Tuesday, September 26, 2023

For The Love of God, Please Leave the Black Church Alone!

April 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Christian Talk, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Quick story.  The other day I became short of breath. My heart began to beat erratically, it sounded kind of like when you put a shoe in a clothes drier. Clumpity, clump clump.  Soon after my left arm felt like I had been laying on it all night, prickly and tingly, as if I had a porcupine living under my skin.  Uh oh, I was worried now. I think I am having a heart attack! I hustle into my car and drove as fast as I could.  I was lucky, my mechanic was right down the street! I said, “Earl, I am having a heart attack, check me out quick!” Earl was a damn fine mechanic, one of the best so I just knew I would be ok. He got out the vehicle diagnostic machine, put the plugs on my fingers and ran the diagnostic. 

By this time I am struggling, panicking. My eyes are rolling around in my head, two bowling balls about to strike the pins.  Earl said, “Hey bro, the diagnostic said there was nothing wrong, in fact, it gave me no reading at all.”As my weakened heart slowly stopped like the last drop of water dripping into the drain after the faucet was turned off I saw Earl about to try one more thing.  My last sight was of my wonderful mechanic getting the jumper cables and preparing to jump me to get me going again.  It didn’t work.Black-Church

This story is obviously fictitious but I often find story works when logic doesn’t.  When you were reading the story did it strike you as ludicrous that a deathly ill individual would go to the auto mechanic? If it did, then you will understand how I feel when I hear the routine criticism of the Black church because they don’t do: economic development, social activism, political activism, psychological counseling, neighborhood cleanup, voter registration, shut down the local liquor store…etc. etc. 

If you wouldn’t go to a mechanic when you are having a heart attack, why would you go to an institution that has an explicit SPIRITUAL mission at its core for all the things mentioned above? As a pro-Black pragmatist so many anti-Black church arguments are not logical or productive so I want to address some of that illogicism (my word) in this piece. By way of disclaimer, I do not attend church but I am a Christian.

There are three counter arguments that I have for folks who I hear most often criticizing the Black church for non-spiritual reasons.  My first counter-argument is that not all pastors are preachers and pimps. In fact a relatively few are. My second counter-argument is that focusing criticism on the church for failing in ‘non-church’ activities is a misdirected focus of criticism.  My third counter-argument is that history has changed and so to should the role of the Black church. So let’s get at it. 

Why does that pastor have a new green Caddy with matching Gators and suite along with a brim hat covering everything but the tips of his Jheri Curl? Yep the good old, pastors be pimping people argument. You have heard it.  Everyone that goes to the church is broke BUT the pastor so they say.  But is this true? The Hartford Institute for Religious Study states that over 59% of all churches in America have between 7-99 folks. An astonishing 94% of ALL CHURCHES have less than 500 members.  Mega churches are defined as churches having more than 2000 folks. This is only .4 percent of all the churches in a nation.

Black churches trend to be smaller and have less folks on average so we can easily estimate that probably 75% plus of all Black churches have 99 or less folks. There are probably less than .1 percent of all Black churches that qualify as mega churches, which means probably less than .05% of all Black churches would be in Bishop Eddie Long status. Now when you factor in that Blacks have much less income on average, then those 75% of Black churches with less than 99 folks are not wealthy and therefore neither is the pastor. You can’t squeeze blood from a rock. 

My personal experience is that most pastors are doing other things to supplement their income. Many work a full or part time job and are putting money back into the church.  So while we see the Jakes &Creflo balling out of control, they are so far the outlier as to not make any sense. The average pastor may be pimping, but he is a broke pimp. He is no Pretty Tony. It is just a bad argument by anti-Black church folks.

The second and most important argument for me is the criticism of the Black church for NOT doing things I don’t think they should be doing in the first place.  Why in the hell should the Black church be responsible for stopping crime? Isn’t that the policeman’s job, the neighborhood watches job and the job other community agencies and folks?  Why in the hell should the church be responsible for building businesses? Isn’t that the Black Chamber of Commerce’s job or the local economic development institutions? We are asking the church to have expertise in an area where they don’t and be swimming in pools where they can’t swim. 

As a result of this misdirected criticism, we give all those folks who should be doing their job and aren’t a pass. Instead of building neighborhood associations and holding them accountable to create neighborhood watches we are like, “Why ain’t the church stopping gangs”…What? As a pro-Black pragmatist I look at this as ludicrous to the core.  I say let the best, most effective institutions to PLAY THEIR ROLE. Let the church do spirit, let the chamber do business.  Arguing that the Black Church should be everything to all people in the community is just a bad argument by the anti-Black church folks.

