Are You Worshipping the Right God? The Anti-Christianity Post

0 Posted by - March 4, 2013 - Real Life, Real Talk, Religion & Spirituality

[dc]I[/dc] recently read an article that said that the Black community is the most religious racial group in America. That’s not so hard to believe considering how much the church is a part of the African-American lifestyle—especially in the South. Now whether or not everyone who goes to church acts like a saint in his/her everyday life is a whole other topic.

But as I thought on the statistic and how I’ve come across so many people of color who are diehard Bible thumpers or just merely devoutly aligned with their faith, I thought back to something I learned in college. During one of my African Literature classes, I remember reading two important books: The first being Things Fall Apart by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe (1958), and the second being The Poor Christ of Bomba by Cameroon author Mongo Beti (1956).

While I may not recall the stories as vividly as I when I first read them, I do know that both novels detailed the European colonization of African villages during the Middle Passage. A big part of that story—especially in The Poor Christ of Bomba—was the introduction of Christianity to these “savages” and how religion played a major role in assimilating them to European ideologies and the institution of slavery.

Prior to this, the indigenous people of African had their own set of beliefs that guided them through their way of life. That was until colonization ripped through the continent and a new belief system was forced upon the people of Africa. Those who refused to be “saved” likely died for their steadfast belief in the heathen ways of their ancestors. In the minds of many colonists and missionaries, they were merely “helping” these poor souls to see the light that was Christianity.

The funny thing is, though, that’s it’s been well documented that during slavery times people of color were not even deemed as human beings and more like beasts of burden, but yet in still slave masters felt so inclined to “save the souls” of their property. I never recalled any stories of colonists trying to baptize cattle. So maybe somewhere deep down inside they did recognize a man, woman or child like their own standing before them, but just didn’t want to admit it. But I digress…

I’m sure some will argue me on this point, but my belief is that Christianity was used during slavery as a brainwashing tool to strip African slaves of their history and break them down mentally. They were already ripped from their homes, and literally dragged half way around the world to a foreign land where members of different clans, countries and dialects were culled together to do manual labor. Their birth names were stripped from them, their families were torn apart, and ultimately their varying belief systems that went back for generations were erased from their lives. In their place were European surnames, splintered allegiances to relative strangers that happened to look like them, and a brand new God.

This is what leads me to the question of whether or not Black people are worshipping the right God? Before crucifying me in the comments section, first hear me out. If my ancestors—whoever they may be as the average person of color can only trace his/her lineage back a few generations before history gets lost in the Atlantic—had their own set of beliefs that contradicted the teachings of Christianity, who is to say that what we as a people believe today is our true religion? If not for slavery, many of us wouldn’t even know let alone believe in the story of Jesus Christ dying on a cross for our sins. So if our great great great great great great… grandparents believed in the teachings of Yoruba or any other African religion before the Middle Passage, who is to say that wasn’t what we should be believing now?

African-Americans might be the most religious racial group, but is it possible that our faith is based on a lie? A robbery of truth? Could it be that the reason why we as a people are so religious is because that’s all we had left to cling to after everything that connected us to our true roots was taken away? And that even when slavery was legally ended that in this new world of opportunity, the only sense of community our fractured people had was to believe in the teachings of master just because everything else had been erased.

I’m of the school of thought that two arguments you will never win are those about politics and religion. The reason being because they are at the root of people’s belief systems and when you question someone on that you question who they are. It’s no easy pill for anyone to swallow when you ask them to rethink what they and they mama-n-’em have known to be the only possible truth for as far back as they can remember. But in the case of African-Americans as well as many Caribbean-Americans and Latinos, there was a time before when the image of God wasn’t a man with blonde hair and blue eyes. Their Higher Power embodied elements that reflected their own features and differed from what we now know today.

I don’t say/write any of this to throw stones at anyone’s belief system because it’s our God-given right as human beings to believe in whatever we want. We all have a choice to comply with or convert from the teachings of our parents, but I just wanted to point out that your parent’s parent’s parents may not have had the same luxury. So the Good Book you turn to and quote Scriptures from may not be the same one your ancestors relied on, but if it helps get you through the tough times the more power to you. Because it’s better to believe in something—even a lie—than to live a faithless life, right?

Just something to think about.

