Opinion

The Black Church and Social Justice, It’s Time to Say Something and Do Something

By Staff Writer | Khalil Hakim

In every personal contact that Jesus Christ made with anyone in the bible, their life was changed dramatically for the better. Jesus Christ has the ability to step into any condition or circumstance to change it for the better. It’s obvious that when you read the Gospels of Jesus Christ that he was a radical. He challenged the religious authority, spoke truth to power, and defied one of the most powerful empires in history.

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Jesus Wasn’t a Conservative

He wasn’t a conservative because he didn’t come back to preserve the status quo but to shake it to its very foundation.He wasn’t burdened with the need to be liked by people. He wasn’t moved by the desire for expediency or convenience. Instead, he simply allowed truth to reign supreme.

It’s time for all black churches to embrace the heart of Jesus Christ not just by quoting scripture but by letting their actions speak louder than their words.

When the woman who was caught in adultery in the bible was about to be stoned to death, Jesus didn’t pray for her an go back to business as usual. He said something. His mighty act of speaking out, saying “Let he without sin cast the first stone,” saved her life.

Blacks Leaving the Church

The black church is in a precarious position in 2017 because many black people are turning away from the church. The reasons vary, but one the main reasons is the black community, in general, thinks of the American Church as a religion, which generally, disregards institutional racism, mass incarceration, police brutality – whether in America’s past or present.

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So while strange fruit remains hanging from our trees and cages continue to be filled with singing birds. The black church is silent and seems almost indifferent concerning the plight of the people it ministers to every day.

While the black church prophesies to young black people, who they are in Christ, and that what God has for you is for you, the black church and churches generally refuse to speak out against dismantling the system that has oppressed African-Americans and continues to suppress.

The black community has become deaf to what preachers have to say because of the 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 – saying,

“When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! (Isaiah 1:15).”

These pastors would rather scripture the issue away as if there is not a biblical responsibility to speak the truth and then do something.

The Bible calls Jesus Christ the truth and yet church leaders are afraid to speak the truth. How can you have the truth, and not speak the truth, is the question many in black America are asking?

The Black Church can no longer be quiet about the injustices that happen in the same neighborhoods where they minister.

The Black Church can no longer pacify its member’s and then tell them to pray and then be quiet concerning Social Justice issues.

No action, no voice, and no change seem to be the MO of the church in the Black Community. Not all Black church’s, but not enough are speaking out.

How can we be silent while the very people that we minister to are suffering under an unjust system that oppresses them socially and economically? The responsibly to say something is not just for those folks we minister to but to the ones we don’t minister to also. You know Pookie and Ray-Ray need to have the Black Church speak on their behalf. They all need the Black Church to say something because nobody wants to know how much you know until they know how much you care.

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The Black Church Has Lost Credibility

The Black Church has lost credibility as the voice of the black community. The Black Church has gone the way of building big churches instead of building its community. The Black Church seems more interested in how many members it can get versus “how can I positively affect the lives of the members I have?”

Let me repeat this: This is not every Black Church, but too many are silent and say nothing while the community looks to them to lead; they lead from the rear.

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The Black Church Must Speak!

The Black Church needs to say something because Dr. King echoed these powerful words in his letter from the Birmingham jail:

“Wherever the early Christians entered a town the power structure got disturbed and immediately sought to convict them for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But they went on with the conviction that they were a ‘colony of heaven’ and had to obey God rather than man. They were small in number but big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’ They brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contest. Things are different now. The contemporary Church is so often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the Church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the Church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things as they are.”

Dr. King’s uncompromising stance to speak truth to power caused many newspapers to write articles against him; Civil Rights organizations voted resolutions against him, preachers came out against him, and his invitation to the White House was canceled.

He didn’t subscribe to the God’s gonna bless you theology; he adhered to the dogma of you gotta say something. No need to shout folks down and give them 3-points and a poem and then whoop out a hymn, if you don’t speak out when they are being oppressed by systemic racism.

 

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Dr. King recognized that the Black community needed a voice that would address its needs and not just give them a sermon on Sunday and then send them out into the neighborhoods to deal with a broken judicial system – that is affectionately called a justice system by those that it works for – when true justice is just a pipe dream for them.

Dr. King chooses to be one of the titans of the Black Church that lead the movement for social justice.

He gave a harsh critique of the Black Church, and it was needed.

The Black Church can no longer take the immortal words of Dr. King and file them away in their mental storehouse, never to be applied to the current situation of social injustice that plagues our community today. To do that makes the legacy of Dr. King devoid of relevance.

The black community is riddled with major issues that need to be addressed. From education, police brutality, mass incarceration, voting rights discrimination, poverty, all ills caused by systemic racism. Racism and oppression need to be called out and called out in the public square.

I’ll leave you with this quote by Rev. Dr. William Barber the head of the NAACP Chapter in North Carolina:

“That is why I’m so concerned, about those that say so much—about what God says so little, while saying so little—about what God says so much.” The Black Church needs to speak the heart of God in the spirit of the prophet Ezekiel who was given one command by God, and that was SPEAK!!! Speak the truth, speak hope, speak love but SPEAK!!! SILENCE IS NO LONGER AN OPTION!!

For more information on Dr. King’s life as a radical checkout Orisabiyi William with Contributing Editor Liz Varmecky Frank lastest piece Tavis Smiley, author and talk show host, brings the untold story of Dr. King to Tulsa in a new stage production.”


img_7672Khalil Hakim is a former Veteran of the U.S. Air Force and holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Telecommunications. Hakim also studied Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary. Hakim was the pastor of Shekinah Glory for 14 years. He is a poet and the author of the critically acclaimed novel “Fade to Black”. He is also the founder of 4KB Publishing as well as a Staff Writer for the Black Wall St. Times.

 

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