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The History of Black Americans and the Black Church

The church and religion has played and continues to play a big role in the African-American community. Yet, many of us who grew up in the traditional black church do not have an understanding of how our faith evolved under the duress of slavery and discrimination to be and to represent what it does today. The purpose of this broadcast is to provide that background knowledge while also pointing out the dividing line between what is just tradition and true faith in Jesus Christ.
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Jul 24, 2015

Our Scripture verse for today is Matthew 19:14 which reads: "But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

Our History of Black Americans and the Black Church quote for today is from Lee June, a professor at Michigan State University and the author of the book, "Yet With A Steady Beat: The Black Church through a Psychological and Biblical Lens." He said, "The possibility and reality of becoming someone new is offered by Jesus Christ when one is placed in the true church. Second Corinthians 5:17 states: 'Therefore if any man [person] be in Christ, he [or she] is a new creature [creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.' This is a profound message of the Gospel and true church. Imagine slaves who were humiliated and treated as less than persons but had within them the message of being a new creation in Christ."

Our first topic for today is titled "The African Way of Life -- The Arts (Part 3)" from the book, "From Slavery to Freedom" by John Hope Franklin. 

There was usually enough stability within African states and among them to make possible healthy economic development. The division of labor and the practice of specialization in occupations display a remarkable versatility and variety of talents and tastes. The interest in commerce and the understanding of the economic importance of contact with the European and Asian worlds show a realism similar to that of contemporary states in other parts of the world. 

Nothing is more impressive in viewing the social institutions of Africa than the cohesive influence of the family. The immediate family, the clan, and the ethnic community undergirded every aspect of life. The rule of discipline enforced in the family was responsible in large measure for the stability that has been observed in various aspects of life. The influence and hold that the patriarch had over the members of the family was largely responsible for the stability that was characteristic of the area. The deep loyalty and attachment of the individual to the family approached reverence and indeed was the basis for most of the religious practices, in which veneration of ancestors played such an important part. 

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Our second topic for today is "The Institutional Church of the Free Negroes, Part 6" from The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier. He writes:

Conflict over the Question of Status 

It is apparent then that in the early development of the Negro church on an institutional basis there was the question of the status of the Negro preachers and Negro communicants in relation to the white church organizations. In the South where slavery was the normal condition of the Negro or as the Supreme Court of Mississippi stated that the laws of the State "presume a Negro prima facie to be a slave," it was to be expected that the question of the status of the Negro in the churches should be insistent. In fact, the schism which was created in the various national church organizations over the question of slavery involved the status of the Negro in the Christian churches. After many attempts to reconcile the viewpoint of the southern sections of these church organizations which sought justification of slavery in the Scriptures with that of northern elements who refused to justify slavery on Christian grounds, the Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians split and set up separate organizations. In the South the Negroes continued to join the Methodist and Baptist churches in large numbers and to worship in the segregated sections of the churches of their masters. 

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Our third and final topic for today is from "The Black Church in the U.S.: Its Origin, Growth, Contributions, and Outlook" by  Dr. William A. Banks.

Today we are continuing with part 3 of Chapter 3: "Reaction -- 1820 to 1865"

A TERRIBLE DEMORALIZING ERA 

Under the lax moral life of the plantation, where marriage was a farce, laziness a virtue, and property a theft, a religion of resignation and submission degenerated easily, in less strenuous minds, into a philosophy of indulgence and crime. Many of the worst characteristics of the Negro masses of today had their seed in this period of the slave's ethical growth. Here it was that the Home was ruined under the very shadows of the church, white and black; here habits of a shiftlessness took root, and sullen hopelessness replaced hopeful strife.

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