|I Am Not Comfortable: A Series of Essays by Theola Carter
The Church’s Promotion of Racism in America
you stand in the pulpit today and endorse all that is an abomination in heaven. God sees you; what is done in darkness will be bought to light and there is no respect
of persons with God. No sir, I am not comfortable with this at all.”
Just so you know, I come from a very religious family and my parents are in the ministry. Give either one of them the opportunity to talk to you about the goodness
of Jesus, you are either gonna do one of two things: cry and slobber asking the Lord to forgive you or try to run away because you do not want to change fleshly
ways. Yep, the word will draw you or drive you away; its either holiness or hell.
I recall quite fondly attending a funeral with my mother of a relative in Chicago, who was a pastor over a decent-sized congregation. The funeral was held at the
church that he once was the head pastor. The church was fairly crowded. I was pointing at people telling my mother that he looks like this person or she looks like
that person. Mom would tell who the person was and how they were related. All I have to say is those Conner genes are potent. Had I not looked real closely, I
would have gone up to the person and called that individual by a different relative’s name!
Nonetheless, at the start of the service, the officiate said, “I want all the preachers and pastors to come sit in the choir stand.” When I eventually looked around and
before I knew it, more than half those in attendance (most who happened to be related to me) had gotten up and proceeded to go be seated in the choir stand. To be
honest with you, there were so many, they all could not fit and were directed to the nearest seating towards the front. All I could think was: with this many
preachers in this family, my relatives (on grandfather’s side) don’t have an ice cubes chance to stand before God in judgement and say they did not know and would
not have an excuse for not getting saved.
I also went to church almost every night as a child. Sunday mornings and evening regular service, Tuesday and Thursday some type of Bible study, Friday and
Saturday you visited another church in support of some anniversary or district meeting and on one of those days in there, you had choir rehearsal. Depending on
which church I was a member of, rehearsals were on Thursday night or Saturday and after that Saturday rehearsal there was Saturday evening services. I can see
some of you COGIC and Apostolic members laughing because you know what I am talking about; you grew up the same way. Why do I tell you this? I do not want
you to believe that I am anti going to church or don’t believe in God. I have a foundation for living steeped in righteousness and the fear and love of God. It is in
God that I live move and have my being.
The church has a history of being a racist institution in the United States and upholding abominable acts in the name of God. Notice I say church with a small c,
because anyone who really knows what the Church is, knows that it is not the various religious sects that many align their faith with (Protestant, Evangelical,
Catholic, Assembly, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopalian…etc.) or the brick and mortar edifices that one goes to on Sundays to worship and fellowship. In no way is
this article meant to disparage any particular religion nor detract from the many good deeds that have been done by religious institutions. However, despite the
many good deeds that have been done, there have been just as many if not more atrocities committed under the guise of religion.
So, let’s talk racism in the church by starting with the images of Jesus that are hanging in churches or homes, stain glass windows, pictured in literature and on
television. Let’s describe that image in words: a white dude with long brown or blonde hair, blue or brown eyes, with some type of aura around his head and
whose disciples are also depicted as white men. If, by chance, the portrayal is of him teaching the children, all kids surrounding him are little white boys and girls.
If that is not racist, I don’t know what is.
I am pretty sure when God gave the commandment in the book of Exodus, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in
heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” I am pretty sure that meant images of him in any visual art format irrespective
of the medium used (charcoal, clay, stencil, iron, porcelain, water colors, digital...etc.). By the way, that verse discusses the rendering of all kinds of works
representing heaven, hell, and what is beneath in the water. So, please stop showing images of the devil as described in the book Dante’s Inferno because if you
really ever saw a demon, you’d probably would surpass a cheetah running to the hills. Now, I have no clue what Jesus actually looked like, but from the little
description told in Revelations his hair is like wool and feet like bronze. That description does not sound like long straight and stringy hair and pale skin in need of
a tan. I’m just saying.
White Christian theology is rooted a proslavery doctrine. The church itself, in particular the Catholic Church, played a significant role in the transatlantic human
trafficking slave trade by sponsoring journeys to kidnap African people and the getaway vessels used to transport Africans (often referred to as black gold or cargo)
had names like “The Good Ship Jesus.” The narrative behind this name is another story. It is very true that slave traders and slave ship captains were extolled as
and consider themselves to be ‘good’ Christians. These seafaring good Christians were in essence terrorists who rationalized their actions as civilizing and
proselytizing the Africans. Let’s not mention that they raped many African women on these passages. Africans were considered to be chattel, property, a commodity
to be bought and sold on an auction block at the owner’s will. As property the slave had no rights. Please explain, how does kidnapping, brutality and rape coincide
with “good” Christian values? It’s just a question.
