White Man’s Religion

To be black and in love with Jesus.

Often times, the recitation that “Christianity is a white man’s religion”, neigh, “is a white man’s law”, neigh “is the reason we are still oppressed.” is blasted from trumpets. The ideal that being a Christian means “serving a white man’s God” is sung into microphones, plastered on walls, and repeated aloud time after time like the pledge of allegiance. Only this pledge is one to disavow the resurrected Christ.

In a  previous post, God Complex, I describe how White America has created in its own likeness their own definition of “God.” I note that “The White Man” has been  “convinced that a person’s existence can be illegal, that a land he stole is his property, that legality determines morality- [he] serves a god which he has created in his own image. He serves one that destabilizes countries through imperialism and colonization. He then proceeds to take mission trips to those same places, exploit the poverty, and name himself as the savior of said lands…Without consequence. Without remorse. You… without melanin. You possess the complex of an all powerful deity.”  I stand by this. The white man does indeed serve a white God, and has spent an abundance of history trying to intimidate Black people into doing the same.  

But please don’t believe that your ancestors believed that the same ones who stole them from their land, enslaved, raped, pillaged, and belittled them would be the same ones to rescue them from captivity.  Please don’t believe that your ancestors served some white God.

The main argument opposing  any Black person being of the Christian faith is that it was forced upon ALL people of African Descent, and to this I would look closely at the origin of Christianity which shows that  “By the 4th century A.D., about 10 percent of the residents of the Roman Empire were Christian and the new religion had also made converts elsewhere in the Middle East and Ethiopia“.  (http://history-world.org/origins_of_christianity.htm) and “As African Americans embraced Christianity beginning in the 18th century, especially after 1770, they gathered in independent church communities and created larger denominational structures such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and the National Baptist Convention. These churches and denominations became significant arenas for spiritual support, educational opportunity, economic development, and political activism. Black religious institutions served as contexts in which African Americans made meaning of the experience of enslavement, interpreted their relationship to Africa, and charted a vision for a collective future.” (http://oxfordre.com/americanhistory/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-24).

While many slaves came from regions which had not yet adopted Christianity, and during slavery, white “masters” would reinterpret religious text to fit their agenda and force feed it down the throats of Black peoples, many times African Americans would hold secret services praising the God which they knew to be true. They served a God like them, and knew that the White man was corrupting the word of the Lord. Your ancestors did not serve some white deity. African Americans transformed and reinterpreted the meaning of Christianity. They knew that “have no other God before me” was not in reference to some all powerful white man. They realized that “spare the rod, spoil the child” was not a go ahead to allow the scorn and whipping of their people.

Recollections from slavery :

Charlotte Martin was born into slavery in 1854 (Florida) and recalled “[The plantation owner] would not permit them to hold religious meetings or any other kinds of meetings, but they frequently met in secret to conduct religious services. When they were caught, the ‘instigators’—known or suspected—were severely flogged. Charlotte recalls how her oldest brother was whipped to death for taking part in one of the religious ceremonies. This cruel act halted the secret religious services.”

William Ward was born in the 1830s as a slave (Georgia), and noted “On Sundays the slaves were permitted to have a religious meeting of their own. This usually took place in the backyard or in a building dedicated for this purpose. They sang spirituals which gave vent to their true feelings. Many of these songs are sung today. There was one person who did the preaching. His sermon was always built according to the master’s instructions which were that slaves must always remember that they belonged to their masters and were intended to lead a life of loyal servitude. None of the slaves believed this, although they pretended to believe because of the presence of the white overseer. If this overseer was absent sometimes and the preacher varied in the text of his sermon, that is, if he preached exactly what he thought and felt, he was given a sound whipping.”

Harriet Greshman born a slave in 1838 (South Carolina), recalled that “”A Negro preacher delivered sermons on the plantation. Services being held in the church used by whites after their services on Sunday. The preacher must always act as a peacemaker and mouthpiece for the master, so they were told to be subservient to their masters in order to enter the Kingdom of God. But the slaves held secret meetings and had praying grounds where they met a few at a time to pray for better things.

Your ancestors did what they had to do to avoid being abused, being beaten, and being made a mockery. But- your ancestors knew that the God which White overseers attempted to force down their throats and into their spirits was not the God they served. They knew that this white God was an absurd misrepresentation. They knew that Jesus was not white. They knew that the idea of a white man being beaten and hung for a crime he did not commit as a spectacle was absurd. Your ancestors knew that God was not caucasian.

Resources:

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/nineteen/nkeyinfo/aarsecretmeetings.htm

(http://oxfordre.com/americanhistory/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.001.0001/acrefore-9780199329175-e-24)

(http://history-world.org/origins_of_christianity.htm)