msnbc | September 19, 2012
music: that lights when it nears you.*
>>> as election day nears the battle for the right to vote is being complicated by matters of faith. in this case, some african-americans say they're being urged by their clergy to stay home on election day rather than vote for either president obama or mitt romney . given the tightness of this race it's an unnerving message for both sides. the reverend a.r. bernard founder of the christian cultural center in brooklyn, new york and joins me to talk about this. good to have you here. you say a recent ap story on this subject misquoted you, implying that you were instructing people from the pulpit not to vote.
>> that is correct. the associated press article placed me in the company of a handful of african-american pastors who are advocating not voting. let me give you three powerful reasons why i would never tell my congregation not to vote. the right to vote is to be cherished and exercised and i would never say don't vote.
>> when we look at the context of that article, though, there are certain pastors that are telling the flock that mitt romney really doesn't represent them and certainly you can't vote for him and that president obama 's stance on marriage equality could be a red flag to make people stay home. what is your message to people out there who are conflicted by faith, but want to be involved with the electorate?
>> again, i don't think there's any one candidate in the history of this country who totally and completely reflect the values of any one religious institution or organization. but, we still have a responsibility to vote. and if you don't like romney's position, don't let same-sex marriage be the deciding factor with regard to voting for barack obama .
>> when it comes to instructive politics in church, a lot of people do learn their politics from the pulpit, true?
>> yeah. you know, we need to make it clear distinction. when we talk about separation of church and state , the state, when we talk about civil rights , all right, in relationship to the state, civil rights has to do with insuring one's ability to participate in the social and political life of a society. without discrimination or reprengs. so for the greater society, all right, this community, socio political community, the same-sex marriage issue is a civil rights issue but for the church, it's not a civil rights issue, it's a moral issue. more reality has to do with right and wrong behavior based on a code of conduct . the tenants of our faith clearly determine life-styles we should live. for the church it's a moral issue, not a civil rights issue.
>> so when people were talking about the fact and using in the '60s interracial marriage was against biblical teachings was that a moral failure of the church.
>> no, no. absolutely not.
>> how are the two comparative today?
>> marrying someone who is an opposite sex , who happens to be another race, all right, i wouldn't compare that to the same thing as marrying someone of the same sex. let me say this to you, all right, because i believe people have to choose the right to choose what they want. that's what makes us an american society who we are. i have a responsibility to live up to the tenants of my faith and if my faith says that there are certain boundaries and restrictions and roles we occupy, then i don't claim to have a full understanding of the deep subject of human sexuality but understanding is not prerec quissy to obedience to the tenants of my faith. i obey them and try to understand and work through the realities of life.
>> in '08 you support president obama .
>> this time around the only one that's convincing me to vote for obama is mitt romney .
>> all right. sir, thanks so