This is Part IV of a IV Part series on Christianity and Racism. Parts I & II may be read in previous issues of the Journal (April 26, 2018 & May 2, 2018), Part III may be read in the May 10, 2018 issue of The Journal. You may also inquire about the booklet, by calling the Journal Ofﬁces at: (626) 798-3972.
WOMANIST THEOLOGY AND RACISM
In addition to the conﬂict between White racism and Black Christianity there was a third leg which brieﬂ y arises out of gender. Some call it a split between two levels of consciousness, a Black consciousness and a Feminist Consciousness. Sojourner Truth in a famous speech describes the conﬂict in the following way: “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages and lifted over ditches and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages or over mud puddles or gives me best any best place, and ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arms! I have plowed and planted and gathered into barns, and no man could head me, and ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?”
Here, we see a woman described, however, it is clear that these niceties were reserved only for white women. Sojourner seems to be saying, “I, too, am a woman and why is nobody doing these nice things for me, so I can be lady like?” Alice Walker’s “Color Purple” demonstrates through Soﬁa how to treat a Black woman and it wasn’t traditional ladylike. Women face oppression from three fronts, sex, race, and class.
SLAVERY – AMERICA’S ORIGINAL SIN
Racism is the lingering remnant and production of America’s original sin (slavery). The lingering impact depends on the work of American families and the decisions of the church and whether they will take a break from their past or continue the traditions of the past. With the so-called justiﬁcation of the murder of Black men in the street by one another and the police, much work needs to be done.
Within the practice of Christianity, repentance must be practiced with prayer accompanied by the good works taught by the Church of sharing with our brothers the bounty that God has provided. Now that the sin has been identiﬁed, cure is the next step on the long journey. Capturing the beneﬁts of freedom, justice and equality must follow.
Maya Angelou statement tells the story when she writes that “history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”
When we see the low educational and employment achievements of America’s Blacks we are looking at the work of the white racists and the lack of work of American churches, black and white. These institutions were born out of a dedication to the life of Jesus and Thomas Jefferson’s words that say, “All men are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
These rights were given to men with a direct duty to carry them out. The pursuit of mega churches, mega-dollars and celebrity status has shortcut the pursuit of the Creator-given rights. The answer is simply to get back to what God has ordered us to do. The prosperity distraction with its ediﬁ ce complex indicates we have lost our way. The Church was God’s gift to the world as a way to nurture and share his word with the masses. It was never meant to be a money maker any more than it was meant to be home to the Ku Klux Klan. And yet that is what it seems to have turned into. Survival for personal reasons seems to be a new mission, replacing the mission of taking care of and teaching the people God’s word. Christianity is to express love for humanity and implement His word.
Prosperity Gospel versus the Gospel of Prosperity. The Prosperity Gospel seems to place the preacher’s comforts and bling, bling above that of the parishioners who come to be nurtured and taught the word of God. These people are said to be drunk with the wine of the world.
The Gospel of Prosperity teaches us that greed is good as an ideology and all else is secondary. It is essentiality the gospel of capitalism that teaches us that the pursuit of wealth is life’s primary goal. This gospel is said to be a competitor to traditional Christianity as it seeks to replace the need for nurturing.
The Prosperity Entrepreneurship focus is good for the leader of a church but leaves the membership confused as to why they come to church. It leaves them seeking wealth rather than answers to the moral questions facing individuals. Jesus addresses this dilemma when he asks, “What shall it proﬁ t a person if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
[The past four articles on Christianity and Racism will be packaged in a booklet which will be available to the public on May 23, 2018, when Attorney Hopkins will present a talk on this topic at Metropolitan Baptist Church, 2283 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Altadena, CA at 7:00 PM.]