A sign of the trending times: popular Democratic Newark Mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Cory Booker told the Washington Post that he doesn’t really care if people think he’s gay. From the Post:
It is to his “great dismay” that “I have not settled down with a life partner.” He tells a story about how, early in his tenure as mayor, as murders continued to mount, he ran bawling past the places where Newarkers had been shot. He called a pastor friend and told him how broken he felt. At the end of the conversation, Booker expected some spiritual advice.
“You need to get married,” the pastor said.
After that, Booker says, he started dating more—although, he clarifies, not with Arianna Huffington, with whom he was rumored to have been involved. But he has kept that part of his life private because he says he needs some sacred spaces.
“Because how unfair is it to a young lady to put them in the spotlight if they haven’t signed up for that yet?” he says. “And people who think I’m gay, some part of me thinks it’s wonderful. Because I want to challenge people on their homophobia. I love seeing on Twitter when someone says I’m gay, and I say, ‘So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight.’ ”
Booker—who is leading in the polls for the Oct. 16 special election—has been lauded as a hero and decried for mistakes and has benefited from his close friendship with openly gay MSNBC TV host Rachel Maddow, with whom he attended Stanford University. And Booker was well-received when he spoke Saturday at the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, admonishing his generation to pick up the torched passed on by their parents.
“You drink deeply from wells of freedom and liberty and opportunity you did not dig,” Booker recalled his father telling him. “The truth of the matter is, the dream still demands, the moral conscious of our country still calls us, that hope still needs heroes. ... We still have work to do.”
But while Booker repeatedly stands for LGBT rights and marriage equality, there’s another side of the man about which we know little—the church side about which Booker only hinted in the Post piece, a side that seems to inform his personal life and perhaps his politics, too.
Bruce Wilson, an expert researcher on the Religious Right who writes at Talk2Action.org, says Booker has extensive ties to the hard Religious Right. In an email to me Tuesday, Wilson cites his co-researcher Rachel Tabachnick’s work documenting how:
“One of the prominent pastors of Booker's longtime church, the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark (who has introduced Booker at at least one National Day of Prayer event that was held on the steps of Newark City Hall), is an apostle in the virulently anti-LGBTI International Coalition of Apostles and his colleagues include Cindy Jacobs, Bishop Harry Jackson, Lou Engle, Ed Silvoso, and Bishop Julius Oyet—who claims to have helped conceive Uganda's Anti Homosexuality Bill and even picked David Bahati to introduce it in Uganda's Parliament.
Booker's Newark church, Metro Baptist, recently hosted a conference for this—the extreme, anti-LGBTI Christian right faction—a conference headed by Apostle Ed Silvoso, who, as I have documented, has a favorite anecdote he tells in mega-churches from Jacksonville, Florida to Singapore, about a gay man from San Francisco who kidnaps children for use a sex slaves.
Silvoso also promotes the "gay demon" thing.
Here’s an excerpt from one of Tabachnick’s pieces:
David Jefferson, Jr., senior pastor of Metropolitan Baptist Church in Newark, endorsed Cory Booker's candidacy in a video released by his senate campaign in early August as part of the "Voices for Cory" series. The evangelistic outreach pastor at Metropolitan Baptist is Apostle Bernard Wilks, who has led and organized municipal events, and is head of Transformation Newark. Wilks has called for the return of the city to Puritan Newark's guidelines allowing only "Christian believers" to vote or hold leadership roles in the city. The significance of this is not just it's shock value, but in understanding the symbiosis of the school privatization and extreme "free marketers" funding Booker, and the Religious Right leaders who redirect the frustration and anger of those most impacted by our current economic structure. For more on the role of Wilks' Transformation Newark see a previous article.....
Wilks is an apostle in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), apostolic covering for Transformation Newark and Pray for Newark. He is also a member of the International Coalition of Apostles. This phenomenon of NAR networks infiltrating existing churches can be seen all over the country. Communities across the nation are being introduced to the "Transformation" agenda of Ed Silvoso, founder of International Transformation Network and described in more detail in this article. The Global Day of Prayer is an outgrowth of ITN and its transformation campaign. The city transformation plan calls for merger of church and state and a mandate for control by born-again Christians over society and government. Newark has become a model for this effort or a "detonator city" as described by Wilks and other Transformation leaders.
Wilson writes: “This is the same movement, known broadly as the New Apostolic Reformation, which is a driving force behind the anti-gay crusade in Uganda and which has played a role in what's going on in Russia, as well.” And the movement wants to do the same in California as they claim to have done in Newark:
Additionally, Wilson notes that Booker is invested in the school privatization movement, which became a part of the recent Los Angeles municipal elections when Booker’s friend New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg helped finance a candidate backed by controversial school “reformer” Michelle Rhee against Steve Zimmer in the LAUSD race. Wilson writes:
Booker has been a stalwart in the school privatization movement and attends conferences, and has for years, with leaders of the religious right pushing school privatization, which is the real goal.
While the religious right is losing on same sex marriage in many states, it's winning almost everywhere on privatization, and so now, in well over a dozen states across the country, state funds are now flowing to fundamentalist private schools many of which, as a January report from the Southern Education Foundation (covered by the NYT) showed, have explicit anti-LGBTI policies.
Sounds like Cory Booker—who will likely become the next U.S. Senator from New Jersey—should at least answer some questions from the Beltway and hometown press on the “Pray for Newark” crusade, the separation of church and state and what he thinks should be done regarding education reform.