I wondered where our clergy has been. No prayers in the home. No prayers ont he corner. Darn shame I had to go all the way to the International Herald Tribune to find this article.
CHICAGO: A group of black ministers who supported U.S. Sen. Roland Burris as he fought to get his job now plan to ask for his resignation following revelations that he tried to raise money for the disgraced governor who appointed him to the Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama, one of the ministers told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Many of the city's influential black pastors supported Burris because of his scandal-free reputation even though he was appointed by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich three weeks after the governor was arrested for allegedly trying to sell the Senate seat.
Now some of those pastors will ask Burris to resign, according to the minister, who spoke on condition of anonymity because a meeting with Burris had not yet been scheduled.
Clergy Speaks Interdenominational, an umbrella group that includes hundreds of Chicago's black churches, will meet Friday to discuss its support for Burris, spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said. For now, the group still supports him and its leaders are unaware of discussions about asking him to resign, she said.
Burris spokesman Jim O'Connor would not say whether the senator would meet with ministers, and referred to a statement from Burris asking that leaders "stop the rush to judgment."
Burris testified before the Illinois House committee that recommended Blagojevich's impeachment in January that he hadn't had contact with key Blagojevich staffers or offered anything in return for the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.
Last weekend, however, Burris released an affidavit saying he had spoken to several Blagojevich advisers, including Robert Blagojevich, the former governor's brother and finance chairman, who Burris said called three times last fall asking for fundraising help. Burris, a former state attorney general, changed his story again this week when he admitted trying, unsuccessfully, to raise money for Blagojevich.
Illinois lawmakers have asked local prosecutors to look into perjury charges, and a preliminary U.S. Senate Ethics Committee inquiry is under way. Burris denies lying under oath and has resisted a growing chorus of calls for his resignation, including from within his own party.
Burris is the only black U.S. senator, as Obama was when he was in the Senate. Blacks were among his biggest defenders as Burris overcame Senate leaders' resistance to admitting a senator appointed by a man charged with trying to sell the office.
Current sentiment in the black community is not unanimous, but the clergy's silence as the maelstrom of criticism swells around Burris "speaks volumes," said another minister, Ira Acree, of the Greater St. John Bible Church.
"I'm a little disturbed, but because of his track record, don't want to rush to judgment," Acree said Thursday. "But neither will I attempt to defend his actions."
Burris' latest revelations are "making the black community just as suspicious of him as anyone else," said the Rev. Leonard Barr of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church.
But Burris deserves a chance to defend himself and should not step down, he said.
"I think he can do the job," Barr said. "He would be a good senator and a conscientious senator."
People who have supported Burris are torn between feelings of anger and betrayal and a desire to keep the only black senator in the country, said Laura S. Washington, a politics professor at DePaul University and columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.
"They're disappointed, embarrassed and worried that the seat will be in jeopardy," Washington said.
Edward Bogan, a 58-year-old printer from Chicago, said he doesn't buy Burris' explanation for not telling the House impeachment committee about all his contacts with the Blagojevich administration.
"If your memory is that bad, why do we need you in there?" said Bogan, who is black. "... If you're only going to remember the part that benefits you, what good are you?"
But Chicago resident and real estate counselor Danyelle Hall, 37, says plenty of African-Americans still support Burris.
"I think that he would've been more forthcoming if the appropriate questions were asked," by the committee, said Hall. "That didn't happen and that's not his fault."
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