Whether the Southern Baptist Convention decided, on paper, to condemn the “alt right” or not, the black community has packed its bags and moved on from an inhospitable, unwelcoming American Christianity. Anyone who really has their feet or at least their ear to the streets clearly understands that the climate has changed dramatically over the last several years when it comes to the credibility of the church in the black community. There have always been many in the black community who have been skeptical about Christianity as well as the existence of cults who plague the community. However, there at least had been a strong influence and presence of congregations in the community whether they were preaching sound doctrine or not. However, this cultural Christianity in the black community is evanescent.
Not only have many churches in the black community faded out due to lack of resources, but many people are leaving due to the persuasion that Christianity is the “white man’s religion.” A lack of strong apologetics has helped perpetuate this mentality, for one, but so has the attitude many Christians, particularly conservative whites, in America hold in regard to systemic injustice. The black community in general thinks of the American church as a religion which generally disregards institutional racism, whether in the American past or present. So while strange fruit continues to hang from our trees, and cages continue to be filled with singing birds, the churches ship their resources to third world countries, more conferences, or building funds for suburban church plants.
Without exaggeration, the black community has run out of trust for preachers in America. Preachers are looked at on the same level of dirty politicians, and not just the preachers with wealth. The black community has become deaf to what preachers have to say, and not just because of the false prosperity preachers, but because of preachers who neglect to seek justice for people of color. People of color rightly have become deaf to these preachers as even our Lord closes his ears to the prayers of those who neglect this task (Isaiah 1:15).
Many preachers justify their neglect by declaring that their duty is only “spiritual”—about where people’s soul will end up in eternity. They are not to be distracted by “worldly issues.” However, even the task of crossing the tracks to proclaim the good news to the black community has been neglected greatly by those who spend millions every year to take the Gospel across the sea.
Unfortunately, those Christians who see the error of the church in America and are speaking out against it, get more and more confirmation from the majority that the Church in America really does not care about the issues of the black community. The church in America finds the issues of the black community unfortunate, but not enough to put their hands to the plow.
I myself cannot identify with apathetic Christians who seek to silence those who cry out against injustice, who claim the Gospel is defiled when Christians are active in liberating the oppressed, who support politicians that advance the kingdom of darkness which oppresses dark people. This mentality is not new, rather it was birthed here during the enslavement of Africans. The idea that social issues only matter when dealing with abortion, health care reform, taxes, marriage, and education is a convenient Christianity. God’s law not only applies there, but also in justice, civil rights, due process, and equal protection of the laws. No longer can American Christians continue to claim ignorance when their inconsistencies expose their intelligence to comprehend that which is plain even to many atheists.
The truth is, the controversy over one statement condemning racism by the SBC is almost a waste of energy. The SBC has already issued a statement in the past as a repentance of their racist history. What really matters is what actions have been taken in light of the racial injustices of our day now. What really matters is the worldview of the pastors in the SBC or in any other church in America as it pertains to the church’s role in social injustice. The SBC can write 100 more resolutions condemning racism and the “New Jim Crow” can still thrive, black men can still be abused tomorrow by police, redlining can still be in effect, and more black people will leave their church seeking answers elsewhere. While black men and women in the Church were grieving and in shock of what happened, the unbelieving world is not shocked, and continues to perish, with blood on our hands, while we continually beat a dead horse that died long time ago.
There is much work to do for the sake of the Gospel, and with endurance many have spent their lives fighting the battle to convince professing Christians that God actually cares about black people. Although we are to be longsuffering with our brothers and sisters, this conversation needs an expiration date due to the fact that many have made it apparent, by their actions, and sometimes preaching, too, that actually seeking justice for blacks in America is another gospel. If they preach this way, blacks will eventually believe them: that is, that they have another Gospel. Christians, whether black or white, who are awakened to the realities of our day, must find peace by dropping the dead weight. We must take our energy and invest more into proclaiming the true Gospel of Jesus with all its implications and applications to the world, so that we do not continue to give them occasion to blaspheme.