So, what do you think: Are African-Americans worshipping the right God? Are you surprised that people of color are the most religious racial group in America? Do you believe that that’s because of slavery’s impact? If you were able to find out your ancestor’s religion would you consider converting? What do you think would happen to your soul if you converted from your current religion to another?

Speak your piece…

 

  • Coco black

    Hmmmmmm….. I hear you! its something I’ve often thought about. However, regardless of religion I believe in the notion of ‘one’ god…so regardless of religion I believe we pray to one god, the same god. So that thought keeps me pretty contented.

  • http://twitter.com/CNBlackman Ms. Blackman

    As far as whether African Americans are serving the right God, that truly depends (to me)…I mean different parts of Africa believed and served different gods (Northern Africans were primarily Muslim, or in Egypt served a number of different types of gods). While I feel colonialism did affect a large portion of Africans and through slavery we lost our original religion, at the same time I feel for those other countries over time Western influence and wars and other invasions also changed others beliefs. What if colonialism never had taken place and we chose to move to another country and adopted that faith? Would we be wrong to do so? No I don’t think so…I feel that I personally chose which faith is right for me, and each of us have the option to choose the RIGHT God for us.

    I’m not surprised that we are the most religious racial group, because like you said in your piece, I do feel that there was very little for African Americans to cling on to once they were stripped of their heritage so they turned to their faith and for many that has been the one constant in their lives even until now.

    I doubt I would convert back to the religion that my ancestors followed…I feel there is only one God and creator of all and from what I’ve read most African nations were polytheistic

  • Rastaman

    I understand your sensitivity
    around the subject matter and you are right, asking many people to question
    their religious belief is just like asking them to question who they are. Because
    religious belief systems are as entrenched as ethnicity, race and gender for so
    many. The truth is many of us have fallen for one of the greatest cons of all
    time, religion.

    “I feel like bombing a church because I know the preacher is lying.”

    What other thing in life do so many people believe so strongly that lacks
    concrete evidence?

    I do agree that Christianity was instrumental in African slavery and
    colonization but it would be short sighted to believe that neither slavery nor
    colonization would have occurred without its influence. Throughout most of
    human history, slavery has been practiced and accepted by many cultures and
    religions around the world. The Church did succeed in almost entirely enforcing
    that a free Christian could not be enslaved, for example when a captive in war.
    Plus much of the early Christian teaching was opposed to the idea of slavery.
    What you observe during the period of expansive African slavery is from the
    15th to the 19th century is an accommodation between Christians and capitalist.
    Sort of what plays out today in American conservative politics between
    Evangelicals and Corporate interest.

    My personal journey away from formal religion began in school when I first
    encountered the historical evidence of the strong influence that religious
    institutions played in the continued subjugation and exploitation of African
    peoples. The answers I received to my questions were never answered by the
    devout or the purveyors which made me conclude that the whole thing was a
    fool’s errand. Thus I decided to stop playing the fool.

    Religion is still a constant source of hope for many in the black community in
    the face of the fluctuating social and economic forces. Even many of us that
    have moved up the economic or social ladder are still a nice paying job or a
    generation removed from sliding back into a place where our rights are not
    guaranteed nor employment assured.

  • emjayee

    I agree with Coco black. I don’t consider myself an overly religious person by any means but I have a strong and unwavering belief in God. I do go to church (Baptist) from time to time, because I find that it helps me in my spiritual walk and I can believe in the context, albeit not the literal meaning, of the message. I don’t go for the pastor or anyone else. It’s just what works for me, and the culture of the black church appeals to me more than other worship experiences I have had. With that being said, in my limited research, I have found that most religions differ in their doctrine but most (even the polytheistic religions) have a belief in one ultimate Creator, although he/she may be called by a different name. So while I would love to become more educated in the beliefs of my ancestors, at the end of the day, I believe that the God I worship is the same God my ancestors worshipped. No one should be a sheep in their faith in my opinion. One should ask questions and ask themselves why they believe what they believe. But as you stated, if what you believe helps you make it through the day to day trials and makes you a better person then I have no argument with how you got there.

