For years videos and articles discussing the “wokeness” of certain black people have filled my social media timeline. There was one main culprit denounced in each video. Christianity. With every share and re-tweet, I thought to myself, Wait, are people really falling for the okie doke here? Do people really believe this stuff? I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer to that question is a resounding, "Yes!" How else can you explain 1 million views for a ten-minute video of a woman explaining away Christianity as the slaveholder’s religion and condemning other African-Americans for reading King James’ book.
In full disclosure, I’m a Christian. I’ve been a Christian my entire life. I’m also black (and, yes, I’ve been black my entire life…no shade Rachel Dolezal). But I’ve also had the unique experience of attending two Historically Black Colleges. I’ve Hotep’d with the best of them. My undergrad African-American History professor was world-renowned. I’m also a lifetime learner. I have a B.A., J.D., and an M.Div. As a lawyer, I question everything, including my own presuppositions. I spent years making sure my parents’ faith wasn’t something I inherited, but something I truly believed with all my heart. In doing so, I wrestled internally with many of the questions that certain movements today (whether it’s pro-black atheists, Hebrew Israelites, or any other religious movement) wrestle with.
Honestly, the Hebrew Israelites and other anti-Christian groups have been around for decades in the black community. Just step foot on Malcolm X Boulevard in Harlem and you’ll likely see or hear them. But why now? Why is the message getting traction now? Because we live in a post-truth culture. In fact, post-truth was the word of the year several years ago. Why? Because the fact-checker explodes during every political debate, as candidates throw out “facts” that are later proven untrue. Many Christians I know would get eaten alive by conversations with these anti-Christian, pro-Black groups. Because fake news sites were shared like real news sites in 2016 with mind-boggling frequency. This is precisely why anti-Christian sentiment has invaded Black sacred space. And to be completely honest with you, in the words of Kevin Hart, “Nooooo…We wasn’t ready!”
Many Christians I know would get eaten alive by conversations with these anti-Christian, pro-Black groups.
Why We Fail in Our Defense
Partly due to the historical lack of access to the academy, there’s a dearth of resources for Black men and women to critically engage these issues of faith. But it’s very critical we know how to communicate our faith in ways that are both winsome and honest.
Ironically, the very thing they hold up as supreme (knowledge) is the one thing many Christians lack to critically engage with proponents of anti-Christian views. But if scripture is correct, we are called to a different standard. We are called to always be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15…and no, it’s not the King James Version). Yet we’re also called to do it with gentleness and respect. So we can’t just brush folks off as crazy. We can’t just say, “That’s what I believe”. No. To do that says to others that we don’t have the hope we claim to have. And that would be catastrophic.
Help is On the Way
Look (in my Shirley Caesar voice), I want to help you dispel five myths black anti-Christian groups continue to parade online as truth. And I want to walk through those myths with facts, linguistic accuracy, and contextual analysis of often quoted passages. All while doing so with gentleness and respect. Are you with me? Let’s do this.
Next up: Myth #1: Is His Name Really Jesus?