Finally, I am not ignorant to the history of the Black church in our development as a people.  A great an aged friend of mine who was a hard core civil rights activist in the 70s ran the local NAACP, had a PHD and a was a reverend once told me, “The reason the pastors were so out front in the civil rights movement was because we were the only folks whose income came from the people”.  This was also true in slavery and Jim Crow where so many churches were the only safe place to organize, politicize, philosophize, actionize and get spiritualized. 

So they were all things to all people because they had to be.  This is no longer the case.  Every time we lean on the Black church to do something ‘out of mission’ we are not building organizations that are ‘in mission’ to directly address our need for power and self-determinism in the new millennium.  So anti-Black church folks making the argument about what the church used to do and now not doing are just making a bad argument.

So for the love of God, leave the Black church alone and build organizations to address all the other stuff you are concerned about that the church doesn’t do. 

Remember, to BE different you have to DO different.

Staff Writer; Marcus Vessey





22 Responses to “For The Love of God, Please Leave the Black Church Alone!”
  1. Cassandra Frye says:


  2. Prophet Harry says:

    Do you all know what it means to know that prophets are racially different?

    For examples, Jesus was a Jew. Mohammed was an Arab man.

    Have you notice that all the know prophets were the same race as their own people?

    For instance, all the Jewish prophets were Jews. And, the Arabians had an Arab prophet. This much should tell all of you that our prophet must be a Black American as we are am I right.

  3. toomanygrandkids says:

    When I read the title of this article, I thought the author was pleading w/ folks TO LEAVE the black church ai in don’t waste your time going to church. Boy, was I wrong.

    Are we wrong for holding church folks accountable for their heinous thoughts and actions? There’s an article I posted a comment on regarding a pastor infecting women with HIV. Should we just shrug our shoulders and say, oh well? That lustful deed is within the realms of black on black crime. Literally. Goes to show that the flesh is indeed a temptation. Yet, pastors will preach about avoiding temptations of the flesh and will glare into the eyes of their audience as if trying to make THEM feel guilty.

    This really has nothing to do w/ money or attendance. Unless you want to count how much these pastors pay for prostitutes or the females in the congregation. Then there’s the folks who are paid to keep quite of the shady goings-on among the holy. Your assessment of what a pastor earns may be correct, but it doesn’t reveal what or whom he spends it on. This pastors are slimier than a snake slithering through Crisco.

    You are absolutely right saying that it’s not the church’s responsibilty to clean up the community and stop crime. In a sense, church folks are criminals–in the name of the Lord, of course. Isn’t stealing money from the church a crime? Yep. How about adultrey and fornification? Those are religious crimes. Pastors and their congregations are breaking the Ten Commandments that they expect everyone else to obey.

  4. observer says:

    You guys should check out the documentary “Hidden Colors Part 1″….

  5. Rameses says:

    go on Deanne with your bad self…..and you did it so gracefully too much love to this sister

  6. Deeann D. Mathews says:

    Eric and Robert — It IS most certainly true that many Black people do follow a slavish set of practices that are passing for Christianity, practices governed by fear and deprived of spiritual power. I see it every week, and break it up however I can (thus, Sunday-go-to-meeting is a day’s WORK for me). I also see the remnants of African religion that persist in worship practices to this day; I see that every week (and hear it in the chant section of gospel music).

    But I also see this: Even given the bad way Christianity was introduced to West Africans, the faith has the same merits that it had all those centuries ago when our East African cousins, even before the time of Constantine, chose to believe it in large numbers — and it is for those merits that Christianity persisted as the choice of some Black people, beyond the coercive aspects. A deep study of the Negro Spirituals would be revealing; in addition to their remarkable coded messages, some of them are more Scripturally and theologically sound than the hymns that were being written by Europeans who had access to the Bible, because the enslaved Africans who were Christians (as opposed to all folks that went to “church” — the distinction is important to this day) had been led through, by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, to the reality of the faith, though they were denied access in most cases to examine the Scriptures for themselves. And that is to be expected; in various places in the Scriptures, God promised to lead His people into the truth, and He keeps His promises, no matter what a hierarchy — white or Black — tries to do to stop the process.

    Back to the slavish counterfeit of Christianity — Black people are not alone in following that. Constantine’s counterfeit has people of all races and denominations confusing the Church with a building and the rituals and hierarchy attached. We all agree — it’s a massive problem that drains vast resources of energy and money out of communities and gives them to a select few. In that sense Europeans were religiously enslaved long before they passed that same slavish set of practices on to our West African forebears. But you will find Christians of all colors to this day following the tenets of their faith and making a difference, accordingly, around them — not according to the dictates of a prelate, but following the best understanding they have from the Word of God as revealed in the Bible and by the leading of God’s Holy Spirit. There is a reality beyond the human messiness — of all colors — that humans have attached to what is really not a complicated faith, though its simplicity offends everyone who believes that they are essentially able to act in the world as a self-contained God unto themselves. People of all races have a hard time dealing with the fact that their own righteousness isn’t good enough, and that the only hope they have of a right standing with a holy God is through belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who through His death, burial, and resurrection provided the one and only salvation FROM sin and eternal judgment and FOR personal relationship with and service to God for time and eternity.

