Ministers: Meeks Shouldn't Have to Give Up Pulpit for City Hall

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Reverend James Meeks
    A state senator and a powerful politician with a large black following, including the 20,000 members of his Salem Baptist Church.

    Area pastors came together Sunday to defend the idea that they can hold political office while leading a congregation.

    Almost a dozen faith leaders appeared at City Hall to support the Rev. James Meeks' run for mayor. They say it's wrong for anyone to call on him to give up the pulpit at his 20,000-member Salem Baptist Church in order to run for office.

    "To force a pastor to give up his church in order to run for mayor is dead wrong and clearly imposes a double standard," the Rev. Ira Acree, of St. James Bible Church, said in a statement.

    However, another high-profile African American leader, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, brushed aside the idea that Meeks could run his church and the city at the same time.

    "You can't be the CEO of two corporations. You've got to be the CEO of one. You've got to have singular focus. The city's problems are just too monumental. This is 24/7," Rush told the Sun-Times.

    Although he hasn't officially launched a bid for mayor, Meeks has been working to build a consensus of supporters out of Chicago's myriad communities. In response to concerns about his statements that homosexuality is "an evil sickness," Meeks met privately with leaders in the LGBT community last week.