Today is the last day of Kwanzaa, Imani, which means “Faith.” I wanted to use today to talk about my faith, and why I’ve lost touch with religion.
I feel that religion hasn’t done much for the Black community (I would go as far as to say men in general, but I’ll just stick to the Black community for the most part). I look around most Detroit neighborhoods, and all I see is dilapidation, despair, hopelessness and anger. Yet, the nicest buildings on each block are the churches. To me, that’s a major issue. These churches are depriving the people in those communities of their hard-earned money and not doing anything to improve their condition now.
Granted, it’s not all churches, but there are too many that don’t offer anything to the people other than Jesus. They don’t provide employment, food, clothing, shelter, or education to help them improve their situation. I’m sure that God does wonderful things and is capable of making miracles happen, but I think it’s unlikely that Black people are going to wake up one day and discover our problems are suddenly gone.
If I may paraphrase Dr. Umar Johnson: The church is doing everything in its power to get Black people ready for heaven, but doesn’t address the political, educational, economic, and sociological hell they dwell in now.
I guess I didn’t like the mindset of “pray all your problems away,” that most churches have, so I stopped going, because I didn’t agree with that. Personally, I like to do as much as I can on my own, then look to God for help. I think if more of us took that approach, we’d be better off as a people.
Something else that disturbs me about church is the fact that, honestly, it’s become more of a feminized sort of group. Now, I understand that there are more women than men in the world, but in church, you really see it. According to this, the church is comprised of 60 percent women, but in the Black community, I would say the number of men in church is less than 40%. Most of the sermons and events the churches aren’t centered on making men stronger—they’re about women feeling good about who they are, and shaming men. In the sermons I’ve been to, I’ve heard men being shamed plenty of times (“You need to take care of your kids,” “Treat women with respect,” and so on) but I’ve never heard any of this vitriol directed at the women. I don’t think any of the pastors have told the women “stop having children with men that you aren’t married to” or “conduct yourself in a manner that befits one deserving of respect,” or anything like that. Instead, they’d rather make the women “feel good,” so they’ll put their money in the church coffers more readily.
I understand that. Religion is a business as much as anything, and you have to appeal to your main customers, otherwise they won’t patronize the establishment and spend money. I’m sure if the pastors didn’t have these feel good sermons that appealed to women’s emotions, women wouldn’t go and spend money. Add in the fact that the pastor will usually talk about how men are the cause of everything wrong with women (especially Black men). But, hey, we’re Acceptable Targets, so they can speak poorly about us.
And I’m not saying that Black men aren’t deserving of the criticism, but to me, if they aren’t criticizing both groups, it makes no sense, especially since they are the leaders of the community.
Also, most of the pastors condemn sex outside of marriage, which is fair, but yet, they do little to edify traditional marriage in the country, which to me, is beyond asinine. I understand that promiscuity is a serious problem in society, but if men don’t have a viable alternative, what do they suggest? Contrary to what most believe, men refuse to get married for more reasons than just a desire to play the field; some men are on a marriage strike now, and they have good reason. Half of women divorce just because they’re unhappy (read: bored) with their husbands, and men lose their assets and contact with children when this happens. Even me, an idealist who believes that people should be married and have families, can’t ignore something so significant.
Even worse, most churches don’t like the idea of men getting prenuptial agreements. I remembered sitting in on one of the seminars the “Black church” had at my school, and one of the men there asked about pre-nups, and the women in the room got upset (even the men speaking were bothered) saying that such a thing was a “worldly thing,” and that you need to share your wealth with your wife, no matter what. Also, by having a prenup, you were “speaking divorce into the world.” Before your marriage began, you would be planning for its failure.
It’s not too often, but I wanted to slap those men. Seriously.
This is a quote Tim Alexander, the man who made the film, “Diary of a Tired Black Man,” shared on Facebook:
“Today we live under outdated divorce laws that were written at a time women couldn’t even VOTE. Today women have equal upward mobility. Alimony today isn’t used out of necessity, its used out of exploitation. A woman today doesn’t need alimony. If you BOTH built a business TOGETHER then the dissolving of the business to compensate the two partners is fair but getting paid just because you WERE married to someone who had money you had NO HAND in making is just obscene. Men are not taking this threat seriously. We should be doing like the gays and demanding change, but we don’t because we keep telling ourselves this will only happen to “someone else” . . .. until it happens to US. I guess until the majority of males wake up those of us with a brain better keep a prenuptial handy. You need to have her sign it at your LAWYERS office and it needs to be RECORDED ON VIDEO when he explains it to her so she can’t say she didn’t understand what she was signing later. And if she so much as rolls her eyes when you ask her to sign it DISMISS her and be happy you dodged the bullet.” —– LET THE TRUTH RING IN THE NEW YEAR!!!!!! Women want to be equal, let them have an equal NOTHING when it is all over and let them struggle as the man does when they go – unless he is the one leaving by running off with the secretary and leaving his family high and dry! But if SHE is leaving just because she is “Not Happy” (the NUMBER ONE REASON) let her leave not happy and BROKE then – not happy with all his money! And since when has MARITAL HAPPINESS been court enforceable? MARRIAGE IS A LIFETIME COMMITMENT PEOPLE FOR BETTER OF FOR WORSE FOR RICHER OR POORER!!!”
I don’t see the reason that I should I should have to give a woman anything if she just decided she wasn’t happy (or even worse, decided to cheat on me.) I could see having to shell out money if I was adulterous or abusive, but she shouldn’t be able to profit from no-fault divorce (that shouldn’t even be allowed).
Also, how in the world does having a prenup mean you’re planning for your marriage to fail? By that logic, you shouldn’t have car insurance either, because doing so would mean you’re planning to get in a wreck. Or, maybe you shouldn’t have health insurance either, because if you do, you’re “speaking illness into the world.”
But I can understand why churches like the system the way it is. Again, it’s mostly women in church, and since women are the prime beneficiaries in divorce … well, that means the churches get a little extra when it’s time to tithe. It makes sense to shame men into a system that might cause them to lose their assets, because women will pour that money right into the church coffers.
Lastly, I want to touch on the system of separatism that churches promotes. For some reason, Christians seem to hate those of other faiths, even though most of them talk about the same things. Most religions talk about having respect for your family, being good to everyone, giving to the poor, and putting positive energy into the world. So why do we have beef? I feel that just because we can’t agree on the subject of Christ’s divinity shouldn’t mean that we need to separate ourselves from people and enter into beefs (or even wars) with them. Why can’t people who have different beliefs say “Okay, this is what you believe, this is what I believe, we can agree on this, let’s work together and improve our communities.”
I think the song below expresses my view on that a little better:
I would like to see a pastor speak on some of these issues (and these are just three that I highlighted, there might be more that I cover in a later post).
Now, this doesn’t mean I don’t believe in God, it just means that I don’t like the monetization and feminization of Christianity. I think I’ll be devoting myself to helping Black people in other ways, and investing my money in a facility that I know is helping Black people now, instead of giving it to the pastors on Sunday.
… I’m sure there are a plethora of men who share my sentiments.