  • Pete

    I am an African. I was born in Africa, I live in Africa and am well versed on African ‘religion’ if you choose to call it that. I come from a tribe called Shona which is native to Southern Africa. Basically some of my people do believe in a god but we believe that we do not communicate with said god directly. We do it through our ancestors who we constantly thank for good fortune and appease in times of strife. When things go hairy or when they are good we conduct rituals which can involve feasting and dance and other celebratory activities.
    In recent history many cultures have strayed away from that because of the influence of Christianity and it’s doctrines. Most of our cultural activities have been labelled as savage simply because we do things differently, our way. I remember recently a well off guy was released from prison after serving a couple of years and went on to slaughter a bull to thank his ancestors and appease them for his transgressions. This did not sit well with the SPCA and it became a huge debate between animal rights activists, religious groups and traditional groups.

    In closing i’ll say we need to just respect each other’s beliefs. We won’t all believe in the same things and some of us believe in nothing at all but that does not make anyone a good or bad person by default.

  • http://twitter.com/DeVonna32RN DeVonna

    This subject has began to attract alot of attention lately in the Black/African-American community. Over the last year, there are alot of things I have learned about the Black/African-American religious/worship views and culture as a whole. Christianity and slavery involves alot of hidden history that is now beginning to surface. It is well-known how the Black/African-American community has always had a very strong relationship with the “God of all Gods” or Almighty creator. I was raised with a very strong Christian/Faith background with there being several preachers/ministers in my family…..my mother being one of them. About a year ago, I ran across some historical information concerning the “Hebrew Israelite” and today’s modern Black/African-American. There is soo much about our history that we don’t even know about. Christianity was a form of brainwashing for African slaves, in fact, there is historical documentation about why the Holy Bible was changed from the native languages and why some books were omitted. I truly believe in a power greater than what we see and feel everday…..and that is how I pray, to the “Almighty Creator” of all. Not only has this new information developed a deeper hunger for the history of my people; it has caused me to rely on my spiritual faith for guidance of even more so as my priority versus everything I may have been taught or raised up to believe……In the end, all things true and untrue will be revealed.

  • TruthWatcher

    I believe that once anyone has truly watched and researched the subject matter in the movie “Zeitgeist”, and others like it that they can then make an informed decision.
    Until then we are simply a product of our parents and community’s beliefs, not our own.

  • jaclynls (now in LA)

    Man, beautiful writing. I could quote you all day. I’m Latino and have often had conversations w/other Latinos about the same thing. I have to agree that at some point it was probably the only thing (faith) that our ancestors had to hold on to.

    Whether is was “their” God or just faith in general. If all we had left was faith then whether forced on us or whether we ingrained it for survival then hey can we really judge/question it.

    As for converting…I have several friends that went back to their ancestral religion and its a beautiful thing to see. More faith base, looking at the bigger picture, and your part in the universe. Really admirable.

  • Yato

    This is depend on every person, I just learn that many people who believe in religion always say they were true. The one called this is the right, others say this one is really true. That idea just make me confuse. Too many religion make us can’t believe which one is the right. To test them you need to prove it self. Which one is reasonable.

  • Ryan

    A man with an experience is never at the Mary if a man with an argument or mere supposition. I’ve had an experience with this God you speak of that I cannot deny. While what you say is factually actuate remember God will use whatever or whoever he wants to bring his people to him. I don’t believe in the white god or black god. Regardless of what people say or believe Jesus was a jew had dark skin and came to save his people. The gospel of Jesus Christ is to be preached to all regardless of skin clolor, nationality or prior pagan religion.

  • Ryan

    A man with an experience is never at the Merry if a man with an argument or mere supposition. I’ve had an experience with this God you speak of that I cannot deny. While what you say is factually actuate remember God will use whatever or whoever he wants to bring his people to him. I don’t believe in the white god or black god. Regardless of what people say or believe Jesus was a jew had dark skin and came to save his people. The gospel of Jesus Christ is to be preached to all regardless of skin clolor, nationality or prior pagan religion.

  • Ryan

    Ha! *Mercy keep trying to get it right. On my iPhone sorry!

  • Your1selfworth

    Deep and interesting questions…Hotep and Salaam!

