Jesus Radicals Blog 2005-2017
By: Heber Brown
I recently read an article published by the Black Youth Project entitled, “The Black church can engage more Black millennials by bringing politics back into the pulpit” by Maya King, a journalism student at Howard University. After outlining some generational differences, suggesting that social media posts are more powerful than Black church pulpits, and decrying the fact that “not all Black religious institutions are willing to make themselves available on the frontline of social reform,” King concludes by arguing that the first step in restoring the Black Church is acknowledging that it’s “effectively dead.”
There is nothing new about this death sentence being pronounced over the Black Church. In fact, King’s article seems to follow the template established by Dr. Eddie Glaude of Princeton’s Department of Religion who articulated this same claim in a provocative op-ed in 2010. His piece started a firestorm of debate and a snowball effect of hundreds of other articles that seemed to take their cues from Glaude declaring as well that the Black Church is dead. Just like Glaude’s piece from 2010, King’s Black Youth Project article cites Pew Research about Black religious life, described the relationship between Black communities and Black Churches as “complicated” and proclaimed that it’s time to “breath new life” into the dead Black Church. It’s a refrain echoed so often that it can make one wonder if it’s being orchestrated or cleverly programmed in our minds in some kind of way. Can it really be just simple coincidence that out of all of the Faith institutions in the country, the message about the Black Church being dead and irrelevant gets amplified with the most passion, ink and air time? It’s almost on the path to becoming a genre of its own with some even going so far as to say “we need to stop building churches and start building institutions.”
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