    Christianity is simple — no church building and big hierarchy required. But because the simple facts are so offensive, humans spend time building and attacking counterfeits and add-ons. But as it was in East Africa at first, so it was for many of my West African direct ancestors and for me personally — I did not choose a building and its rituals, but I chose belief in Jesus Christ. That choice is the heart of Christianity; it is as valid a choice for people of African descent today as it was 2,000 years ago, and as vital, although one has to look beyond Sunday at 11 to see that.

    As the Scripture says, “He that hath an ear” — or at least patience with the length of my writing — “let him hear”!

  7. Lang says:

    If you read your history Africa had Christians way before slavery the Christians use to fight with the Hebrew people but Hebrew people converted to being Christians and vice versa with Christian read the history Coptic Christians are one of the oldest religion in Egypt way before the white man came to Africa another thing we are the descendents of the Hebrew people tribe Judah

  8. ROBERT says:

    I think bro ERIC is closer to the truth historically speaking.THE ARFICAN experience with CHRISTIANITY that DEEAN is speaking of is the ETHIOPIAN experience and it did not take place until the third century.BRO ERIC is right when he say’s we are W. AFRICAN’S and we did not recieve CHRISTIANITY until the seventeeth century; therefore the only version we have is what ERIC said is a slave religion.IT is very important to know that the religion we have was designed to control a slave.I understand DEEAN that there are other versions of CHRISTIANITY that are far older amd more original.HOWEVER that’s not where we are ;we still have the religion of a slave.

  9. jdgwisd says:

    Marcus and Everyone:

    I was intrigued by the title of the article and read its content. On its merit, Marcus was wrong in his remarks that the church should not have much of a social or economic responsibility to the communities they are in. That they should be part of the community, not its sole agent. However, I’ve witnessed a few black churches who’s influence is that of agent and catalyst politically, socially, and economically(hence the comments about prospering preachers and mega churches). However, Marcus has a big point. It’s up to individual African Americans to change the direction of a community. To ask the Black Church to change itself is silly. I go to church. However, I go for my own spiritual welfare. I don’t participate in any “kingdom building”(lower case intended)activities that benefit only a chosen few and not the community surrounding the church. Yes, the church has failed in its mission in many ways. But like Jesus and the 1st Century Christian Church, the way the black church responds to their communities have to be changed. Otherwise Marcus, the responders of your commentary will continue to see the Black Church as a failure and black preachers as modern day Gregori Rasputins(and I’ll be damned if in Rasputin’s time the Church in Russia was in the same disarray as the African American Christian church).

  10. Eric L. Wattree says:


    Slave Religion

    Slave religion is the beliefs, religious faith, and practices of Africans brought to the New World beginning in 1619 and that African Americans kept until they were emancipated. West Africans believe that there is a high god, who created all things and they believe on lesser gods who follow the high god. Having these lesser gods meant that they would pray to different gods when dealing with rain, fertility, and crops. They also believed that a status with the lesser gods was occupied by the spirits of their ancestors. Africans thought that their ancestors were the living dead because they were both close to the living as well as the ultimate beings. The purpose of them living was to honor the ancestors, recognize the lesser gods, and give all power and admiration to the high god.

    Christianity became alive as slaves began to combine their African religious beliefs with Christian beliefs in order to make up what is called slave religion. At the beginning, between 1619 and the early 1700’s, slave owners were not really trying to convert their slaves into Christians. Then, slave owners began to have different thoughts between each other as well. Some believed that slaves were more than inferior so this meant that they should try to acquire Christian redemption. Others believed that converting slaves into Christians would cause many problems because they could start thinking that they were equal to whites since they were sharing the same beliefs. To them, a converted slave would become lazy or even resistant to their white masters.

    Then, in 1701, this all began to change when white missionaries and slave masters realized that slaves should be converted into Christians. The formation in London of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) was how this all began. The number of slaves that they converted was limited due to the lack of ministers that were sent to North America and because some slave owners objected for their slaves to be taught Christian beliefs. The SPG was converting slaves as they demanded control of their body instead of African beliefs in which they emphasize on physical movement caused by spirit possession.

