Andrew Yang sang with a black church choir. Not everyone said ‘Amen’

January 27, 2020 From CNN

As the Rev. Wendy Hamilton was leaving Union Missionary Baptist Church in Waterloo, Iowa, she turned to see some commotion in the choir.

“I looked up and said, ‘Is Andrew up there singing with them? I guess we’re not leaving yet. Ok, Amen!'”
What happened next went viral, because Andrew is Andrew Yang, the longshot, “I’ll try almost anything” Democratic presidential candidate. Nearly 2 million people have viewed a clip of Yang singing and swaying with the choir on Sunday. Nearly as many seemed to have opinions about it.
Some prominent black leaders laughed, rolled their emoji eyes or posted memes of Forrest Gump fumbling through a gospel song. Some accused Yang of pandering. One said it was more “cute than cringe” while joking that an “official ruling” would be issued after next the “black people conference.”
The episode is a reminder that religious communities have lots of rituals and rules, many of them unspoken and inscrutable to outside eyes — including presidential candidates.
Whether it’s Yang putting on a choir robe, Donald Trump dropping money in the Communion plate or Bernie Sanders reportedly ignoring volunteers while visiting a black church in South Carolina, candidates are scrutinized for how well they understand and respect those rituals.
Non-verbal cues, like how comfortable a candidate seems while visiting a church, can be more important than policy prescriptions.
Churches, especially black churches, are places where people can lay their burdens down and be their true selves, said the Rev. Leah Daughtry, a prominent pastor who has advised candidates on reaching religious voters.
“We want to see if you are comfortable with us being who we are.”
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