Black History Month And The Role Of Religion In Helping And Hurting The Rights Of Man

         I am not interested in how Abraham Isaac and Jacob lived their lives or handled their complex relations with God; I am interested in how we as a people handle life’s challenges. I am interested in being the Beloved Community. America is intended to be the Beloved Community. America was called into being by God to be a special kingdom on earth, a kingdom where all mankind could live as brothers regardless of their historical backgrounds or environmental differences. The men given this vision were inspired by God to lay down the curriculum and instructions for this new kingdom, and it was designed to be a kingdom without a king. There have been many attempts at kingdom building over the centuries. Each has been successful in its own way, and each has failed over time. The story of creation as related in the major religions of the world, Judaism, Christian and Islam; in mythology and allegory tells the story of man in his struggle to know his god to find his place in the world.

Abraham, the father of modern religious thought selects Elohim as his God for directions. The Egyptians select Aganatum, the Romans selected Apollo and the Greeks selected Zeus. America selected the founding fathers for focus and direction. The Beloved Community relates to the under standing of what “some call “Moral psychology” a study in both philosophy and psychology. Some use the term “moral psychology” the study of moral development. “Still others include any topics relating to ethics of the mind and behavior as influenced by psychology and philosophy.” ” Discussions in the field include topics of are moral judgment, moral reasoning, moral responsibility, moral development, moral character, altruism, psychological egoism, and moral disagreement.” These topics all relate to how human beings interact with each other throughout history. Is man relating to each other in the manner, likeness and character of his God, or has he created a belief system of God in his own animalistic image? The struggles that this new country has gone through is a quest to answer these questions. According to scientific data, man as a homosapien species, ogiginated on the continent of Africa almost 2 millions years ago. Biblical history has him appearing somewhere in the northern parts of African and in joining areas of the Middle East.Sacred scripture, follows the story of one man, one family, one God and one nation and builds the foundation of faith based on the genetic lineage of this one man. Who he was or was not is not known, but his travels through the fourcorners of the earth caused environmental changes in in skin, hair and culture. Environment influenced behaviors, culture and beliefs, it appears that the continent of Africa was suportive enough to give rise to the civilizations or living systems, which spread all over the world. As man left the Egypt of his birth, he carried with him the seeds of advancement to be planted in areas all over the globe, and in time and circumstances would grow into the civilizations of the modern world. America the symbolic example of the modern world has benefited from the seed carriers traveling thousands of miles and thousands of years to reach this promised land. They had to fight the bees for their honey, and convince large animals to give up their fluids and life to sustain them, but they were able to make a new promised life for themselves. The peopling of the new world had begun, and the process of becoming the Beloved Community was still to be. Whole peoples and cultures would transported from worlds and cultures vastly different from this land stolen under the sun.

             The recorded introduction of the African to the British North American colonies occurred around 1619, in a part of the south known as Jamestown Virginia, most came as indentured servants. After serving the agreed upon period of indenture, they were able to gain their freedom, and were able to make fortunes for themselves, many became slave owners. The record of how and why these men decided to enter into a period of indenture leave their homeland and start a new life in a new part of the world is yet to be told.

African explorers were in the Americas before Columbus, and many returned to native lands with stories of a land with endless possibilities. The drive to explore his world has always been in the hearts of man, especially those with the skills of shipbuilding and ocean navigation. The Romans and the Greeks likes to stay within the known world and oppress the poor and the weak.

The children of the Biblical Old and New Testament, especially the Hebrews preferred to walk to their destinations or maybe take small fishing boats out still staying close to familiar shores; there were however, more adventurous Vikings, Egyptians and Chinese. Our Biblical stories did not produce an adventurous spirit from people who had selected a God who kept them in a condition of benevolent bondage for thousands of years. Of course living in and near a desert, surrounded by talking mountains and no exposure to the oceans of the world would tend to limit the expansion of the mind to endless possibilities.

The ocean gods call man to want to explore the unknown. The land gods, such as those selected by the land and desert peoples of the Bible, required man to stand his ground, and never challenge their god or His world. Man was indeed forbidden to even think of going near the tree of knowledge and adventure. Three of the world’s major religions are founded on the principle that the cause of sin in the world is the result of man’s disobedience and touching the tree of knowledge. Cultures permitted man to walk and talk with his gods permitted men to explore the vast territories created by the one supreme being, especially the Egyptian, Vikings and Chinese enabling them to become great ship builders and world explorers. Speculation about new worlds and new adventures could have motivated second sons left out of royal inheritance to try their luck in a new world.