    To some, the mystical dilemma resides right within one inter-standings of the Matrix’s. As one ask their individual higher power towards (Who,What, When, How, Why) I AM, so shall one receive the know-ledge down the pipe-shaft ye if that individual is ready to process the gem/fruit or regurgitate it due to the heavy mixture of cosmic-science and nature. (Metu-neter or Words of God)…Nonetheless; various people has not grasp the idea that their higher/lower micro-cosmic self projects their higher/lower macro-cosmic self every-time they utter positive or negative spells or actions which results in a cause and effect rotation until someone breaks that spell or those actions…The virus that spewed from the 7 deadly sins way before the Transatlantic caused a devastating mixture to the vary essence of wiping out the True nature and white washing Asiatic history of Kemet, Kush, Enki and Ninki. I feel myself going in, let me hold fast! 1 thing at a time!

    (The Noble Qur’an – 2:62) Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who (1) believes in God, and (2) believes in the Last Day, and (3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord. They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

    (The Holy Bible- Galatians 5)22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
    26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

    Without the almighty as your foundation, ever thing you build will crumble…keep up the magnificent works…Salaam & Hotep!

  • Derevaun

    generally, more blacks believe in religion because their IQs are lower on a per-capita scale. You might not wanna hear it, but you gonna read about it.

  • AfricanStudiesProf

    There is a very good documentary film on this very subject by the Cameroonian director Jean-Marie Teno. It’s called The Colonial Misunderstanding.

    I would recommend watching it if you are interested in the relationship between colonization and Christianity, but one thing Teno points out is that Christianity was already in Africa before the Europeans arrived.

  • Shannon

    Hi fellow Sockheads; it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted. I’ve been ill and trying to recover. I’m not the “angry black woman” I was when I first found this site, but I still have some demons to fight.

    I am atheist and believe in no higher power and never have. I’ve never understood the preoccupation with faith, religion and gods and why it’s so important. I mean, I’ve lived my whole life without believing in a god, any god, and I think I’ve done just fine.

    I just happen to think religion is a waste of time, energy and effort. I’ve had it out with my mother over this issue and she thinks it’s just a phase and it will pass. Well, I’ve been atheist since the age of six and I am now in my thirties and nothing has changed. I’ve been through the worst–I even had my heart stop three times and I was technically dead for 90 seconds each time–and still I never abandoned my beliefs or turned to any god and my mother was disappointed. She thinks everyone should believe in a god and read some so-called holy book and anyone who isn’t Christian is a “wrong one,” and must be converted so they will be acceptable.

    I love my family, but it’s hard to deal with them because of their devoutness and commitment to their faith. It’s hard to get them to understand that praying for an atheist is as much of an insult as it is to serve pork to a Muslim or serving chicken Alfredo to a Jew or beef to a Indian from Punjab.

    I am happy being atheist. I would never even think of considering any conversion simply because I find religion to be a fraud and a major source of stress. Wherever I’ve found religion, I’ve found strife and the determination of one group to rule another in the name of God. Life would be much better if religion was abolished from the world.

  • I am Just Saying

    Well…I can say this. A lot of people have the misconception that all African people who were brought from African were stolen and were kings and queens when in fact a lot were sold or traded from their own tribes into slavery. So…slavery caused many tribes of people to be mixed and not able to hold down beliefs. Which is why we cannot trace ancestors. However, that does not mean you believe in the “wrong God.” We all have a choice in whether or not we chose to worship and to whom we worship. I do not feel like that my life has been a mistake because I “believe in the wrong God.” I do not believe in religion but I follow the Christian path to get closer to the God I believe is the only living God. Even thousands of years ago people changed whom they worship before Africans were brought into AMERICAN SLAVERY. You also leave out the fact that many tribes had different beliefs and when another tribe took over their neighbors, the losing tribe was forced to believe in whatever tribe held them captive. We tend to only look at the African diaspora as the only slavery that affected black people when in every country people have acquired others for control and power. I say that because tangibly there is no way to prove which organized religion is first or “true” or “right.” Regardless I will still hold my Christian beliefs by choice. I have family members who converted to Islam. I considered as well. It is all about choice. I have had to many things happen for me to not believe in God. Faith isn’t about what you can see, regardless if you believe in religion or a god or God.

  • don1lather

    I am worshipping the right God, as an African Amercican.

    The real question is do you know who the real enemy is?

    Ignorance, to the fact that anything that can be used to destroy the race: religion, sexism, capitalism, education, politics, you get the picture.

    True Biblical Christianity helps man, regardless of race, find the truth

  • LordyLord

    Whoa…”it’s better to believe in something—even a lie—than to live a faithless life, right?”

