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Bishop's Book Examines Issues Threatening Black Families

by Allie Martin and Jenni Parker
December 20, 2004
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(AgapePress) - A California pastor, nominated for U.S. Senate Chaplain last year by evangelist Billy Graham, has written a new book reflecting on issues that threaten the black community. One of these, the author points out, is a new, invisible system of slavery that is destroying the African American family.

Bishop George McKinney is pastor of St. Stephen's Church of God in Christ in San Diego and founder of the Southeast Counseling and Consulting Center in the same city. In addition to preaching and counseling, he is also the author of several books. In his latest work, The New Slavemasters, the versatile Bishop McKinney examines many of the contemporary problems faced by African American families and communities. He contends that many of these problems result from issues that have spiritual bondage at their roots.

The great grandson of a slave, McKinney has attained place of influence and prominence as an African American church leader, a successful businessman, a writer of books on theology and the modern church, and a spiritual advisor to several national leaders. The bishop has served on the National Commission against Pornography and worked with former Presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, George Bush and Bill Clinton, and he currently serves as a member of President Bush's National Prayer Team, an ecumenical group of religious leaders who have committed themselves to praying for the president on a daily basis.

But although some may point to him as an African American success story, the pastor of St. Stephen's laments the fact that so many members of the black community do not enjoy the access to the American dream that they should have. Although African Americans today have complete freedom, McKinney points out that, all too often, bitter influences are shattering their families. Drug addiction, racism, teen pregnancy, rage, gang violence, and pornography -- these are persistent plagues, perhaps especially in urban areas, the California pastor notes. However, he regards them as largely symptomatic.

McKinney points to basic selfishness as being among the biggest contributing factors to the decline not only of the black family, but of Western society as a whole. "The tragedy has been that somehow in our Western culture, and particularly in the inner city, the role and the importance of children in the family is somehow being lost," he says.

The author observes that adults today tend to focus on self-fulfillment and self-gratification rather than on emulating and passing down a model of self-sacrifice for the benefit of the young. "People are concerned about 'my happiness,'" he says, "and 'my satisfaction' and 'my pleasure.'" One of the sadder manifestations of this attitude, the minister points out, is the problem of absentee fathers.

McKinney asserts that the selfish abuse of freedom results in slavery to sin. "I am a strong advocate that God made us to exercise freedom in him," he says, "but that freedom is robbed from so many -- in every community -- by the spiritual bondage that manifests itself in terms of materialism, drug addiction, racism, and other kinds of destructive behavioral patterns and belief systems."

Bishop McKinney's is the author and co-author of several other books, including the best-selling Cross the Line: Reclaiming the Inner City for God," and he served as senior editor for The African American Devotional Bible, published by Zondervan. He has also been the recipient of multiple honors in the fields of religion and community service, including the Racial Reconciliation Man of the Year Award, presented by the National Association of Evangelists (NAE) in recognition of his numerous years of work toward racial unity.

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