These men would have easily consented to sign themselves over to indenture for a select period of time with the possibility of being able to make their own fortune and future in distance lands. In most world cultures, inheritance and leadership roles were passed down to the first born, leaving the remaining sons with resentment and frustration, but also with the wealth necessary to start a new life in a new place. These were the 16 Africans arriving in Virginia in 1619, men who voluntarily got into boats destined to a new world to do a new thing.

Life will find a way, and these men, finding themselves in the company of other bondsmen and women, shipped by England to serve the needs of the new world, created relationships and families, which became the foundation of what was later to become the United States of America. Indenture and bondage was not initially a color issue, and the untold stories of the new world were formulated in these men and women of courage and vision.

The close relationships formed by these groups eventually led to the question of freedom and justice for all men, and the frustration of the inability to bring this vision of justice for all about, eventually led to one of humankind major determination to fight for the right to be free. This fight for justice was called the American Revolutionary war ending in 1776. The surprise victory of a group of black and white bondsmen and settlers left them with the realization that they now had a country to run and financially operate. The laws of property rights and the reality of dismantling a trained labor force resulted in long discussion periods of what was right and wrong about men owning other men for life. Religious thinkers called slavery wrong whether for black men or white men; businessmen, concerned about the financial responsibility of running a country like a company, called slavery a necessary evil. The men called upon to write the bible for directions, later to be called the Constitution, wanted no part of the institution.

Men who owned businesses had depended on the African labor force to manage those businesses, and had to weigh principles and business relating to the bottom line in many of their decisions about the question of what to do with the institution of slavery, and how could you run a country if you dismantled its major work force. The new president, himself a businessman and owner of several slaves, was caught in the big question of truth, justice or business.

The decision to end slavery was defeated by one vote, however, a compromise was decided, and this decision would forever remain a black mark on the soul of the American character and courage to do the right thing. America took its first step into capitalism and place wealth over the need for justice. The new country would give the southern colonies a chance to make the transition into a new labor force, but after 1808, no additional supply of new labor would be imported from Africa. The southern businessmen would be given time to get their cotton crops together and develop markets, which would enable them to contribute to the financial growth of the new country.

The wealth created by the success of the cotton industry created a new type of American, he became a replica of the ruling class replaced by the Revolutionary War. He love the sense of entitlement and class division and began to accept the idea formulated in Christian teachings that it was the will of God that the sons of Ham, known as the peoples of color of the world, serve the white chosen masters of the world. This of course was the theology of white entitlement used by England to subdue the world, and the main reason why slavery was so successful in the new world without major rebellions. The slaves were taught the religion of the White God, and given pictures of that white God. They were permitted to attend churches, although sitting in the balcony, and listen to sermons about this white God. They were even selected to become ministers in the service of these white gods, and accepted all teaching of the wills of these gods.

The Founding Fathers almost lost the vision of a world of justice for all, and it would take another 80 years and another war before America could begin to get itself on the right track. Slavery ended in 1827 in the northern states, but it would not be until 1865 before the country, after losing 650,000 men in battle, declared that no man had the right to own another man in the condition of servitude. The new country struggled along and continues to struggle with the question of its identity and purpose. Is it the land of the European and its white gods of privileged and entitlement, or is it the land of the free and the home of the brave.

As the gods of justice began to raise its hands against Europe causing famine, poverty and plagues, the peoples of Europe looked to the new world and new country as a salvation of hope and survival. Millions of immigrants poured into the urban centers of the country seeking to drink the milk and eat the honey they were told flowed freely on the streets paved with gold.

These immigrants were later to learn that they would have to milk the cows for the milk, fight the bees for the honey, and pave the dirt roads themselves. America always thriving on the challenges of impossible task cared for these millions of immigrants streaming through Ellis Island and shipping ports, which formerly brought bondsmen to these shores. It is also the story millions of African Americans deciding to leave the oppression of an angry injustice south, and take their skills and talents to the urban centers of the north. The story of these two groups is the true story of America, her purpose and her progress. Public school text- books omit the stories of the immigrants, running away from European injustice and struggling through poverty and the slums of the inner cities glad to have a chance at the American dream.

Omitted also are the stories of the American migrations of millions of African Americans, tired of lynch mobs and oppressive segregation, abandoning the land of their birth and traveling the dusty roads to a new freedom with endless possibilities. These are the stories of the reality of America, the acceptance that we all came over here in the bottom of boats, sometimes in chains, but all of us up to the struggle for a chance to a different life.

