By Nova Safo, CNN
Follow on Twitter: @nova_safo
Chicago, Illinois (CNN) - L. Bernard Jakes, the pastor at West Point Baptist Church, has come out in support of a gay marriage bill in the Illinois legislature. He has the support of a majority of his congregation, but not of his fellow pastors.
[2:15] “I’ve definitely been criticized. There are many that have bastardized me, said that I was going to hell on social media. There was even one radio station that encouraged their listeners to call here to the church and tell me I was going to hell.”
The Illinois senate approved a gay marriage bill in February, but it has gotten stalled in the house, where it is short of having enough votes to pass. Legislators are expected to take up the measure again in the fall, and the traditionally liberal black caucus in the state house has emerged as an important voting block.
Caucus members are facing pressure from black pastors both in favor and opposed to gay marriage, even though only two of the caucus’ legislators have so far come out in support of gay marriage.
The caucus’ importance, and the public role black pastors are playing in the gay marriage debate, has brought to light the conflict within black churches and African-American communities over gay marriage and civil rights.
The issue is taboo at many churches, said Rev. Jakes, where pastors may quietly support gay marriage but dare not go public:
[5:53] “Many of them came and whispered in my ear: I support you man. But they won’t come out publicly, because you will be ostracized.”
Listen to our story above to find out more about the debate over civil rights and gay rights within the African-American church, and learn more about the historical context that is affecting today’s debate. Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher. And listen to CNN Soundwaves on our SoundCloud page.