Some slave owners allowed slaves to go to church services led by white proslavery preachers of course; however, the slaves were segregated and seated in the
back or the balcony of the church. The preacher twisted scriptures in the Bible to ease their conscience and used the Bible to promote docility and justify their
treatment to serve their own selfish purposes and inhumane treatment of slaves.
For slaves, Christianity instilled a type of inferiority complex; taught a doctrine acquiescence and obedience. Christianity espoused the worship of a god that
resembled their white captors, which surely had to subconsciously play a number on their psyche, sense of being, self-perception and worth. Christianity used
torture as a means to instill obedience and loyalty. The relationship dynamics between slave and slave owner can be best describe as a type of Stockholm
Syndrome. Some have even argued that it was providence that the African should be captured and put in bondage, for without slavery, the Africans were savages
and would not know Christianity.
But the truth of the matter is that Africans were quite spiritual people and practiced religion. Albeit it was not Christianity but many were Muslim. I actually had a
white girl friend say to me once with all due sincerity that slavery was a fortunate occurrence for Black people. First, my one eye brow went up and then I looked at
her crossed eyed (really?) and quickly proceeded to correct her and spoke of the atrocities committed in the name of Jesus and how ungodly slavery truly was. She
quickly did an about-face and never came to me with that racist Christian rhetoric again; hopefully she never espoused it to any other Black person. Nonetheless,
those same good Christians went to church on Sundays, prayed, sang, and smiled while committing some of the most heinous acts against humanity. Bottom line
white Christians were the slave owners and the backbone of slavery in America.
It is under the banner of Christianity and purity that white thugs can take the cross, douse it with kerosene, light it on fire, place it in the yards of Black people,
snatch Black persons from their homes, brutally beat the persons and even mutilate the person’s gentiles, hang the bodies from trees and bring their children along
to observe lynchings as if they were taking the child to watch a movie at the picture show. Those very same so-called Christians, who in 1963 in Birmingham
Alabama, bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church killing Addie Mae Collins (14), Cynthia Wesley (14), Carole Robertson (14), and Carol Denise McNair (11). Say their
names so that you never forget. It is then, no wonder that an impenitent young white man walks into Emanuel AME Church, a Black church, in Charleston, killing
nine members during a bible study and intentionally leaving one alive to “tell the story” and later confess that it was his intent to ignite a race war. The church itself
has been unrepentant and has yet to publically apologize or make restitution to Black people for their pivotal role in slavery.
To be a Christian means to be Christ-like and one of the beautiful attributes of Jesus was that he loved and accepted everyone whether gentile or Jew. Christian
believers are commanded to love thy neighbors as well as love thy enemies. If you think there is a heaven where white people go and Black people go, then I
suggest that you think again. Race and racism is a man thought-up concept. Never once in the Bible does it say love your neighbor if and only if they are white or
love you enemy if and only if he or she is … etc. Love – agope love- is without conditions, ifs, ors, ands, whens and buts. If Christians can’t get the simple
concept of love down correctly, then what chance does a nonbeliever have? Why would a person come to a Christian during a crisis situation if that concept of
love is ratcheted and marred in biases and racism?
I recently wrote an article titled I Am Not Comfortable which was published in the June 15, 2020 of the Capital City Hues. In that
article, I identified various governmental and non-governmental agencies and institutions that have over decades — well
centuries — that contributed and continue to support and maintain the American innate culture of racism. Each of these areas
warrants further discussion. So, let’s just do a little examination of the DIScomfort of being Black and having to deal with racist
policies and procedures used within these various entities.
American racism is not just one entity or thing that you can point to and say “there it is go get” but American racism is comprised
of several micro-entities which when put together comprise one gigantic and notably violent and racist Institution. It’s just like
rivers, channels and tributaries funneling down to create and sustain one enormous ocean. One of the first institutions that I
single out is the religious institution. I stated, “I am not comfortable with how you have used religion and God’s word to
manipulate others and commit unconscionable acts in His name in an attempt to justify your wickedness and now
Truly, if I did not know the word for myself, and knowing the history of Christianity in
the United State as I do and had to depend on Christian charity and love, I would
happily remain a sinner and take my chances pleading my case at the throne of
mercy. And, you know what, as a person who really loves God, I am not
comfortable with that and neither should any other God-fearing Bible believer.