If Africa were perfect there would be no America; if Europe were perfect there would have been no revolution or America. America is because of the injustice of the world, and it is important to remember the stories of those injustices in order that we do not through arrogance repeat the history of our ancestors.

American theology is the story and belief of our Founding Fathers as inspired men of God, directed to write down the vision for this new world. The sacred writings are the Constitution written by the hand of God on the minds of men detailing how this chosen land and the chosen people will live. These sacred writings do not discourage the acceptance of new people and new cultures into this land.

The rainbow God of America welcomes Her creations from all over the world. She encourages and acknowledges the many paths of faith celebrated by the diverse peoples of the world. Our prophets comes in many colors, religions, and different political persuasions, with one goal in mind, to free all people from oppressions and injustice, and to make this God’s kingdom on earth.

Man in the image and likeness of God is the awaited Messiah, and when man reaches his Messiah stage, he will have fulfilled his mission on earth. After hundred of years of living in the new world as bondsmen, convicts, settlers, servants and slaves, the people had enough of second class treatment and decided that they wanted to live as and be free men. The rejects, those to be punished, those who sought after a new chance in life, were sent to live in this new land of challenge and danger.

The rough, the ragged, the angry and the brave, took whatever weapon they could and with sheer determination, and right on their side, defeated the seasoned armed forces of the British Empire and declared that they were free from the tyranny of far away lands. These men of courage eased out of the British North American Colonies, and united the colonies into separate states; with an appointed group of men they formed a congress, dedicated to representing the hopes and dreams of a new nation. On July 4, 1776, the newly formed Congress of the United States approved the Declaration of Independence. The greatest writer, Thomas Jefferson, became its primary author. The Declaration was an explanation understood by the average man why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain. This was important because there were some who questioned why it was necessary to separate from the motherland. A statement announcing that the thirteen American Colonies were no longer a part of the British Empire and issue the Declaration of Independence in several forms. Published as a printed broadsheet and distributed and read to the public.

Theology of America

             Major themes of the Declaration: individual rights and the right of revolution. These ideas became widely held by Americans and spread internationally as well, influencing in particular the French Revolution. America does not follow the belief structure of Rome as depicted in the magnificent artistic renditions of Michelangelo, his paintings on the sacrifice of Isaac by Abraham is not the best symbol for family life in America. The idea of sacrificing one’s son for a belief system, did not translate over into the new country. Young men were encouraged to step forth live and serve, but blood sacrifices on animal altars were not widely encouraged.                          The people transferred to this undiscovered part of the world brought with them favored and disfavored belief systems, some they would keep, and others they were willing to forget. European churches brought over the practice of witch burning and the destruction and disrespect for the female form as anything other than a pleasure symbol or necessary reproductive vessel. Small groups outside of powerful churches realized that there was wisdom in the female and strength in her form. The new world developed the Mother as sacred and wise.                                   The environment of the new world spoke to the woman, and she spoke to the man explaining what it had to say. The female in America became the head of the family, and the male became the strength of the family. Together they worked out a system of survival founded in thinking, making a decision, and engaging in some form of action. The people in the new world were an occupied force, brought to this part of the world for specific purposed, all related to the accumulation of wealth to be transported to sponsoring foreign governments. The development of skills and techniques for living under the radar of the ruling class was what the people of the new world developed. No head had to be higher than another, all movement had to be carefully orchestrated to move to a specific rhythm so as not to cause attention to anyone. Religious gathering, carefully observed and organized were designed to insure that all people focused on a life after death, and encouraged all members to believe that they were worthless sinners not worthy to live in God’s kingdom. The Church and the Royal families of the world were the keepers of entitlement, and they made the decision on who made the cut.                        Sometimes these decisions could be influenced by monetary contributions. The traditional theology coming out of the Christian Churches was that God was an angry entity and had to be appeased or punishment would be expected, the Church and the Royal families had the lone power to speak to God and for a significant amount of coin, promise or property influence decisions made by the divine. American theology does not enter into the financial barging with God for special privileges; American theology suggests a more partnership arrangement with the almighty. In exchange for doing all the hard work and devoted worship, the powerful partner would remove all the emotional, physical, sociological and environmental obstacles out of the way. Man through his own sheer will and strength would do his part to do the best and be the best, and God through the magic of His power will change hearts attitudes and belief systems of those dedicated to prevent progress. God created a spirit, which moves through the country and causes the country to work for the good of mankind, even when individuals in the country want to do mean and hurtful things to others. This process of paying for God’s favors was the defining factor in the separation. The rules of survival in these early societies were influenced by belief systems, this writer called the American Theology.

