Rooftop Revelations: Politics cannot uplift a community. But faith can
ROOFTOP REVELATIONS: Day 47 with Pastor Corey Brooks
CHICAGO – One thing that has been abysmally clear for decades is that government policies – from local to federal – have failed impoverished, gang-infested areas such as the South Side of Chicago.
When Lori Lightfoot ran for mayor as a Democratic candidate, she criticized her fellow Democrat and the sitting mayor, Rahm Emanuel, for “lacking a real, comprehensive plan to make a sustainable reduction in violence.” More than two years of Lightfoot’s anti-violence talk resulted in a horrific 836 homicides in 2021, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office — the highest homicide toll in 25 years.
This cycle, spinning for over 60 years now, will spin itself once again in the next mayoral election as new candidates attack the sitting mayor’s failure and propose their own solutions that will likely fail too.
Pastor Corey Brooks saw the writing on the wall when it came to Democrat politicians. In 2014, he announced his vote for the Republican candidate for governor. The backlash was swift: He lost more than half of his congregation and moved his family to another location to escape death threats. Yet he never backed down.
For the pastor, this move toward conservatism was not about politics but faith. He followed the Black church’s civil rights tradition of seeing political values that aligned closely with his Christian faith. The conservative values of personal responsibility, hard work and faith in one’s fellow man resonated with what the pastor preached every Sunday.
But politics and policies alone cannot uplift a community. The Republican candidate who eventually became the Illinois governor failed to make much of a dent in the pastor’s community. Perhaps that is why the pastor is fond of saying that government can legislate laws and policies, but it cannot change the hearts of the people. But faith can.
On the 47th night of his 100-day rooftop vigil to build a community center designed to transform lives, the pastor decided to release the second part of his conversation with Pastor Gil Monrose that was recorded weeks ago. Monrose heads the GodSquad, a faith-based organization in Brooklyn that relies on clergy to lessen tensions within the community and to act as a liaison between its people and the police.
“How do you believe that faith fills the gap when it comes to working in these areas of violence?” Brooks asked.
Monrose replied: “I think that politicians are called to make policies and pastors are called to people. And because we are called to people, we are definitely concerned about the policies that politicians make. You can’t do policy on money. You can’t do it on favoritism. It must be about the people.”
“Jesus said something that we should all remember,” Monrose continued. “He said, ‘The poor you will always have among you.’ And so his work and his daily life was around the poor.”
Unlike many politicians today, Jesus walked among the poor. For Monrose, this imbued Jesus with the ability to see into the souls of the people and help them in a way that empowered them.
Brooks nodded in agreement. Every day he sees with his own eyes how policies have created a paralyzing dependency on the government teat that is the root of many social ills, including violence.
“For me, faith is so important because without God’s presence, without that godly work, it’s empty,” Brooks said. “My faith is what pushes me into action. It’s what causes me to love people.”
He then asked Monrose if that faith is what was needed to make true changes.
“The faith we’re talking about must propel us to action. You can’t have faith without movement,” Monrose said.
For him, faith was the spark within the hearts of people that creates purpose and meaning in life. Faith generates personal agency within humans and gives them that universal desire and courage to better their own lives, even during the bleakest of times.
“There is no time in the Bible where you have seen that there were individuals who had faith and were [at a] standstill, in the sense of not moving forward,” Monrose said. “So our faith must propel us based on what the word of God is saying to us. It must move us [from] a place of where we are to a place of where we need to go.”
Over 25 years ago, the South Side landscape was a godforsaken place dominated by violence, drugs and public housing. Brooks then moved his church and his family to the Woodlawn neighborhood. Years later, he opened up the Project H.O.O.D. community center on the second floor of his church.
Today, his neighborhood no longer ranks among the most violent in Chicago, and it is safe to say that the pastor and his message of faith, personal responsibility and hard work have made far more changes than all of the empty promises from politicians. This should not come as a surprise though, since the pastor walks among his people and with an open heart.
Follow along as Fox News checks in Pastor Corey Brooks each day with a new Rooftop Revelation.
For more information, please visit Project H.O.O.D.
Eli Steele is a documentary filmmaker and writer. His latest film is “What Killed Michael Brown?” Twitter: @Hebro_Steele.
Camera by Terrell Allen.
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