"The church ought to see to it that Christian men and women are put in public office," the Rev. Dr. Raymond R. Robinson said to chorus of "Amens."
"The church ought tos see to it that those (officeholders) who don't qualify should be removed," he continued.
Robinson, pastor of the Israel Baptish Church at 632 11th St. NE, made the remarks last week at the starat of a two-evening seminar on churches and politics. The seminar was sponsored by the Committee of 100 Ministers, a coalition of black clergymen currently chaired by Robinson.
"For a long time, the sleeping giant of the church has been too little concerned about politics," Robinson told a gathering of about 200 men and women - lay members and clergy - who had gathred at Asbury United Methodist Church for the seminar.
"Church folks have had a feeling that politics is dirty, that the church should keep its lily white hands from getting soiled by politics," Robinson said.
The Committee of 100 Ministers has been operating for many years precisely to direct the influence of the clergy on the political process. The new aspect of last week's seminar was the effort to expand that influence by involving the lay men and women.
"We won't deal with any candidates at the seminar. What we are concerned about is the issues," Robinson said.
In one of five workshop groups, the Rev. Dr. Cecil Bishop, minister of the John Wesley AME Zion Church at 1615 14th St. NW, laid the biblical and theological base for Christian involvement in politics.
The Christian, he explained, lives in the city of man but also "lives under the ruld of God. . . . He can't avoid the judgements of the God of justice, mercy and peace."
That means, he continued, "that we as church persons must come to realize anew that the church is the institution of God to be used in a prophetic way to speak God's judgment to the city."
But in order to do that, "the church must know the issues," he said. "We must know the issues and speak for God in the light of these issues."
Other workshops were geared more toward practical political action.
In one group, the Rev. Warren G. Crudup, minister of St. Paul Temple Church of God in Christ at 3420 16th St. NE, explained the need for congregations to understand how to gather information on issues and the candidates, including voting record of incumbents. He gave room numbers, addresses and phone numbers of agencies that have such information.
"We need to tell our people what a bill looks like, for example," he said, passing around sample City Council bills. "They need to know where to go in the city government to find out what voting records are."
In the same workshop, the Rev. Henry C. Gregory III, minister of Shiloh Baptish Church at 1500 Ninth ST. NW, said:
"Church members, as citizens, should participate in grass-roots machinery by ecouraging able persons to run, making financial contributions and offering volunteer services to help in campaigns, by making phone calls, addressing envelopes, transporting voters, handing out fliers, giving talks to groups and hosting coffee fellowships for candidates."
As the leader of a group of ministers who have announced their support of mayoral candidate Sterling Tucker, Gregory already had made a personal commitment to be active in politics.
"Church members must participate actively in political pressure groups," he said. "Christian citizens must write or call elective officials on important issues so taht their positions can be known by those elected to represent them."
The Rev. William L. Norvel of St. Benedict the Moor Roman Catholic Church ta 320 21th St. NE offered a profile of the ideal candidate. Such a person, he said, "mist be able to project a personal image of the highest standards of our society . . . must be an advocate for those who are not sufficently represented," such as the poor.
In addition, he said, Christians should support candidates "who distinguish between means and ends" and whose motivation "must be that of service" although, he added, "to be realistic, you can't ignore ambition."
A committee now is gleaning the highlights of the seminar from tape recordings, and a digest is to be sent to participating churches.
The Rev. Dr. John Satterwhite of the Center for Black Church Union, co-chairman of that comittee, said one of the most frequently repeated suggestions at the workshops was that another seminar be held this fall.
Robinson indicated the group will seriously consider the proposal.