The Potential of the Black Church

Civil Rights activist Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. standing at pulpit delivering his sermon as a white-robed choir listens in the bkgd. at Ebenezer Baptist Church. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

A big criticism that some Black women have of Black men is that we have not built anything.   This statement is usually made on social media as an excuse as to why many Black women do not want to get involved in romantic relationships with Black men.   There are many examples that can used to refute this particular notion, however, I will only to use one example: The Black Church.

The Black Church is the most powerful institution in Black America.   As an institution there are millions of members organized into several denominations made up of thousands of churches from the storefront church next to the liquor store to the mega-churches sitting on several acres of land.  Indeed the power ministers weld in some denominations is akin to the power welded by heads of state in many parts of the world.   These organizations were founded by Black men.  This is just the Black Christian church.

There are many organizations in the Black community that follow religious and spiritual paths outside of Christianity.  These organizations follow Islamic paths, Hebrew paths, and there are also several shrines that follow African Traditional Religions (ATR).   The overwhelming majority of these organizations were founded and maintained by Black men.  Indeed with the exception of the ATR shrines the very nature of these organizations are patriarchal.

The argument that Black men haven’t built anything falls flat on its face.   That isn’t the focus of this blog.   Though these religious and spiritual organizations have done many great things I feel the potential of the collective Black Church, and by extension, non-Christian organizations, has barely been scratched.   There is so much these churches and spiritual organizations can accomplish.

One of the first things that these churches can do is come together with the purpose economically empowering the Black community.   There are churches that economically empower its members through credit unions and some even own businesses as well as commercial and residential real estate.   This could be expanded to the greater community.   For example the church denominations could come together and create a nationwide network of banks, retail stores, grocery stores, and restaurants.   Some could even come together and buy some of these empty malls.   The economic potential is great as literally millions of jobs could be created overnight.

This economic power could translate to political power.   The best way to stop police brutality is not marching and asking for someone else to stop this practice.  With economic power comes the ability to control politicians.  Politicians in turn can reign in the excesses of police forces.   Also control over politicians brings other needed services to the community.

The Black Church could impact the social fabric of the greater Black community.   A question that many people have is why, when there seems to be a church on every corner of the Black community and indeed Blacks as a group have the largest percentage of members in religious/spiritual institutions in this country, is the Black community in such a shambles?   The reason is that while many Pastors, and indeed Imams, Rabbis, and Priests can admonish their followers, the greater community is left to rot so to speak.

There was a time the church and other spiritual institutions took a more active role in the greater community.   For the Black Church to truly have an impact it must become the center of the community again.   The Church needs to speak out more forcibly on all issues that negatively impact the Black community.

Right now even with the major denominations, individual churches act as independent fiefdoms.   Some ministers even have security forces and private airplanes.   It’s time these ministers put their ego to the side and see the bigger picture.   The Black Church is the most organized institution in the Black community.   There is great potential to make a great change.   It’s time the Black Church acts on that potential.

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