Mr. Biden, especially, has recognized the importance of the Black church. One of his first campaign events of 2024 took place at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. in Charleston, S.C., on Jan. 8, making him the first sitting president to speak from the church’s storied pulpit. When protesters interrupted his speech with calls for a cease-fire, their cries were drowned out by shouts of “Four more years!”
Mr. Biden’s campaign did not comment on the record for this article.
Some leaders say Mr. Biden still has time to change the trajectory of the conflict abroad and, in turn, recover any love lost between his administration and Black voters.
“As long as Blacks feel that the president is being genuine, I think he will continue to have our support,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who presides over more than 500 African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia. He, too, signed the letter calling for a cease-fire and the return of hostages. “I think he’s demonstrating his authenticity by the friction that you can tell is between him and Netanyahu as relates to what’s going on in the Middle East,” he said, referring to Israel’s prime minister.
Still, six Black faith leaders who spoke with The New York Times said they or their colleagues had considered rescinding invitations to Democratic politicians hoping to speak during their Sunday services, or withholding public support for Mr. Biden’s re-election until his administration committed to a cease-fire.
“What they are witnessing from the administration in Gaza is a glaring contradiction to what we thought the president and the administration was about,” said the Rev. Frederick D. Haynes, the senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas and the president and chief executive of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the civil rights organization founded by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. His church has more than 12,000 members. “So when you hear a president say the term, ‘redeem the soul of America,’ well, this is a stain, a scar on the soul of America. There’s something about this that becomes hypocritical.”