I'll say it again, Monica Roberts is brilliant-and courageous. She has written a poem called They Don't Want No Sissy Church.
Monica takes on the church. I have been warned not to do that. Don't Go There! Especially the black church. Do Not Go There. I've been warned.
As Monica points out it is ironic that the very institutions that were the foundation and in the forefront of the civil rights movement are the same institutions that are providing strong support and ammo for Bush's deplorable, divisive attitudes and policies.
It doesn't matter whether we are regular church-goers or not, church teachings are ingrained and have been since slavery. I understand it is because the hope and strength it provided got us through the hardest of times making it difficult to question or accept new ways of looking at God and in particular the Bible. Questioning is not encouraged, it shows a lack of faith. Re-examining is not encouraged and will often get you kicked out. (See 20/20's report this Friday 7/13, to see a conservative mega church pastor who re-examined hell and the Bible and was ousted from his church.)
The teachings in the black church are often the basis of thinking (or not thinking) for most black people. I saw very funny comedienne Sherri Shepherd co-hosting on The View. The subject of evolution came up. She declared she believes her Bible not science.
I believe the literal interpretation of the Bible along with the don't think attitude is behind many of the social and cultural ills we face. Why has there always been an absence of science related black professionals? Science vs Bible?
Why is HIV/AIDS beyond plague status in my community. Much to blame are the anti-gay attitudes coming from the church. Yes, many churches now may have HIV/AIDS education etc. with love the sinner hate the sin approach, but the attitude for GLBT shame and the HIV/AIDS stigma is still overwhelming.
Why are our children killing each other? Where is the moral strength that used to come from the church? Certainly there is no lack of churches because there are sometimes three or four to a block. Count them, Moni and I have, it's unbelievable. and yet...
Is it because literal application of the Bible can lack relevance to today's world? God knows we aren't in the old covenant and that we drive cars, and women work, and planes fly, and we use the Internet. Where is the common sense? I'll betcha God is wondering about that. Gave them common sense and a brain, but they don't use them.
The Bible is the most wonderful guide for life. Common sense should tell us however that rules meant to keep people safe, prosperous and in order, in that time, don't always apply now. I believe God assumed we would know that.
I am not saying that black churches are not good places full of good people that do good things, they can be. I certainly cannot put every black church and congregation into a lump, there are certainly exceptions. I know also the problems we face are multi-faceted. The black church is certainly a strong presence and foundation of the community. So, I'd love to see that foundation strengthened by allowing people to open their minds, use their brains, re-examine, and grow without fear to become a strong, relevant, inclusive foundation built on open hearts, and minds that know God didn't stop speaking to us ages ago.
Jesus told us he is not going to be here always and directed us to do what he did and better. And Better.