    This society was fairly effective but it was not until the Great Awakenings (1740 and the early 1800’s) that black slaves began to turn towards Christianity in large numbers. Preachers that were related with the Great Awakening emphasized conversion of the heart, encouraged overjoyed body expressions, and required a simple confession of Jesus Christ’s lordship. These ideas were obviously accepted by slaves because they converted throughout the South, but there were some that still resisted some of the theology and religious practices of the Great Awakenings. White preachers taught the slaves that they had to obey their masters as a sign of being faithful to God. In the other hand, white churches still thought that slaves were not equal because they held segregated religious services and controlled the free worship by slaves. Plantation owners went one step further as they established segregated seating by placing the slaves in the rear, in the balcony, or even outside the church windows.

    Slaves prayed secretly to God as their only master and asked for them to be liberated from their owners. They reinterpreted Christianity by adding some of their African religion. Slaves identified themselves with the Old Testament Hebrew slaves as they were liberated by God. If God was able to liberate the Hebrew slaves that meant that if the slaves would pray enough to him; the same thing could take place for them. To them, faith was now a belief in and commitment to a God that helped the poor and judged the arrogant and the strong, their owners. Now, God instead of the plantation owner was the actual master of the slaves. Slaves believed that if God had sided against religious and political powers in the Bible, then he could also help them become free. They believed that Jesus was powerful enough to do anything.

    Through their arrangement of God and Jesus, slaves were able to obtain a new meaning in their everyday life. They created things like “discourse of solidarity” in which one slave would never give information about another and even went to the extreme of religious resistance. Rebellion was now taking place. “Invisible Institution” was now clearly shown as slaves were conducting secret worship and prayer far away from the eyes of their masters. They would meet in the woods where they would get ready to receive a visit from the spirit who made them sing, pray, preach, shout, and enjoy their own free religious space in such an enthusiastic manner. In the Invisible Institution slaves learned things as oratorical skill and started to become leaders. Some received food and clothing but also counseling in order to keep in the right stage of mind.

    In 1830’s during the religious awakening in the South the slave owners were now bringing the Gospel to the quarters and this served as social control and as a way to convert the slaves. By 1860, about 15 percent of the slaves were members of either the Baptist or Methodist church. There they heard the same sermons, had the same discipline, and shared the communion table with whites. In the other hand, slaves still did not only follow these formal proceedings. Slaves would still listen to their own black preachers and they would also try to translate the Bible in a way in which it showed that they were God’s chosen people and that Judgment Day would castigate their masters. Slaves turned Christianity into their own terms. If their masters did not follow common Christian behavior then the slaves felt a great superiority over their masters.

    Now, in the lower Gulf area, around Louisiana, some slaves followed VOODOO. In other places where slaves were imported illegally from Africa, they practiced Islam. Others did not have a religion at all.


    African-American slave religion was very varied and was beyond the master’s observation and knowledge, which was why rebellion began to take place. Slave religion was proven to be dangerous by Nat Turner’s Rebellion of 1831, which was the most important revolt in the 19th century. Nat Turner was a slave in Southampton County, Va., who believed God had called him in a religious vision to deliver his people from enslavement. He used his literacy, articulation, and impulsiveness to preach and gather others who would join him as he planned to strike one night after an eclipse of the sun. He started with six followers but ended with eighty who marched to Jerusalem, in Southampton County, and they killed fifty-seven men, women, and children until white authorities ended the revolt. Turner avoided to be captured for two months before he was caught and was finally executed in November 1831. Some white Southerners saw rebellion starting everywhere and killed as many as two hundred slaves because of fear. They began to be stricter and they showed a closer supervision and religious instruction. The Turner revolt and the aftermath only proved that whites still did not know the slaves.

    Works Consulted

    Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996. 2452-2454 and 2465.

    Genovese, Eugene D. Roll, Jordan, Roll. New York: Random House, Inc., 1972. 232-255.

