There are probably few places in Indiana -- typically a Republican stronghold -- where you can hear a preacher stand in a church and say President Bush is going to hell, but it happened Monday in Indianapolis.
The Rev. Frederick D. Haynes III, pastor of an 8,000-member church in Dallas, told an applauding audience at Eastern Star Church that the Bush administration has been exposed "for the hypocrites they are" by abandoning the poor.
"Jesus is going to say, 'Inasmuch as you do to the least of these, you also did to me. Go to hell, George Bush,' " Haynes said, in a raucous crescendo to a fiery message met with a standing ovation from an afternoon crowd of nearly 200 people.
Haynes' fury was just one of the expressions of political concern voiced Monday during the first day of a two-day conference at Eastern Star called The National Dialogue and Revival for Social Justice in the Black Church.
Concluding tonight with a speech from the Rev. Al Sharpton, the conference is aimed at turning the public's attention to issues dear to the black community at a time when some leaders say moral issues are too often limited to abortion and same-sex marriage.
While the Eastern Star's audience may have liked what Rev. Haynes had to say, the IRS might think differently. The church might want to take a look at a letter the IRS sent to the All Saints Church in Pasadena, California after a minister delivered a sermon during the 2004 presidential election condemning Bush and urging parishioners to support Sen. John Kerry (D).
The Rev. Al Sharpton, a former Democratic presidential candidate, is also scheduled to speak at the event. He is renowned for engaging in race-based politics. He's also had an anti-Semitic past, having referred to Jews as "diamond merchants" and stood by as a supporter threatened to burn down a Jewish shopkeeper's store, who Sharpton called a "white interloper." One supporter in a crowd outside the man's shop set the store afire after Sharpton left, resulting in the killing of several people.
According to a supporter of Rep. Julia Carson (D), she also spoke at yesterday's event at Eastern Star church. Wilson Allen, in a comment posted on AI yesterday, said, "I was out today with incumbent Congresswoman Julia Carson where she was the invited keynote speaker at a major church conference on social justice at Eastern Star." He added, "She was warmly received."