Can James Meeks "Serve Two Masters?"
By Chuck Sudo in News on Oct 11, 2010 2:40PM
The Rev. James Meeks raised the hackles of some local politicians last week when he said that he would not step down as the minister of his Salem Baptist Church if he was elected Mayor next spring. Saying that stepping down was "non-negotiable," Meeks said he could run both the church and carry out the duties of mayor. Some critics, such as 34th Ward Alderman Carrie Austin, countered that Meeks has to consider stepping down, citing the grueling responsibilities of being mayor and saying that doing both is a violation of the Constitution's separation of church and state. Although, to our knowledge, none of these folks ever raised that issue during Rev. Meeks's tenure as a State Senator.
Yesterday, Meeks's fellow pastors got his back, stating in a gathering outside City Hall that Meeks could indeed carry out both jobs. It was an expected endorsement of Meeks as he makes the rounds to become the "consensus black candidate" for mayor. With his 22,000 parishioners at Salem Baptist, Meeks could also play a spoiler role if he isn't the consensus black candidate and could be positioning himself into a position of counsel the next mayor can't ignore.