  11. Eric L. Wattree says:


    You can engage in all of the convoluted verbiage that you like, but the fact is, Black people didn’t come to the United States as Christians. So what you’re engaged in is nothing more than obfuscation. Here’s a message that I sent to my niece on the subject. she’s a devout Christian:
    It doesn’t matter what the video was titled, the man put out a public video on a public debate. The title was just political spin. The implication is, if you were raised to be a Christian you have an obligation to agree with me. Christians have been so effective at scaring people that I lot of people who don’t even go to church are afraid to disagree with Christians because they are afraid that if they do they might go to Hell.
    As a young Christian I had to struggle with that myself. Even as a kid I knew I didn’t believe in talkin’ snakes and walkin’ dead men, but I’d been taught that if I didn’t believe it the Devil was gonna get me. As a result I was walking around bumping into trees because I always hadmy eyes closed praying, begging, God not to send me to Hell. It was, literally, driving me crazy.
    Then one day I said a simple prayer – I was about 12 years old, and I’ll never forget it. I said, “Lord, please help lead me and guide me, and help me to make the right decisions, and give me the strength and determination to carry them through.” Then when I opened my eyes, I was free.
    Now, I don’t know whether it was God, or I had reprogrammed my mind, or whether it was God through giving us the ability to reprogram our minds, but I felt free to think what I thought, instead of what other told me to think. And from that point on, whenever I felt the need to seek God – and I always do – I look within, not to men, and I started speaking out.
    At 14 years old I used to get into debates with Rev. Hill, and I told him flat-out that I didn’t believe a lot of the stuff that he was preaching. And even though I was a kid, he never could prevail in those debates.
    Although granddaddy never said that he agreed with me, he started listening. Then he started joking about how Rev. Hill sent the assistant pastor to try to talk to me and they never saw him again. And right up until the day he died, daddy use to tell me that one day I was gonna be a preacher. Of course, I laughed at the idea. But now that I look at it, maybe he was right. I am something of a preacher; I just preach a different kind of sermon, and that sermon is, keep man out of your relationship with God, because man has proven without a doubt that he’s evil and self-serving.
    When God created man he created him to be an independent thinker, and he incorporate his will into his psyche. Thus, God created birds to fly, fish to swim, and man to think. So man has no more need for a “User’s Guide” than birds need a calender and compass to know what direction to fly to go south during the Winter.
    So religion is a political device that man uses to control the minds of other men in his community. Thus, what you believe is merely an accident of birth. If you had been born in Israel, chances are you’d be just as devout a Jew as you are now a Christian; if you’d been born in Iraq you’d be Muslim, and if you’d been born in China, you’d believe in something else still.
    So Tiff, we need to open our eyes and used the mind that God gave us. If we would do just that one thing, there would be a lot less strife in the world today. Watch that video again. That man is preaching hatred. You’re a highly educated woman with two degrees. Open up that mind that God gave you, and you’ll know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

  12. Marcus Vessey says:

    One other quick point. Many of you seem to have the hardest time recognizing the difference between a catalyst and an actor. That is your fundamental problem and this is why you are backwards rationalizing that the church as an “ORGANIZATION” should be responsible for many of the things you suggest.

    The church as an organization should be catalyst for actors to go out and manifest God in their spirituality in the community, which should prompt those actors (and it often does) to create anti-violence groups, soup kitchens, etc.

    THIS IS MATERIALLY DIFFERENT than say that it is the responsibility of the church as an organization to do so.

    This is not rocket science. Many of you folks use the church as a scapegoat for things that you don’t have the guts or balls to go out and create for yourselves. It is easier to sit back and throw rocks at an institution than to go out and create an institution or projects, or set of activities to create change.

    I wonder, how many of you who are lob verbal grenades at the Black church for what they aren’t doing in your community are out in your community doing what you complain about the Black church for not doing?

  13. Marcus Vessey says:

    LOL, I love it, keep it coming guys.

    @Realman – Show me data. The baseless assertion that half of all the preachers are crooked is just as idiotic as white people saying Black men are predisposed to crime.

    @JR – Find your own faith bro. I really don’t care what you believe and this is not a thread to convert you or have you convert me to anything.

    @Eric – I don’t engage in debate with someone who isn’t a Christian telling me how to be a Christian. It is ludicrous on its face so I won’t even engage that nonsense. I wouldn’t ever attempt to try to tell you how to live whatever spirituality you profess, so I suggest you not attempt to tell me how to manifest mine. Now if you have particular counter-arguments I will listen to them.

    But the funny thing is YOU MADE NO COUNTER-ARGUMENTS AT ALL. You just rambled on about how you know how to be a better Christian than me which has absolutely zero to do with the post. I will wait.

  14. JR and Eric: I know you two have been waiting for an answer to your question about why an avid historian, rooted in science and of African descent, should be a Christian. Time fails for me to answer it as richly as it deserves to be answered. But, since you asked for help, JR, and since you co-signed, Eric, I can’t just let you go on without that help…

    Black people have a rich Christian history that predates chattel slavery by more than a thousand years, and a history of being honored in the Word of God that predates chattel slavery by entire millennia. I give only one example: Europeans actually followed Africans into the faith, not vice versa. See Acts 8 and then Acts 10. I also would suggest a thorough look into the true nationality of many of the pre-Roman Catholic church fathers. Now, I am no avid historian, and I know these things, so I would expect an avid historian to know, therefore, that there is nothing that would forbid a person of African descent from being a Christian merely by virtue of being of African descent, although I would expect that the white American version of Christianity would pose serious problems. It is certainly true that the version of Christianity that the slave master bastardized is completely insufficient, but I would suggest to the avid historian a close study of the Negro Spiritual. Our Black Christian foreparents reached far beyond what their masters wanted them to know, even without the ability to have access to reading the Bible, into a truer understanding of Christianity than one finds in many local churches today, white or Black. But our foreparents — and some Black Christians living today, for that matter — were able to reach that truer understanding for a reason. Again: Africa and Christianity have a rich history together that long predates chattel slavery, and I would expect an avid historian to know that.

