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Black faith leaders worry Biden is on 'wrong side of history' in Gaza

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale and other faith leaders want President Biden to push harder for a cease-fire in Gaza.
Black faith leaders worry Biden is on 'wrong side of history' in Gaza
Posted at 5:20 PM, Jan 30, 2024

A coalition of Black faith leaders is now pressuring President Biden to press Israel to stop its offensive in Gaza. More than 1,000 Black pastors have issued that demand.

The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, leader of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Georgia, spoke with Scripps News about what she and other leaders want the Biden administration to do differently.

"What we would like to see Biden do is to immediately call for a cease-fire in Gaza," Rev. Hale said. "We understand and surely grieve with the people of Israel who lost 1,200 persons after Hamas attacked them. And we also understand their need to protect themselves. But we also know that now some 27,000 people in Gaza have been killed, 10,000-plus children. People are literally living on the streets."

"What we want the president to do is to call for an immediate cease-fire and permanent peace in the region," Hale said. "We believe that he has that kind of influence. And we'd like the Congress to join with him."

SEE MORE: Negotiators close in on a hostage deal that would pause war in Gaza

The Black vote has been crucial for President Biden. The 2020 endorsement from U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn ahead of the South Carolina primary gave his campaign important momentum from Black voters in the state. This year, just days before the state's 2024 primary, ads featuring Rep. Clyburn are airing again.

But Rev. Hale said sentiment, particularly among Black congregations, is shifting.

"Members of my congregation and indeed congregations all across this nation have already begun to say 'We are not voting for Biden,'" Hale said. "And as members of the clergy, we have worked in the past to help presidents or candidates who are seeking election or reelection — we move the people in such a way that they have been elected. I don't know that that is going to happen this time. We are hearing from too many people that Biden is on the wrong side of history, and people take this seriously. And so I'm not sure that even those of us who are committed to democracy here in the United States of America will be able to move the people to ensure that Biden is reelected."

"We recognize the fact that the alternative is not what we want," Hale said. "But we certainly want to keep the pressure on the president because we don't want the president or anyone, the Democrats, to think that we'll just come along with them no matter what. No, our demands are serious because our demands are really about justice and equality for all people — and in this instance, especially the people of Gaza."

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