This story actually ran Tuesday when Unconventional Wisdom normally runs, but due to the volume of stories related to the one million visitor milestone I was concerned it got lost in the shuffle. Here it is again, in case you missed it.
By Maya Spikes
I remember sitting in history class as a kid learning about the Civil Rights Movement. It angered me to learn how much more brutal racism was during the 1960s in America. But as a young black Christian, it also made me proud to learn about the black church’s vital role in the movement.
Now I’m just disappointed.
A lot of good folks still go into churches to save themselves. But today, far less of them seem to use their belief in God to reach out and help others.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are some great black, white and multi-racial churches doing outstanding work.
But there are still too many black churches (and churches of all races) that rely on trite answers for today’s issues.
Economy got you down? A common religious answer would be “That’s Wall Street’s fault. You just gotta give all you job worries and money problems to God.”
Absentee fathers? “That’s the single mother’s fault. She shouldn’t have been sleeping around in the first place.”
Kids having trouble in school? “That’s their parents’ fault. Folks need to learn how to raise their own kids.”
I’m sorry, but these answers just aren’t good enough anymore, especially for younger people.
But then again, churches of all races seem to be the most awkward when it comes to dealing with their members who are going through the most awkward phase of their lives.
When I was in my teens, the Sunday school lessons seemed to become less relevant to what I was going through.
I needed someone to tell me how to deal with kids teasing me for “sounding white.” And I thought that being a young woman of faith had to mean more than just keeping my legs crossed. I was probably too scared to ask these questions. And it didn’t seem like anyone at church wanted to talk about such issues anyway.
And now the black church is remaining silent on deadly issues, such as the rising rate of HIV/AIDS cases among heterosexual blacks, particularly heterosexual black women.
The black church’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on sex has been (to borrow a Black Snob term) a “massive fail."
It obviously hasn’t worked to prevent or at least slow down the number of folks having unprotected sex. So the black church might as well start having honest discussions about sex so that more people will start protecting their bodies. And maybe more people who are already sick will not be ashamed or unaware about getting medical treatment.
What we have here is not only a failure to communicate, but also a failure to act.
Jesus knew that his message wouldn’t effectively reach people if he didn’t meet people’s physical needs first. This is why he fed those who were hungry and healed the sick.
Now I’m not asking anyone to feed 5,000 people in one day. But if there’s a homeless shelter near your church, you could volunteer to help in the kitchen.
There are students who need mentors and tutors.
Or perhaps you and a few of your fellow church members know of a few companies that are actually hiring. If so, a job fair that’s open to the community would be another great idea.
Rosa Parks sitting in the front part of a bus may have been the symbolic start of the Civil Rights Movement.
But now it’s time for Christians of all races to stop just sitting in the church pews. We are long overdue for action. We need to stop being judgmental and start taking steps to help others.
That’s the only way we can continue to overcome.
Maya Spikes is a writer and regular reader of The Black Snob.