We have slipped the surly bonds of slavery and yet willingly wear the iron shackles of faith.
Slavery, an entrenched economic, social, and political system involving vast interests was driven by the appetite for maximum profit, no matter how inhumane the process.
Now, in our present society, has the black church adopted the plantation economic platform, becoming so focused on preaching a message of capitalism and individualized gain for the attainment of economic success and personal prosperity, that it has lost sight of its initial calling— serving as the voice for equality and justice and functioning as a service institution for spirituality, emotional support and social improvements? In effect, has it become the master, profiting from the work of its slaves, the congregation?
The black church, once connected to the ills of society, possessed a sense of responsibility to bring about change and benefits for its parishioners. Has the word as the changing force of our lives become overshadowed by the message of the dollar? Have we witnessed the rise of the black church, where all forms of aid were one given, become a wealth factory and capital-production centre? Receiving financial richness as a direct result of the word, is acceptable, but greed, costly personal possessions and extravagance by the masters were never meant to be the focus of the message.
Where are the works the chastising word speaks of when combined profits are estimated to be in the billions? Could this massive accumulative pile of money be used to support the black community, whose money it is, to overcome the crucial costs of education, housing, unemployment, healthcare and creating businesses, rather than building larger theatrical plantations where the slaves flock and drop their money into plates for entertainment and spiritual highs? And with having built one of the wealthiest systems in the country, should the contributors still look to the political system or POTUS to resolve their ills when they could erase their ills themselves?
No one can dismiss the importance of religion to the African American community. Its roots lie in the introduction of a God who would change their earthly torment to heavenly bliss. It gave slaves and poor Blacks a reason to continue getting up to tote that bale while making their earthly master prosperous. However, should it not be the responsibility of the black church with its new wealth gained by compromising the message of the gospel with a message of capitalism, to have as its beneficiaries, those who are enslaved to it with their contributions?
Surely, it would bode well for the modern church to consider sharing all that accumulated wealth to change the continued torment of its needy flock. Is it not time to open the doors of the big house, not only for the slave’s contributions, but to have the slaves join the feast?
By Gloria Ann Wesley