    “Rooted in science” — if you mean the European system of science that makes out the white man as the pinnacle of evolution (and therefore God’s replacement, since evolution posits that there is no Creator) — I daresay that if you are a person of African descent rooted in that, you surely have no reason to want to be a Christian. A denial of truth on that many levels would preclude the reception of a whole lot of truth.

    If you mean African systems of science and cosmology, I only suggest to an avid historian a few facts. According to the Bible, Christianity went into Africa before it went into Europe and most of Asia Minor — and yet the major explanatory and corrective sections of the Bible in the Epistles are written to the churches of Europe and Asia Minor (Corinth, in Greece, comes to mind; Romans is self-explanatory, and the Galatians descended from the people of Gaul, roughly in France, who also blended with the Anglo-Saxons who formed the bulk of “white people” as we know them in this country. Ephesians of course refers to Ephesus, in today’s Turkey — and we know how badly the Turks want to be identified as European, not without reason, given their ethnography). For whatever reason, God did not feel that the burgeoning Church in Africa needed quite as much help… could it be that Christianity, in its pre-Romanized form, was not so opposed to African knowledge about the universe and about human relationships, a knowledge superior to that of Europe and Europeanized Asia?

    Again I draw attention to the pre-Roman Catholic church fathers’ origins; I also make a note that should be apparent to an avid historian about how the Roman Catholic Church managed to become “universal” — it had to borrow its forms heavily from pre-existing and already ancient EGYPTIAN religion, a borrowing and bastardization that achieved the aims of Constantine and the rest all too well. I am not saying that the latter fact is to be celebrated. I am saying that on both the positive and negative sides, the gap between African thought and Christianity is not so wide that it has not been successfully bridged, many, many, many, many, many times. I would also expect any avid historian to know that as well.

    Lastly, gentlemen — and this is, pun fully intended, the crux of the matter — even an avid historian, rooted in science and of African descent, is still human, and as such, does not measure up to the standard of a holy God. The crux of Christianity is that God, knowing that mankind had fallen into sin, became flesh, fully man yet still fully God, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (in Whose human lineage, for those that correctly object to His portrayal as white, there is not a drop of Indo-European blood, according to His genealogies), lived an absolutely sinless life, and then died on the cross to atone for man’s sins so that mankind could in return partake of His righteousness. Now the righteousness of a dead man would do little good; that is why the joy of Christianity is in the knowledge of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (though it is unfortunately confused now with “Easter”), Who therefore is a living Savior to all those that believe in Him and His work — in His death for mankind’s sins, His burial, and His resurrection from the dead. The Bible says that God is no respector of persons — nothing in the background of an African, Asian, European, Native American, Pacific Islander, Aboriginal Australians, or anybody else would preclude him or her from having a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. But also, nothing in the background of an African, Asian, European, Native American, Pacific Islander, Aboriginal Australian, or anybody else would preclude him or her from suffering the judgment of eternal damnation from God (that is commonly known as “doomed forever to Hell,” but it is more than, and worse, than just that)for rejecting His offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. The two latter points, in conclusion, are the main reasons why an avid historian, rooted in science, and of African descent, ought to become a Christian.

    Now, I’m not saying you have to go into any building with a “white Jesus” n it; I’m not even saying that you have to interact with a building and its forms at all. Even I, a dyed-in-the-wool church-going Christian, find my deepest satisfaction away from many of the Sunday morning rituals. The first-century Christians got along quite well without those things. But I am saying that you need to stop the argument with Massa and his lies and consider Christianity as revealed in the Bible and through the lives of genuine Christians for yourself — just as our African foreparents did, 2,000 years ago. Christianity, according to Acts 8, went into Africa first because a Black man of great authority was studying the Old Testament for himself when he encountered an early Christian who knew about what Jesus Christ had just done. Constantine and the rest weren’t even involved — again, stop arguing with Massa’s lies and study the Scriptures for yourself. I would suggest the books of John and Acts as a place to start. And find some “church folks” who are willing to let you follow them around — see what they do Monday through Saturday, and see if you discern the impact of the life of God in them as they live and work in their community. Consider it a “scientific” observation — make the investigation of the Scriptures and the lives of serious Black Christians for yourself, and see what you find out. You may have to rethink some of your conclusions, based on better evidence!

