Insisting they had "no moral alternative," a group of influential black pastors who support President George W. Bush wrote an open letter last week urging him to substantially boost U.S. aid to Africa and asking him for a meeting. The pastors say that increasing African aid is a moral and not a political issue--but timed their appeal in advance of next month's G8 summit, where aid to Africa will be on the agenda. "Africa has never before been on the top of anyone's priority list," said Bishop Charles E. Blake, who drafted the letter. Together, he and the other pastors (including T. D. Jakes of Dallas) represent churches with a combined membership of nearly 100,000 socially conservative African-Americans, a constituency coveted by GOP strategist Karl Rove. Last month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with about 25 African-American ministers to discuss what the black church could do to alleviate African suffering. "It was very cordial, but not long on policy substance," said another of the open letter's signers, the Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, of Azusa Christian Community Church in Boston. The White House would not say if Bush would meet with the group.