Black Christians

Black Church was a major institution in the lives of the Black community and provided the social service needs of the community. Men played significant leadership roles in the church, and were considered role models for the community. Political decisions, economic decision, relational decisions and education decisions were sanctioned and formulated in these sacred locations. Men and women of outstanding intellectual ability were elevated to positions of leadership in the church. The Black Church operated its own teacher training academies; where men and women learned the skills of organizational development, classroom management skills, lesson planning and instructional delivery. Churches operated their own after school programs, Sunday school programs, adult Bible study classes and Seminaries Black Christianity was also different from traditional Christianity. Black people viewed Jesus as a living Savior, guide counselor and friend. It was he who made it possible to endure difficult circumstances in the personal realm and the political realm of society. Black Christians did not develop an anger or rage against the oppressors of the Christian community, who went to church on Sundays, and some wore white sheets on Monday to attend rallies planning violence and even deaths of individuals. The Black Church prevented the development of emotional and mental victim personalities as the results of individuals in the outer society placing obstacles in the pathway of progress for countless men and women of color.                                                                                      Jesus was a God of love, and the Black Church and Black Christianity taught people how to truly love the enemy and not permit the sins of the enemy to become their sins. Men, during and after slavery, were encouraged to study and become preachers, and women were encouraged to study and become teachers. These preachers would hold the family of God together while they endured the trials of living in a hostile environment. The teachers would dedicate themselves to the task of educating the children so that they would be prepared for a world of the future free of oppression. Teachers were believers of a better world and a better future here on earth.                                                Black Christianity focused on the quality of life on God’s earthly plane, while at the same time helping Christians to understand that there was life after life, with God in the heavenly realm. The Black Church and Black Christianity had the most effective anti depression and anti neurotic program in the country. Black Christians learned that the attitudes of the behaviors of other Christians, were not their concern, and they had to work out their own soul salvation.

Black Christians learned how to avoid the psychotic behaviors of other Christians who were determined to destroy them in mind, body and spirit. There was a spiritual separation of the two groups and a separation of theologies presented in the churches. Black Christians learned a Black theology, and a theology of liberation. Crazy was something that the black church could not afford. During slavery, the African learned that any emotional excess could result in cruel behavior from the foreman of plantation and no tolerance from the maters of the plantations. Crazy could result in death or separation; therefore the parents quickly adjusted any child demonstrating less than normal behavior in order to protect the child from the violence and reality of the outside world. Control factors were programmed into children for their own protection.

Mothers were strict as often as they needed to be in order to adjust the behaviors of their children to ensure that they would develop into adults. There was no such thing as freedom of speech and expressions. A free expression or free behavior could result in the view of the plantation owner as a defective property and they were sold off as soon as possible. In order to maintain the stability of the family, mothers had the responsibility to adjusting the behaviors of their children to ensure their safety and the ability to remain and grow up with the family. These family behavior systems proved invaluable, for it prevent the development of mental illness in the slave population, and it also developed techniques and methodologies to change behaviors, which were necessary for survival.

There were also other factors, which prevented the passing on of behavior traits, which could be defined in today’s terminology as emotional disturbance from developing. The slave populations were the human resource work force in the southern parts of the new country. Only very rich people could afford to own a slave or a work force, and the health of that work force determined the success of the business economy for which they were purchased to serve. A worker, who could not carry his own weight, was usually put up for sale in a packaged deal.

During the period after slavery and the emancipation of a non-free class of people, the African American was submitted to a form of man’s inhumanity to man to a greater degree than was experienced during the period of slavery. The safety values were lifted from the large corporations and wealth home owners who could afford a labor force, and the African was at the mercy of a poverty angry population determine to vent their frustrations on any group weak enough to accept punishment with out revenge. Mothers had to devise additional methods of saving their sons and husband from a poverty stricken population. Poverty breed’s violence, and the south was rendered poor as a results of their failure in the Civil War. They could not succeed from the Union, and they were forced to follow the order and directions of the supreme commander coming out of Washington.

