Black Churches Seek to Register One Million Voters on Easter

Leaders of the “Empowerment Movement” have challenged every Black church in the U.S. to register at least 20 people on the holiday. 

Posted: 03/12/2012 02:19 PM EDT

Easter Sunday in the Black community is a day in which that even skeptics attend church. This year, African-American pastors have a goal of not only delivering the Word to those frequenting the pews, but also registering one million new voters.

In light of recent battles over voter ID laws, which civil rights leaders say disenfranchise the poor, elderly and citizens of color, several prominent Black pastors have challenged every Black church in the U.S. to register at least 20 people on Easter, as a part of a new Empowerment Movement initiative.

The faith-based voting initiative unveiled earlier this month is designed to bring together leaders of all denominations and move the African-American community “forward in politics, education and economics with the use of Christian principles.”

There are an estimated 500,000 Black churches in America, and over five million unregistered voters inside the Black church. During a recent closed-door summit to strategize how the church could prepare for the November elections, representatives of leading Black Christian organizations met. The result is the Empowerment Movement.

The AME Church, AME Zion, COGIC, Progressive, Bible Way Churches, Full Gospel, Gospel Music Workshop of America, CME, United Covenant Churches, Harvest Churches, Fellowship of International Christian Word of Faith Ministries and Church of God are just some of the organizations in support of the movement.

Someone also in support of the movement is Rev. Dr. Jamal Harrison Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, Maryland. Bryant was appointed as president of the new, non-partisan organization and has more than 8,000 members at his church and approximately 35,000 followers on Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Some say he is one of many of a new breed of ministers who embrace the internet to help spread the gospel.

"God is not just in the church; He is also in technology," he says.

Bryant believes he has a mission to "empower people spiritually, develop them educationally, expose them culturally, activate them politically, and strengthen them economically."

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(Photo: Jan Cook/Getty Images)

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