SocraticGadfly: is the black church dead?

January 16, 2011

is the black church dead?

If by black church, we mean its traditional, more social gospel, more politically liberally oriented version, then, yes, as discussed here, that's quite arguably the case.

If not dead, it's at least ailing and infirm.


Well, as the story notes, one big issue is the rise of black megachurches, more conservative in political tone and more focused on the prosperity gospel rather than social gospel. This became clear in the last decade when some pastors and other leaders at such churches even worked hand-in-glove with banks and other lenders to peddle toxic subprime mortgages to their flocks.

Not all black megachurches are quite that bad; T.J. Jakes, for example, seems to have a bit of the older sensibilities side by side with the social gospel. But many younger black ministers are indeed naked capitalists.

Related to that has been more blacks going to multicultural or even white-majority megachurches.

Along with this has been both the newer megachurches and many of the older black churches being openly illiberal on gay rights. From clandestine sex on the down low and its attendant AIDS fallout to the loss of Prop. 8 in California and what degree of effect black voters had on that (it may not have been a lot, but I reject some apologists, whether black and gay or not, who claim the effect was minimal to near-zero), it's also clear that on one major issue, the traditional and new black church are both losing relevance with one slice of black voters.

And, among a certain segment of the black underclass, black churches of any political bent are surely losing ground.

That said, none of this is bad.

While I'm certainly not a Republican or a generic political conservative, growing black political diversity would prevent their votes from being taken for granted.

Lessening political power of traditional black churches would lead to liberal push for black votes becoming less religiously focused, in turn.

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