  15. Eric L. Wattree says:


    I with you, brother. I’m very spiritual and I believe in God, but I can’t for the life of me understand how ANY Black person can be a Christian, and the fact that so many are is a monument to the power of brainwashing – and many of them are suppose to be educated.

    Cornel West is a Bible thumper. That’s one of the reasons that I can’t take him seriously as an intellectual. You show me a man who believes in talkin’ snakes, and I’ll show you a man whose grip on reality can’t be relied upon:

    The Conversion
    “Come here nigga and let me teach yo crazy, animal ass about the Lord. The first thing you got to learn is to Love thy Neighbor . . . especially me.”
    “Yes sir, Massa. Why would anybody not love you, Sir? You so good to me, Massa. Anybody don’t love you needs to have dey ass beat real good, Massa.”
    “Shut up, nigga. I’m talkin’.”
    “Listen, you been blessed already, and you don’t even know the Lord. The Lord made it where you don’t have to worry ’bout a thing. I feed you, I put clothes on yo nasty ass, and I give you a shed to sleep in, and all you have to do is whatever the hell I tell you to. Do you know how blessed you are?”
    “Oh, indeed I do, Massa. You take good care of me. I’s so happy.”
    “Now, listen real good ’cause dis impotant. God said, thou shalt not steal from me, thou shalt not kill (unless I tell you to), thou shalt not stick another coon’s wife (unless we tryin’ to make some mo niggas), and nigga, whatever you do, thou shalt not even look like you want to stick a white woman, or we gon lynch yo black ass. You here me, nigga?”
    “Oh yes, Massa. We know dat! But Massa, I thought you said thou shalt not kill?”
    “Dat means people, fool – real people! Dat don’t go for niggas. God wants us to keep you in yo place.”.
    “Dat’s right, Massa. We sho gotta keep niggas in dey place. No tellin’ what a happen if we let dese niggas git loose. God so smart.”
    “I said shut up, nigga, and listen to the word.”
    “The next thing you got to learn is, whatever happens on this plantation is God’s will bein’ done. And if you listen to me, you’ll get to live like I do when you die and go to Heaven.”
    “Live like you, massa? A nigga ain’t got no business livin’ dat good. What a Po nigga like me gon do with all this? You know I ain’t got sense enough to run nothin’ like this.”
    “Just shut up, nigga!” When you dead you gon get some sense – the lord gon give it to you. The Lord can do anything, even give sense to a nigga. And he gon give you all the other niggas you gon need to help you in the fields, too.”
    “Massa, you so good to me! Thank you for tellin’ me all dis. I’m gon be a good nigga – the best nigga you ever seened. Look, I’m gon pray for you right now, and thank the Lord for givin’ me so good a massa.”
    “Shut up and get up off your knees, ya dumb nigga! The fields need tendin’! You pray to the Lord on your own time. God don’t won’t you talkin’ to him when you s’pose to be workin’.”
    “A couse, Massa. What I been thinkin’? I’s so dumb. I don’t know why you put up with me, Sir.”
    “How many times I got to tell you to shut the hell up, nigga?”
    “Yes Sir, I’s a shuttin’, Massa. I’s a shuttin’, right now.”
    “Now get yo ass out there in that field and let’s get some work done around here . . . Oh, and Toby, have yo woman meet me in the barn. I need to tell her ’bout the Lord too.”
    “Yes sir, Massa.”
    “And another thing, Toby, if my momma come a lookin’, tell her I’m playin’ in my tree house.”
    “Why you gon go fibbin’ to yo momma, Mr. Tommy? She knows you like to sit wit Lou Ann.”
    “Just shut up, nigga, and do what I said! And tell Lou Ann to wear that pretty dress I like, cause we gon be talkin’ ’bout the Lord, so it’s gon be like chuch.”
    “Yes Sir, Mr. Tommy.” . . . “Whaaaaaaat a friend we have in Jeeeeesus . . .”

  16. Charlie Wells says:

    Well JR you just answered your own question?

  17. JR says:

    Help me out here…why should I, an avid historian, rooted in science, and a descendant of an African, be a Christian?

    *sits back and waits for the answers coming* 😉

  18. ROBERT says:

    OTHER people use the power of their religion to change their reality; black AMERICANS use their’s to escape reality.