    That’s just crazy talk.

    I’m not bashing this from my point of view as an polyatheist; this is a great article, with a lot of thought put into our roots as people and honoring those roots with integrity and authenticity. And as a polyatheist, I don’t live a faithless life.

    I have faith in the inherent good of humanity, no matter what a person’s specific belief is.

    But to say it is better to believe in a LIE than believe IN NOTHING has got to be the worst excuse for faith that I’ve ever heard.

    Example: It’s much better to believe that the Holocaust was justified (a LIE) than to believe it never occurred in the first place (a REPREHENSIBLE belief that is still prevalent today).

    In the example above, both the LIE and the LACK OF BELIEF are based on inherent falsehoods; it’s better to view the TRUTH with open eyes, and accept it, than to let yourself be led unaware like sheep to a slaughter.

    And the truth in this article is to HONOR YOUR HERITAGE and NEVER FORGET WHERE YOU CAME FROM. Both of which speak volumes about TRUTH.

  • knowrealhistory

    Considering that slavery has been around for centuries, and that it is not specific to nor founded by Western Civilization, ( Arab nations ) this question begs to be researched a bit more in depth.

    There were those in the American South who misused the bible to create a reason to hold those in slavery. There are also those in the Mid East who would use the Koran as a tool to enslave and even to this day keep individuals enslaved ( women and non believers ). There were also those Christians who used Christianity to create the Constitution based on individual salvation and free will., which ultimately led to the abolition movement. Read more on the thoughts of Frederick Douglass and his respect for the Constitution.

    Throw in the original period of the Progressive movement (late 19th-early 20thc), coupled with the politicized pseudo science of Eugenics and then you get legalized racism sanctioned by the bible as well as the evil doings of Margaret Sanger and the formation of abortion and Planned Parenthood*, abolition of alcohol, and more intrusive centralized government in the lives of the individual..

    Woodrow Wilson was one who set back the community, by segregating the fed. and military when he came into office. He too was a bible and God fearing man.

    So suffice it for me to say. It is man and his lust for power and control , who misuses or wields Christianity as a weapon, rather than Christianity in and of itself. Mankind is imperfect and when given too much power is easily corrupted by the temptations of evil.

    *Note where most of these clinics are located, and how many black kids are slaughtered over the years due to the cleansing of society thought process of the Progressive movement

  • Islandista Caribbean

    As a Caribbean person of African descent, I’ve struggled with this over the years but I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, this is the faith that is right for me. I am not terribly devout – to be honest, I’m an Easter-and-Christmas churchgoer. But I know my history and I understand it. For one, in the English West Indies, it was actually illegal to teach Christianity to slaves so it is not correct to say it was used as an instrument of slavery. Eventually Methodists and Baptists flouted the laws to teach Christianity to slaves and they met up with lots of opposition and oppression particularly since they were also abolitionists.
    Still, I know that Christianity and in particular my denomination (Anglican or Episcopalian as y’all say) has an inglorious past.

    But it is still the right faith for me for several reasons. One, sheer practicality and acceptance of our creolised heritage. Slavery did happen. We cannot get away from it. It shaped our modern society especially here in the Caribbean where we are majority black. It is what it is and as Derek Walcott would say “we are what we’re not.” We’re not 100% African and it would be incongruous for me at least to take up an African religion though I do know people who practise Yoruba – but even that is syncretised. We’re not European either and in many ways our culture is not at all European.

    Anglicanism is also right for me because it has become one of the most modern and progressive of Protestant denominations. We’re not perfect but we are trying to grapple with the hard questions.

    And last, I focus on what my denomination has become and what they have done in the recent past, not the distant past. The church actively supported education in the post-slavery period, it was on the side of the anti-apartheid movement (Bishop Desmond Tutu is Anglican) and it has apologized for the mistakes of the past. Just as Christ forgives us, we as Christians must be able to forgive and I do forgive my church for the sins of the past.

  • Greezy_G

    I “AM” the God of your Fathers. I “AM” the Lord, that is my name! (Isaiah 42:6) AMEN (AMMA, IMN, A-MA-NA, Hidden Creator). This is the name of OUR God.

  • Aset Kemet

    I totally agree religion was used to steal our land n to make Blacks worship whites, down to their straight hair