,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    God bless President Obama,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    June 29, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  14. Obamajoe

    Vote for a good heart !

    Vote for Ron Paul !

    June 29, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  15. j

    Funny...they arent going to WHITE churches...

    June 29, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Primewonk

      You mean like when Bachmann, Gingrich, Perry, Santorum, etc. kept campaigning in white fundiot churches?

      Where, exactly, was your umbrage then?

      June 29, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  16. Victor

    Sorry Michelle! It's when politicians rule from a faithfull stand that our world is better, NOT the other way around. Obama has showned that his heart in in being a politician who will go against his own faith to secure votes. I have abandoned him. I will not be voting for Obama or Romney.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • chubby rain

      From a faithful stand? You mean like Iran's Ayatollah? He has a lot of faith, just not the same faith you have.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  17. mikle

    S. Court decision give presidency to Romney. Obama history after November. A bad history. Hope and change--Disaster and lier.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Are you kidding me? Obamacare was invented by Romney. Plus, most people are in favor of Obamacare.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Zeno B

      Yeah, The First Lady of Mooching wants 4 more years to live like a queen off the taxpayers money. Sure, fat a-s, coming right up!

      June 29, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • DCinAllen

      you response. make no sense. make hulk mad. hulk speak better. HULK SMASH!

      June 29, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Bob Barker

      *liar

      June 29, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  18. PG13

    Bad advice. She should know better. For one thing the churches could and should lose their tax exempt status if they indulge in politics.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Bob Barker

      No. Churches are not supposed to endorse a particular candidate or command its members to vote for a particular individual, but churches can, and should, motivate its members to be politically active and vote. African American churches were instrumental in motivating political activism during the civil rights era, and nothing has changed now. The Catholic Church speaks about abortion and birth control policy. The Mormon Church opposed gay marriage in California.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • Convoluted

      you are so right, this is where I like the separation of church and state..also with the money issues...god written all over the dollar and our coins...stop the fed...It's all about the agenda, no matter who is in office! Can we get a recount on it all?

      June 29, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  19. mikle

    Some say it's like car insurance. Wrong. Only if I own the car. If I don't i don't have to buy insurance. Obama care order all to buy.

    June 29, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Huebert

      No you can either buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty. The penalty for an individual starts at $95 for the first year, and increases to a maximum of $695. It's just a new tax that was described as a mandate because Obama didn't want to raise taxes. Even though raise taxes is exactly what he did.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      So think of the car as your body. Then what is the difference?

      June 29, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • DLM

      What you don't understand is that since Ronald Reagan's Law that was inacted in 1986, you HAVE been paying for everyone else's health care. That law enabled any person to seek medical care through the emergency room. No one is allowed to be turned away. As a registered nurse, I have taken care of several uninsured and even illegal immigrants, most of which will never be able to afford a $100,000.00 hospital bill out of pocket. Finally, the Affordable Care Act will make sure that almost everyone has insurance, and hospitals will now be reimbursed and prices will stop inflating.

      June 29, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  20. Amber

    Seperation of church and state. Duh!

    June 29, 2012 at 10:25 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.