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Michael Allen, pastor of Uptown Baptist Church in Chicago and a North American Mission Board missionary, prays with Denise Davis, chief of staff for a Chicago city alderman. Photo courtesy of the North American Mission Board

Defying odds, Chicago Christians get political

You wouldn’t necessarily think of Chicago as a center of organized Christian political activism. It’s not part of the Bible belt, is one of the largest and most liberal urban areas in the nation, and it’s politics–well–are legend for “concrete boots” and stolen ballots. Think 1960 presidential election.

That may be about to change as believers there begin to mobilize for what may be the first time.

Nearly 71 percent of Chicago residents identify as Christian and eight out of 10 of them plan to vote in this year’s election for a new mayor.

As current Democrat Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is set to leave, voters are beginning to voice their concerns about what is going on in their city. From the corruption infused process on where to locate the Obama Presidential Library, to the bullying of neighborhood groups by political groups associated with the Obamas, Christians on both sides of the political aisle have had enough.

Then there’s the murder rate.

Pastor Michael Allen oversees Uptown Church in Chicago. He’s also the co-founder of Together Chicago, a nonprofit group that is working to bring about major changes to the windy city.

“Gun violence in the city of Chicago continues to plague our city,” Allen said in an interview with CBN  News.

He went on to say that the issue of broken families is also a big problem.

“I believe that broken families lead to a lot of the crime and poverty that we see in our city,” he said, noting that Christian voter turnout will be critical as the city looks to elect a new leader.

“We believe that if the Church really does come together around the values that we hold near and dear to our hearts and choose the candidate that best upholds those values or align with those values, we’re going to see a major change in the political scene here in Chicago,” said Allen.

Allen said the city needs a leader who understands the root of the problems facing the Windy City.

“You can’t really solve problems unless you know what the root problem is,” he said.  “And so we need a leader that is able to be above the political fray in terms of the corruption that is rife in Chicago politics and Illinois state politics, one that can’t be bought by special interests.”

Allen believes movements of prayer followed by action are paving the way to true change in the city.

“For the last five years, God has raised up a movement of prayer in the city that has historically been so segregated in so many ways and separated by race and class and geography and denomination, and it’s a movement started called Pray Chicago, which is now Chicagoland United in Prayer, and that’s underneath the banner of Together Chicago,” explained Allen.

“And so, we’re seeing God bring people from the north side, the south side, the west side, as well as from various ethnic groups, socio-economic groups and denominational groups to cross those boundaries, to set aside those labels and to come together as one body of Christ to pray together,” he continued.

“And out of that prayer, we began seeing people asking well ‘What can we do besides prayer?'” he said. “And that’s how Together Chicago was born, in terms of saying in addition to our prayers, ‘let’s seek God to be the answers to those prayers to cooperate together for collective impact across our city.'”

The mayoral election takes place Feb. 26.

–Metro Voice and wire services