It was decidedly a podium, and he pulled no political punches during his address at the 26th annual prayer breakfast Saturday.
Crowley, a former Roman, told the audience that he couldn’t say everything he wanted from behind the pulpit because of the 501-c3 nonprofit status of his church but that religious leaders should be allowed to talk about their political views when not in the sanctuary.
“It’s my belief that you can not be a preacher in the Christian tradition and not be involved in politics,” Crowley said. “Jesus was the greatest political revolutionary to walk on the face of the earth ... How are you going to be a preacher and not talk about what’s going on in the economy? All you talk about is God is going to bless you and God is going to come up with a miracle. No. God wants you to get out there and figure out why equality is not taking place.”
For instance, Crowley tied Psalm 23 — “As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil for I know the Lord is with Me” — to current day politics.
“Death in this low place, and often times when there is death there is a stench,” he explained. “Where there is death there are mindless bodies doing nothing but decaying.”
“Sound like some of our churches, doesn’t it? Sounds like the government, doesn’t it? Sounds like some of our educational systems, where you have wealthy folks deciding how to educate poor folks without taking into consideration that we learn differently than white folk?” Crowley continued.
Along with criticism toward America’s education system, Crowley also attacked the decades old War on Drugs and sentencing guidelines providing harsher penalties for possession of crack cocaine versus powdered cocaine and against voter ID laws. Specfically, Crowley said that voter ID laws disenfranchised lower income voters without state-regulated identification.
However, Crowley saw hope for the future of destroying racism in America, because though he says there is still plenty of work to do to bring about equality, they have a strong voice to look back on for inspiration.
“He could do this because Dr. King did not live in fear,” Crowley said. “Fear was not the driving force in Dr. King’s decision-making process. And even though they threatened to kill him, he didn’t fear.”
Crowley became a spiritual leader at the age of 14 under the Rev. Carey Ingram at Lovejoy Baptist in South Rome. He has since moved to Massachusetts where he now leads his own flock at the historic Myrtle Baptist and is attending Harvard University’s divinity school.
Along with Crowley, prayer breakfast attendees were entertained by the MLK Jr. Youth Choir and a solo by Gary Watters.