The south hated the country, they hated the government and they really hated these free people of color who they held responsible for all of their problems. Africans held tight and close to their families, and instructed their children to control their behaviors when they were in the schools and outside of the families. Families were strong, they were nuclear and extended, and they had a strong set of values with respect to God Family and Education. Excluded from inclusion in most of the activates related to the outside society, the African family continued with its development of strong churches and religious institutions, parallel but different from those found in the predominant white society.

During the period after slavery, the black family had to stay together in order to survive. There was no such thing as a rogue family member stepping out on his own in an attempt to find himself. Such foolishness often resulted in the individuals separating for the family circles becoming the fruit handing from a KKK tree, or a religious sacrifice made by a special group of Christians who believe that God ordered them to kill, burn and hang the different.

The rules of the black family and the Black Church were very clear, and deviation from those rules often resulted Christian actions from the white saved and the white mean. The Black Church not only became the message of the Gospel, but hidden codes of survival for a population selected out to be the scapegoat of a society, which did not know what to do with its frustrations and disappointments. Segregation was precise and honest; people did not like you, did not understand you, and did not want to have any interactions with anyone who was not tall blond and beautiful.

The Black Church became the urban colleges of the African community, and college attendance was mandatory. It was in this college that psychology, sociology, government, political science, business and management, politics of survival was taught. The youth of the Church were forced to read and memorize scripture, and be able to discuss an analytical meaning of chapter verse and intent; as results, the youth who attended Church tended to do well in academic performance in the classrooms in the public schools.

It was in the black church where young people attended Rites of Passage programs and learned how to avoid the pit fall and entrapment scenarios planned by the local police departments. Church provided the skills for survival, and the pastor, as the responsible shepherd of a flock, made sure that all of those in his care know how to survive the mine fields of America. The success of the Civil Rights revolution ended all of that. Black families left the church and their communities and moved into the suburbs of Hades. Children refused to attend non- relevant churches, which were not providing a “hip Hop” message of joy pleasure and possibilities. Women were told that no one has the right to direct or interfere with the social development of another and each person had a right to work out his or her own soul directions. Men felt jealous of their women’s focus on the Jesus stuff and resent any and all time spent in reading the dead prophets literature. Many felt they did not need the Church, Jesus or even the burden of a family always demanding something different from them. White society, still holding a grudge over the failed results of the Civil War, jumped in where the religious void was evident. Some decided to develop programs and capitalize on a people lost in the wilderness; some decided to develop mega prison systems, waiting to the thousands of the lost who usually end up in prisons.

In the midst of all of this, the Black Church lost its voice, the message and the messenger were not relevant, and the shepherd had to find bread to feed himself before he could search out the loaves of bread and two fishes to feed others. Pastors slinked back into their drabbed offices and prepared sermons for the seniors of yesterday, patiently waiting the grand day of their own funeral in the church of their youth. Fortunately for the American society, most Black families stayed the course, taking their work underground but encouraging the development of strong families with strong religious values.

What can we learn of and from this people born in our midst, selected by God to be the foundational and moral character of a developing nation that could help and guide in the establishment of the beloved communities? First it is important to have a purpose and a plan, and second the selection of people who are willing spiritually, physically and emotionally to face the challenges of doing a different thing. Africans selected to come to the British North American colonies were selected for specialized skills necessary for the building of a new nation. The weak, the feeble, the angry, the frustrated were not selected and could not survive, the ocean crossing journey to the promise land. The success of America was written in the selection of the people selected to come, and the countries from which they were selected. The English selected the Irish and the African as the servers, and this group served forth a nation of greatness, born in hardship and diversity, and strong enough to with stand any wind blowing its way. The story of these people of hardship and strength is the story of America and the secrets of her success. If we look close we will find the criteria for the selection of the leader for the free world, and we can see the formula for the selection of the nations representatives.

Churches must again step forward and become the community of God and good. The Southern Baptist convention was originally formed to support slavery in the states; today with spiritual transformation its agenda is to support God in the states and recognition of the humanity of all mankind. Our young people and families must be able to find their God again in the sacred houses of faiths of their ancestors, and not witness, racial, ethnic, class and sexual orientation battles over whose god is righter or whiter than the other, it takes a village to raise a child, and it takes a community to build the kingdom of God on earth.If your denomination is teaching to to hate blacks, whites, gays or immigrants, it is time to change churches. God is around with or without religion and scripture. God is the all and better source of our being, and we are required to do two things and two things only, Love God, and Love Your Neighbor. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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