Historical Black Church And America’s Cultural Values

  Here from the beginning of the Republic, it is time to look at the role of the church in forming the values about America- it is not religion, it is living for the sake of others.      

We did it before, and we can do it again – time to revive the Christian message

The failure of Christianity may be the hidden cause of the increase in drug addiction and depression in America. The role of the church has changed. The role of Christian teaching has switched from helping people to sustain themselves in a difficult complex world, to a role of preparing people to die- go to heaven and meet Jesus. Those who cannot accept those teaching are doomed to hell – ignored and forgotten.

The idea that people are no good condemned creatures from the moment of birth is wrong, and Christianity – churches and pastors are wrong for teaching hopeless concepts. God is a God of love and compassion, and Jesus- the Son and messenger- is a friend sent here as man to walk with man through the struggles of life. American Christianity is different from world Christianity, and when we follow world Christianity we lose our message and our people.

American Christianity is about going into the dark places with a person- sitting with him and holding his and, and become his light as he find his way out of the dark hole. Don’t be so focused on God until you neglect the man. Worshipping God is done through helping man. A hurting child, woman, man, individual or group is and should be the total focus  of those calling themselves American Christians.

The Founding Fathers set the vision of who were are and how we are to demonstrate the Christ in our lives. We are our brother’s keeper and we are called upon to bear each other’s burden- when someone commits suicide, it is a mark of our failure. Sometimes we need to put the Bible down and look into the eyes of our neighbor, our mate and our children- it is there that we will find the heart of God. American theology is different. European christianity focus on history, scripture, suffering,violence, sacrifice and blood atonement. We respect the history and struggle of the ancient prophets, but America, the Modern day Israel, had to make some major adjustments.

 American Christianity teaches that man is never alone- whether living in servitude and bondage- or born in the worst slums or richest emotionally deprived mansions of the world. Man comes into life through pain- suffering the challenges of enduring all the abuses of being in an enclosed space for 9 months- surviving on whatever his mother chooses to take into her system- bashing its delicate head through narrow bony passages and being ripped from the safe sanctuary of the womb- and dragged head first into a new world.

It was God that sustained the life- it was God that gave the child the strength to survive and get born. For many- life would repeat the process of enduring- sustaining and birth. African Americans, born into slavery, in the colonies- learned of this God of power- strength and friendship- and when the re-birth into an outer world of freedom- they knew how to survive. Churches for African Americans could not be heaven waiting rooms- or hell’s distribution centers- churches had to constructed like a womb- ready to handle whatever the body was subjected. Life for African Americans was no bed of roses- and life had to continue- it could not survive without planned help. Historical Black Churches were more than spiritual guide centers, they were universities of life – and all children and adults were expected to go for the higher education principles of life.

Without regular attendance in the university of life- individuals will feel a void in life – which they will attempt to fill with pharmaceutical drugs and alcohol- all designed to change the way the brain process events- feeling and consequences. Without church- man feels he is entitled to a smooth feel good life and is unwilling to experience the down time of human existence. Slaves had to learn how to self sooth- separate event and circumstances from defining identity- and go to that God place- reaffirming him as an image and likeness of a protective creator.

The outer world does not define who or what an individual is or can be- that program was placed in the foundational seeds of life forming creation inside of the womb. What a man is and can become was already determined when life created itself- with the help of God in the womb of the beginning. In the beginning the life sustaining force- the Christ- was there to help with the growth and development stages. Disconnecting from the God source at any stage in life will require artificial substances to feel the experience of reconnection. Drug addicts seek to reconnect with the missing variable of spirituality. Man without God becomes an addict- and elimination of the God factor will lead to death.

The Historical Black Churches knew this factor- and encouraged continual attendance in all church activities. Church activities were not sin blaming sessions or preaching hell fire and brimstone messages- demeaning the human soul- men do not attend services where male bashing and image destructions sermons are given.

Today many churches have returned to the traditional European Christian model of churches as holding centers for sinners- unworthy of any of the graces of God. Perhaps in an effort to address issues of drug addictions epidemic in the white middle and upper class communities around the country- we could look at how the African American handled an insensitive outer world- without destroying itself. These references to the black church and black christianity could be useful to someone going through personal pain. Christians bullied, tortured, created a body of science proving the inferiority of groups, prevented employment, set prison traps, and did everything to crush the spirit of a group, and still “They Rise.” The Black man’s shoes, are the shoes of America, but it is also the source of the strength of America. Before taking your life, find your black soul, it is the source of your strength- then as soon as you can, move away from the source of your pain, and create your life- you will find plenty of friends on your path.