  19. Eric L. Wattree says:


    You’re unbelievable – and you claim to be a christian!!!!? I would just love to see you standing before God saying,
    “Why in the hell should the Black church be responsible for stopping crime? Isn’t that the policeman’s job, the neighborhood watches job and the job other community agencies and folks? Why in the hell should the church be responsible for building businesses? Isn’t that the Black Chamber of Commerce’s job or the local economic development institutions? I’d also like to hear you telling him that you’re upset because the your flock has the nerve to be asking you, “Why ain’t the church stopping gangs?” Then you tell God, “What? As a pro-Black pragmatist I look at this as ludicrous to the core.”
    What kind of Christian are you!!!? I don’t even claim to be a Christian, and even I have a better understanding of what Christianity is about that you. This entire rant just lacks common sense. While I understand your point about ALSO organizing outside of the church, it’s stated very badly.
    “Why in the hell should the Black church be responsible for stopping crime?” Because the Bible says to treat others as you would like to be treated. “Why in the hell should the church be responsible for building businesses? Because the Bible says that we should work to feed the poor. And “Why should the church get involved in stopping gang violence?” Because the Bible said to “Thou shall not kill,” and to “Love thy neighbor as thy self.” But most importantly, the Bible says, “IF YE WERE ABRAHAM’S CHILDREN, YE WOULD DO THE WORKS OF ABRAHAM”
    So now that the Bible has destroyed your unbelievably ill-considered thesis, I’d like to add my own Eleventh Commandment . . . Don’t preach me a sermon, live me one.
    And finally, if it were not for the active intervention of the Black church, you would be babbling this nonsense from the back of the bus – that is, unless some White man slapped you in the mouth and told you to shut the hell up.

  20. Realman says:


    Come on man, get real. Nobody is really anti-black church, they just don’t like crooked churches and crooked preachers who loot and prey on their their members. Stop acting as if this stuff doesn’t happen, you know good and well this is a serious problem especially in the black community. Not all preachers or churches are crooked but literally at least half of them are. We all know church has unfortunatley become nothing but a business, it amazes me that you claim to be a minister/preacher and yet refuse to acknowledge these obvious problems and then attempt to shift responsibility of the black community’s issues to other organizations. Well I’m sure if people stop giving their Sunday offerings and instead sent it to the NAACP virtually every minister would start yelling where’s my money!

  21. Marcus Vessey says:

    Florence Johnson, I appreciate your comment but I disagree. I have a degree in bible, spent two years as a pastoral major learning hermeneutics and Koine Greek, spent 7 years as minister, 3 of which was based around busing kids in from the projects, and four of which was at a Black church that served gang members, single mothers, and street folks that many other churches kicked out. Also, for my servant leadership project as I was going through Bible college I spent three years doing youth ministry at the historically oldest African American AME church in my area. Adding to that I had courses and sat up under one of the top Black church scholars in the Midwest.

    In addition, I have been in churches all of my life, both the Black church and the white church and I have seen how both, of multiple denominations been run, perceived and engage the broader community. Also when I was a business banker I had many churches in my portfolio, mostly Black churches and worked with them on growth plans and financial management.

    And now I choose not to go to church, but that doesn’t mean I never have participated on a high level.

    In relation to the article. I agree with you, the church is not an abstract spritual entity that should have no social impact. But you are making a terrible argument when you argue it is the churches role to do all the things that folks think it should do. It is just a plain bad argument.

    The church is to be a catalyst for people to act, not an organization that does the action (but it can be). Even the verses that you took out of context point to what I am talking about.

    The church should be a catalyst in the hearts of people to create social action, but they are necessarily the best vehicle to DO THE SOCIAL ACTION itself. White churches, Hispanic churches, and Asian churches don’t have the same DEMAND put on them to cure all social ills as an institution as the Black church.

    There is nothing in your argument that counters legitimately anything in my argument but I appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

  22. It amazes me, the people who propose to write articles aout subjects (i.e.) Black Churches and then make a statement like this “By the way I am a Christian but I don’t go to church,” then intersperse, the article with a few choice colorful words, and diatribe that is off as two left shoes.

    First of all, it is the churches biblical duty to minister to their surrounding communities in various ways, the purpose of the church is to minister to the whole man. It is asinine to say the least for a person to come to church on Sunday morning hear the word, give in offering (even if it is just a “widows mite”, and return home to no food to eat (to give you an example). James 2:16 states “If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”

    What good is it to be in a community of violence, proverty,homelessness, single parent homes, and say to them, go in peace, keep warm and well fed, but do nothing about it, every body say m-m-m-m-m.

    I realize as a beacon of God’s light we have to balance our approach to each individual circumstance and situation identified in a particular community. One church shouldn’t be expected to address it all, nevertheless the system is failing, it seems to me we are back again at a time when the church is the solution as in the civil rights era. It is our God given duty and command as Christians and I quote Apostle James again 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep …We cannot expect or depend on this world’s system to do what God has given us to do, and that is showing his love to our distressed communities by and through us.

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