The reality that African-Americans are not monolithic is apparent to anyone who glances at the black community. Make no mistake about it, the alluded to diversity in appearance, thought, and ambitions is a double-edged sword.
The alluded to diversity is so prevalent among African-Americans that it is often difficult to find areas and issues upon which we agree. In fact, there is only one point of consensus I have discovered, that being, the Black Church is the most important institution within our community. I have been known to state the following routinely, “the black church has been, is, and always will be the most important institution in Black America.”
It is with extreme sadness that I confess to no longer being able to unconditionally make such an assertion as today’s Black Church has lost much of its relevancy.
If you are wondering from whence my increasing pessimism emanates, well I’ll tell you that it begins and ends with men of God who have betrayed the pivotal role that black pastors have played in the struggle to liberate their people. Put simply; the Black Church has fallen into the hands of individuals who have no interest in politicizing their followers for a continuation of a four-hundred-year battle to confront racial bigotry and oppression.
During a recent series of workshops in my hometown of Mansfield, Ohio, designed to both address and formulate a workable plan to close a cavernous racial divide that manifests itself politically, socially, and economically within every fiber of that community, I was utterly shocked to see that local Black Pastors have little concern regarding such pressing matters. Consider for a moment that the local high school attended by the vast majority of African-American students employs a single African-American teacher. Historically speaking, such a grave situation would lead to significant action by Black Church leaders. Unfortunately, contemporary Black Pastors have little interest in such matters as evidenced by their absence from the series of workshops and town hall meetings mentioned above.
The most succinct display of Pastoral indifference was displayed when a Pastor of some notoriety arrived at the venue. After enthusiastically greeting many of the workshop participants, the alluded to man of God took a seat in the rear of the site. Moments later it became apparent why he chose such accommodations as he exited out of an adjacent door moments after the workshop began. There is no doubt that he had neither interest in the seminar or the topic of improving the dire plight of those who faithfully tithed to his ministry on a weekly basis. Unbeknownst to this “man of God,” his hasty exit was noted and termed “shameful” by all participants. Sadly, many participants related that such behavior was fairly representative of the disinterest that local Black Clergy displayed toward any endeavors aimed at uplifting the Black Community. Apparently, these “men of God” are too busy filling their pockets with the tithes and offerings of the poor and downtrodden souls to do anything tangible to address their suffering.
Considering the essential role of the Black Church in the struggle for black improvement, it is not a stretch to lay a sizable portion of blame for the current state of Black America at the feet of Black Clergy who are singularly focused on the accumulation of dollars and the construction of imposing cathedrals that not only tower over their members, but also fail to address their tangible issues in any noticeable way. It is for these reasons that so many within our community not only criticize Black Church leaders for their dereliction of duty but also refuse to support them under any circumstances. Put simply, Black Pastors with their focus on dollars, infidelity, and showmanship have simultaneously abandoned “the Gospel” and rendered the Black Church entirely irrelevant to the lives of the vast majority of African-Americans.
My heaven help us!!!!!!!!!
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race, and Culture, 2017