On October 19-20, 2020, CURE held its annual National Policy Summit at the historic Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. Due to COVID restrictions, we limited in-person attendance to a small group of CURE board members and Clergy Council members, with the rest of our Clergy Network attending online. We regret that many of our dear friends could not be with us in person. But we believe we speak for everyone when we say that, despite the circumstances, this year’s Policy Summit was a resounding success. It was a unique event that brought together worship, prayer, and fellowship among the body of Christ with intellectually stimulating discussion about the policy issues facing Black America.
On Monday, following a luncheon, opening remarks by Star Parker, and a welcome from Katherine Gorka on behalf of the Heritage Foundation (Summit sponsor), the summit began with a presentation by U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, M.D., M.P.H. VADM Adams, who tuned in virtually, talked about how he perceives his role in protecting public health and addressed common concerns about the impending coronavirus vaccine. He then responded at length to several questions from the audience. VADM Adam’s warmth and candor provided a refreshing contrast to the distrust, divisiveness, and partisanship that often characterize public discourse around the coronavirus.
Next, Dr. William B. Allen, the Chief Coordinating Officer of CURE, spoke on the theme of this year’s summit: “The State of Black America.” Dr. Allen laid out the vision for CURE’s newly launched research and writing initiative of the same name. In 2021, this initiative will produce a comprehensive analysis of the economic, social, cultural, educational, criminal justice, and religious conditions of contemporary life for Black Americans. Dr. Allen also played a speech by Tom Klingenstein, the chairman of the Claremont Institute and the sponsor of the “State of Black America” initiative, on the mixed blessing of Donald Trump’s presidency.
Following his presentation, Dr. Allen led an hour of open prayer for America. Pastors and board members joined in harmony, singing hymns and fervently interceding for our nation and its leaders. It was a rich time of fellowship in the Holy Spirit. Next, CURE Vice President Robert Borens joined us virtually from Israel to present a policy paper entitled “Marriage and the Family: Why it Matters, What We Can Do.” The paper outlines the recent breakdown in America of traditional marriage and family structure and suggests a link with the decline in religious belief. As a result of these developments, the federal government expands to fill the void left by faith and family—with disastrous societal consequences.
After dinner, La Shawn Barber, Senior Editor of Black Community News, virtually presented an award to Cliff Brotherton for winning this year’s first-ever BCN Essay Contest. The prompt for the contest: “What good have Neo-progressives done for the Black man?” Upon receiving the award, Mr. Brotherton made a statement expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to join in CURE’s mission. Dr. Allen announced that CURE will partner with Diamond Mind Foundation in sponsoring an expanded writing contest in 2021, aimed at creative expression looking toward a future in which the country has overcome its persistent shortcomings. The prompt: “It’s 2070. Over 50 years ago a movement called BLM was highly visible and socially dominating. Now it exists only in the history books. Its agenda has won/lost – depending on your creative imagination. Write a short story, in which we will follow multi-dimensional characters through a segment of their lives, as we learn what the USA is like, what it looks like? What does the rest of the world look like? Are all children thriving? Why or why not?”
This ceremony was followed by our keynote speaker, Jack Brewer, a former NFL player who is now a well-known national commentator and political conservative. Brewer shared how he came to a strong Christian faith after years of waywardness and spoke about the “root cause” of America’s troubles. His nation-wide prison ministries and community education efforts address that “root cause” of moral and religious neglect and political exploitation. Afterwards, the pastors gathered around Mr. Brewer as his brothers and sisters in Christ to pray a blessing on his life and ministry.
Bright and early on Tuesday morning, CURE Chairman Marc Little preached a sermon on the role of the church. He exhorted the American church to speak with authority over the culture. He reminded us that Jesus calls the church not to conform to the world, but to boldly condemn evil and defend righteousness. Pastor Little then opened the floor for questions and comments. In response, many shared personal stories of their efforts to influence politics and culture and spoke of God’s miraculous provision in their lives. Next, Dr. Allen moderated a more formal discussion session, beginning with remarks by CURE Vice Chair T.W. Shannon. In closing, Dr. Allen spoke on the importance of engaging in politics with patience and humility, caring less about winning than about acting nobly, even in the face of loss.
After lunch, Dr. Allen moderated a colloquium between two young professionals on opposite sides of the political spectrum: Rakim Brooks, a successful lawyer and a strategist for the American Civil Liberties Union; and John Wood, Jr., former vice-chairman of the Republican Party of Los Angeles County and a national spokesperson for the bipartisan organization Braver Angels. Dr. Allen posed a question to Brooks and Wood: is there a place for Black Americans in the future of our nation? This question, Dr. Allen suggested, must be the foundation for our thinking about the education of tomorrow’s youth. Brooks and Wood held a lively, reasoned discussion of the question that highlighted both the continuities and the tensions in their thinking.
Star Parker wrapped up the summit with a presentation on Black America’s economic future. Star shared a wealth of data on Black Americans’ economic progress and analyzed the steps that must still be taken on behalf of those stuck in poverty. She then gave the floor to Dr. Robert Cristiano, a Georgetown professor of real estate who helps churches utilize their fallow property for community development initiatives such as affordable senior housing. Dr. Cristiano graciously explained in detail how the development process works. He also answered questions from audience members interested in applying the process to their own churches and communities.
Finally, Star updated the audience on recent growth and upcoming developments at CURE. She expressed her excitement about CURE’s ongoing work and her thanks to those who make it possible. After one last meal, an informal time of singing and prayer served as a beautiful benediction for our two days together.