The results of diluting religion with politics can readily be seen in the black community.
In the old days, freed slaves were offered 40 acres and a mule if they voted Republican. They never got their acres or mules, but the Republican Party held a lock on black voters for many decades.
In the modern era, beginning with Lyndon Johnson, black voters were similarly wooed with the false promises of the Great Society. As a result, it was next the Democratic Party that got a lock on black votes — but with that came a required commitment to the party’s entire agenda. This was so, no matter how far that agenda transgressed the limits of traditional Christian morality and faith.
Thereafter, by a wide margin, modern black voters (more than 90% in most cases) found themselves backing abortion, gay rights, the removal of religion from public life, and massive welfare programs that resulted in the destruction of the black family. If the Episcopal Church could once have been called the Republican Party at prayer, the black church could have been called the Democratic Party at prayer.
But the results of diluting religion with politics can readily be seen.
In Monsey, site of the recent attack, observant Jews live in a community in which children play safely on the street and doors are not locked even after dark. Families are intact. Studying is encouraged and intense. Every few blocks, there are a synagogue and a rabbi.
On sabbaths and other occasions, fathers ritually place their hands on their children’s heads and pronounce a blessing: “May you be like Ephraim and Manasseh” (or Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, in the case of girls). “May God turn His face toward you and grant you peace.” Then the children are embraced and kissed.
Imagine if in the inner-city black fathers would weekly bless their children in this way — to imbue their kids with the sense that they belong, that they are loved, and that they can have a great future ahead of them (regardless of external circumstances).
But where would the fathers be found? In New York, 75% of the black children are born out of wedlock. In Detroit, the figure is more than 80%. Gangs take the place of extended families. Learning is ridiculed as “acting white.”
A few years ago, my mother tutored a four-year-old black girl in pre-K at a Richmond, Va. public school[.] … One afternoon in February, my mother was explaining to the little girl the meaning of Valentine’s Day’s [sic]. Helping the child make a card for her mother, my mother told her that she was going to give Valentine’s Day cards to special people like her husband and her children.
The little girl looked up at my mother in disbelief, asking, “You can have a husband?” Slightly shocked and a little taken aback, my mother simply responded, “Yes.”
How did a church once so proudly Christian forfeit its influence on society?
This is not a “black” problem. Christian churches in Africa (as opposed to mislabeled “African-American” churches) have reacted in a different manner to offers of aid that come with political strings attached. Dr. Jerry Kulah, dean of the Gbarnga School of Theology, Liberia, said:
So if anyone is so naive or condescending as to think we would sell our birth right in Jesus Christ for American dollars, then they simply do not know us[.] …
Please understand me when I say the vast majority of African United Methodists will never, ever trade Jesus and the truth of the Bible for money.
Pastors are shepherds assigned to guard their flocks against the wolves. (The very word “pastor” derives from “shepherd.”) Modern wolves arrive with checkbooks instead of fangs, but their goal is the same.
One could wish that when the Great Society was first proposed, and politicians began to pander for votes, black pastors had been resolute and turned down the money and the welfare programs with thanks, insisting that they would go their own way. The cost of compromise was too great. And it was a chimera.
But the churches did not blink at embracing Farrakhan, sexual confusion, and smearing Jews, even within the walls of the church itself (as during the Duke lacrosse case). What became paramount was solidarity with the brotherhood of the aggrieved, right or wrong. Pastors will bestir themselves for many causes in the inner cities, but their children roam the streets, lost. The wolves have divided the flock.
It was a devil’s bargain, and those who made it have reaped the devil’s pay.
Maybe it’s time to forget the mule and the tinsel promises of the politicians and opt out of playing at being this world’s love interest. (The Bible has a lot to say about playing the harlot with the world.)
It’s not too late for the inner-city churches to reassert their role as shepherds, or to turn the inner cities, absent any external or government help, into Christian versions of Monsey. Dr. Jerry Kulah again:
Friends, not too long ago my country was ravaged by a terrible civil war. And then we faced the outbreak of the Ebola virus. We are keenly familiar with hardship and sorrow, but Jesus has led us through every trial. So nothing that happens over the next few days will deter us from following Him, and Him alone.
We will persevere in the race before us. We will remain steadfast and faithful. And some day we will wear the victor’s crown of glory with our King Jesus! Come walk with us!