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 its 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. Those seeking relief from depression should look at some of the research on the Historical Black Church. Depression is a pain- a deep pain placed there often by human interactions in life. What causes the response to those interactions are private and individual- but how to get out of a dark hole has been documented by those surviving extreme oppression- and developing internal and external methods of saving the soul. In The Historical Black Church, the soul was the living entity inside of man. The fragil self, the essence of being- noone has the right to destroy the soul and the will to live. Find a spiritual group who understands what it means to live in a duality of existence; wearing the mask the mask of conformativity while at the same time being true to who you are at the core of your being.

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 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 masters of the plantations. Crazy could result in death or separation from family and 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. Personality disorder control, were programmed into children for their own protection.

This suggests that some degree of social and emotional freedom are necessary for the child to develop some of the neurological challenges expressed in ADD/ADHD and even some parts of the Autism Spectrum. Could neurological challenges of children have survive during slavery or the concentration camps of Germany? Further research is necessary to determine what part extreme social control and structure played in the development of a strong mind and strong body. The research could look at the difference in inner city children and affluent suburban children, and compare neurological strengths.

Mothers were structured and strict and adjusted the behaviors of children to make sure they would develop into adults. There was no such thing as freedom of speech and expressions. The mind did not have the freedom to focus on every sound- feeling or analyze events in life. All physical and cognitive energies were dedicated to survival. Parents imprinted on children the behaviors necessary to survive in dangerous environments. 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 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. A slave was 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 seem to have lost focus with the modern world. Young people were not interested in studying history but technology and if Abraham Isaac and Jacob, did not have smart phones or had to handle the issues of the 21st century, the young were not interested. Life was still a dangerous place, but churches were no longer support centers for family struggles, and were focused on salvation, being “Born Again” and securing a ticket into Heaven. Life between birth and Heaven could span many years, and churches were not providing the guided for surviving those years. People were smiling and joking on the outside, but deeply depressed on the inside.

Churches did not address issues of sexual abuse in the home or abuse of women helpless and submitting to behaviors of spouses and providers. Churches did not see the pain in the eyes of frail children being bullied in school and having no place to turn. Churches with its eyes turned to heaven ignored the fact that girls were turning mean, and taking their frustrations out on other girls – and making life unbearable for so many silent suffers. The Historical Black Churches focused on issues of human behavior and the concerns of its people to make sure they were following the will of a living God and not just the stories of an historical God. Pastors and lay-leaders of the church paid attentions to the fabric of life of the congregation. A man could not beat his wife from Monday to Friday and show up on Sunday morning to serve God. The pastor of the church would have called him on his behaviors- because the sisters of the church would have come to the aide of the abused wife. Marital problems were spiritual problems, and as such were the responsibility of the spiritual leader of the congregation.

Children were in Sunday school classes, special retreats and week – day after school activities, and the teachers were trained to observe and report emotional stress. Spiritual youth development focused on day to day real life activities, and the same discipline and emotional structure required to survive slavery, were taught to young men who had to survive encounters with policemen looking to punish and deviant behaviors. Surviving the streets were an important part of Rites Of Passage programs. And, always preparing to go to college, it was believed that if the church could get its youth into college, they would be all right; God, family and education were the focus of the Historical Black Church. The Negro could not have survived slavery without the extraordinary efforts of the woman- supporting her man and guiding her children.

The African American could not have survived the period after slavery- the violent period in America, without the Historical Black Church. The Civil Rights success – ushered in a decline of the need for these major institutions of society. Mistakenly people began to feel that the church was not relevant, some thought they could get by without God. The stories of how people made it through the wilderness were no longer told in religious sermons, and churches serving Black congregations, switched to the White Christian format, Southern Baptist style. They became Fundamentalist Centers and strict Bible Word Centers. Man’s life and concerns were not important, only the Words and content of scripture were important.

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; living for the sake of others disappeared from religion. Those churches that did survive, preached hate sermons against the rejected, the gays, different faiths and those who would not quote scripture. Some men sought the need to silence the women by teaching a strict Pauline doctrine- telling women to be silent in the church.. ; other 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. Churches became holding senior citizens centers, waiting for the day when they would cross over the River of Jordan.

White society, educated through the American school system, to believe that the African American was an inferior species, incapable of learning and 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. Churches today are pregnant with possibilities, it is time for the rebirth of the Savior and the mission. Churches can turn the moral fabric of the society around, as it seeks to teach what is means to be a Christian, not just quoting the word, but becoming a living symbol of the word. We need to take a look at the Historical Black Church and the Quakers. There were peoples of God, black and white, who made this a nation under God, we need to tell and relive – even expand that story – that is America.

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply