No Church In The Wild: How The White Church Has Destroyed America
“Lies on the lips of a priest” — No Church In The Wild verse performed by Jay-Z.
The white church, in America, was the biggest beneficiary of the proceeds garnered from slavery. The slaveowners created an institution, here in America, to absolve them of their sins. All but the evilest sadist or psychopath appreciated that slavery was a vile and contemptable industry. Thomas Jefferson owned 600 slaves during his life time and admitted that slavery was “a moral depravity.” He described it as a “hideous blot” and yet he continued to own slaves.
These slavers attempted to acquit their conscious by feigning piety. Every steeple they funded was to mitigate the rape of a slave they had committed. Every pew they purchased was to obfuscate that they had condemned their own offspring to a life of toil and hardship. Every time they placed money into the offering it was to combat the fact they had purchased and sold human beings based only on the color of their skin. These wealthy white slave owning men created and were the wealthy patrons of the churches in the South. So that every Sunday, from the pulpit, they could be lied to and their soul assuaged that the institution of slavery was ordained by God.
The white church, in America, fails to adhere to the radical teachings of Jesus Christ. The idea of loving your neighbor, in the white church, only means loving your neighbor who is white, and anyone who is not white, you do not have to adhere to this command. Its altruism is rooted in colonialism. They send missionaries to far-flung places on the globe. You see the same pictures of a white missionary with blue-black Africans with a sandy background. Many times these blue-black Africans are flashing toothy grins in the photographs. This type of altruism is safe, because these dark-skinned people are an ocean away with zero prospects of coming here. The missionary is the conduit, and his stories of the dire and untenable conditions of these poor Africans makes your heart sing. They might share a story of the poor literacy rate that engulfs the village. Or the idols or witchcraft they worship or perform as a tug on your heartstrings. Perhaps, a story that they heard of young girls being subjected to a ritual of female genital mutilation, and the white church opens their wallets and pocketbooks and make a special offering to save the wretched of the Earth.
These reports from missionaries were common during the Jim Crow years of America. These were not missionaries for any God that created the heavens and the Earth, but the God of white supremacy. Standing in front of the crucifix and near the pastor, preacher, or priest, this missionary had the appearance of the anointment of God. His descriptions from the field, subtly and overtly told white people that despite any of the maltreatment that black people received here in America, it was a far better existence than where they came from. It created a nasty narrative that slavery was a gift to those few, lucky, Africans that we brought over here. In slavery we, the benevolent white people, taught them how to be a farmer, carpenter, blacksmith, domestic, cook, and tend to children. Through slavery we gave black people a life. Most importantly, we shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.
It is the sentiment that is juxtaposed to the images in the news and first-hand accounts of black people marching in the streets for civil rights. This is the context that a white parishioner views the steady stream of lawsuits, which seek to strike down the separate-but-equal legal standard that white people allowed to exist. It is the frame of reference, in which a white person whose child’s school is about to be integrated perceives the news. Even today, its the lens white people look at the deaths of unarmed black people being killed by police officers. Flint and Jackson do not have clean water, no big deal neither does Africa. The white missionary has introduced the haplessness of black and brown people around the globe, it his photographs and words that allow white people to feel ambivalent about the barriers they have created for those same black and brown bodies in America.
Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., stated the most segregated day and hour in America was 11:00 AM on a Sunday. When white people, who were supposed to be preaching the Gospel forbid black people from entering their houses of worship. The sermons from the pulpits might be similar, but the message was radically different. For example the story of the Good Samaritan that is usually taught or preached in a white church ignores the context of where this stranger’s beaten body was found. It was on a winding and curvy mountain. Many robbers and bandits laid in wait looking for travelers who were alone or who could easily be over-powered. The preacher fails to mention that the first person who saw the beaten stranger, was from the same race as the stranger. That this person who saw his brother in need of help was a priest and yet he just continued on his way. The second person who saw him was a Levite, an exalted member of the Hebrew tribes who assisted the priest in religious ceremonies. This religious man also ignored his brother and continued on his way. It was the Samaritan, who was looked down upon by those in the Hebrew tribes as inferior who risked his own safety to render aid. This part of the story is totally left out of the white teaching of this parable. That this lowly Samaritan who was alone and saw a man in help. A man, who most likely would not have stopped and provided medical attention to him, in the exact circumstances.
What the Samaritan did is engage in what MLK has labeled dangerous altruism, in his book “The Strength to Love.” This person did not know if this was a trap, set by robbers or bandits. He did not know if the man was actually injured or just lying in wait. All he knew was that a person was injured and needed assistance. If he did not help the man, I think he believed who would. This Samaritan risked his own safety his own life to provide aid to a man whose people despised him. Truth told, this man might have harbored ill-will towards Samaritans, yet that did not prevent the Samaritan to stopping and doing his best to tend to the man’s wounds. The Samaritan then lifted the man and placed him on his mule to carry him to an inn. Where he told the innkeeper to tend to the man’s wounds and make sure he was cared for until he returned. This Samaritan emptied his wallet and gave the innkeeper all he had and promised him full-payment when he came back. The Samaritan went into debt for a stranger that he did not know, who was off a different race from him, because the man was in need. The Samaritan had engaged into a dangerous altruism.
If this was taught in the white churches since the dawn of this nation, what a better and more vibrant America we would find ourselves in. Instead, the white Church were more fixated on the words of Cain “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The white church in America decided to lift-up the words of a murderer over the acts of a man who saw all men as his brothers.
In the black churches of America the preacher provides the context of the actions of the Good Samaritan, so that the congregation knows how extraordinary and selfless a deed this man performed. That the body of the Church may see everyone as needing protection or better yet, that the body of Christ is the keepers of their brothers and sisters.
“Human beings in a mob
What’s a mob to a king?
What’s a king to a God?
What’s a God to a non-believer
Who don’t believe in anything?
Will he make it out alive?” — No Church In The Wild By Jay-Z and Ye.
The myth we allow to be told is that only the worst dregs of society participated in racial violence that terrorized this nation. That is a lie. Many of the participants were the pillars in the community. They would intimidate, torture, lynch, rape and murder on a Saturday night and be dressed in their Sunday’s best, sitting in the front pew at church the following morning. The members of the white church were the same people who filled the ranks of the Klu Klux Klan.
The white church, in America, has failed America, because it was not incepted to be anything other than what it is: an alter at the foot of the throne of white supremacy. The Jesus of the white church is meager. It is not the Jesus that tossed tables and whipped tax-collectors and others who defiled his Father’s temple. It is not the Jesus that congregated with the down-trodden and undesirables. From the reactions of many white evangelical Christians, concerning student loan forgiveness, they would have opposed Jesus’s miracle of feeding the large crowd with the fish and bread, because it was not fair to those who had packed their lunch.
The white church preaches a meek Jesus and not the Jesus of radical love. It preaches a Jesus who maintains the status quo, instead of a Jesus who confronted the Jewish laws that he found to be unjust and not in accordance with his Father’s will. To be blunt the only way you can find the Jesus that resides in the Bible, at many of the white churches that dot America, is if you squint. That is why white church attendance is at an all-time low in America. Many Christians refuse to attend church, because the sermons are feeble and the congregants are fragile. Who they find sitting in the pews are antithetical to their vision for America. A vision of hope, opportunity, and the ability for all to be embraced and welcomed.
The white church was first created in America to buttress and support the institution of slavery now it continues to prop-up white supremacy. That is why it is dying in America. Good riddance.