ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- On Aug. 16th Booker, Castro, and Buttigieg took the stage at a conference that focused on Christianity and the Black church.
“We believe we must elect candidates in terms of policy not personality, not friendships,” said Pastor Mike McBride who helped moderate the forum Friday afternoon.
Staying in line with the religious focus of the conference, Booker quoted biblical scriptures throughout his time on stage.
“I know Philippians 4:13 says I can do all things. All things through Christ who strengthens me,” Booker told the audience. “Christ does not strengthen you to sit on the sidelines. He does not strengthen you to sit on the couch,” Booker exclaimed, urging the crowd to get involved in the political process.
Organizers with The Black Church PAC announced that they wanted to hear the candidates' plans to combat policies that lead to racism, and specifics on minimizing gun violence, mass incarceration, and economic inequality.
"Too often candidates drive by our churches on a Sunday morning, but they don't sit down and speak with our constituents and really hear the pain, hear the wisdom, hear the hope,” said McBride. “That is part of the reason why we're really trying to use this vehicle,” he added.
Castro, organizers say, was the first candidate to confirm his attendance at the conference He touted his plans for fair housing policies, and creating national use of force policy to cut down on police brutality.
“I think I’m the only candidate who has put out a whole policy on how we must hold police accountable for excessive use of forth,” Castro said.
He also spoke about ending voter suppression.
“We would go after states that use voter suppression like Georgia did,” Castro said. “Stacey Abrams would be the governor if not for what Kemp did to keep people off the rolls,” he told the cheering crowd.
Buttigieg honed in the challenges caused by student loan debt. He vowed to address issues of poverty head on. “When you’re running for office, the advice you get is don’t talk about poverty, talk about the middle class but don’t talk about poverty,” Buttigieg explained. “It’s time to talk about poverty. Time to act on poverty,” he said.
Tiffany Evans was attending the conference from Philadelphia.
“They had plans of action,” Evans told CBS46. “A lot of our presidential candidates speaking in rhetorical conversation but they actually had plans of action with what they were talking about,” she added.
Adolphus Graham had his ear tuned in for policy specifics.
“I think all of the candidates put together Julian Castro had a great policy as far as gun reform,” said the voter from New Jersey. “Mayor Pete Buttigieg had a great policy as far as how to help the inner city communities and Mayor Cory Booker put a great infrastructure plan together,” Graham told CBS46.
Organizers say this is the first series of forums. They plan to invite President Trump to a future forum, as well as Republican presidential candidates.
“We should be probably hear some Republican candidates also,” Graham said. “It's nothing wrong with hearing what they have to say. Just because we are Democratic we are people of color and ethnicity, it doesn't mean that we don't have some of the policies that Republican candidates might have,” he went on.
Sanders and Warren will speak on Saturday.