Bishop Eddie Long, pastor of New Birth Missionary Church in Atlanta, is accused of having used his considerable influence to coerce young men into sexual relationships. That is, it appears Bishop Eddie may be on the down-low, and in a nasty way. But he’s gonna fight the charges, assuming the same posture against the charges as the bullshit black power theology he shovels from the pulpit to his church audience–that he’s facing a trying struggle that, with the Lord’s help, must be and will be overcome.
Incredibly–with his parishioners anyway–it appears to be working. They welcomed him back to the pulpit last Sunday with open arms, prayerful tears and shouts of joy. They apparently don’t care that if he did what he’s accused of, then the “struggle” he faces is entirely of his own making. He acknowledged at the pulpit on Sunday that he’s human like the rest of us, but that he would win this struggle. Does he mean he’ll win the abstract struggle against the demons in his soul? Doubtful. I think he means the more practical and immediate struggle with his accusers. Sort of like O.J. didn’t kill Nicole, according to a jury split down racial lines.
Most of the black commentators in the op-ed pages have decried the hypocrisy of preaching against gays as an abomination before God while apparently using the money and power that comes with running a black mega-church to coerce and cajole young men into homosexual relationships. It is certainly that, but the bigger issue is the utter hypocrisy of black power theology itself.
Black power theology almost cost Obama the presidency. Films of Jeremiah Wright’s fiery sermons preaching that the blacks essentially occupy a place in American society like the ancient Jews occupied in Egypt went over like a fart in church amongst the white voters. It’s why Obama had to disavow Wright, who I bet is still smarting from the rejection, unless Obama has been on something of the down-low, if of a different sort, soothing Wright’s troubled soul for the humbling he received.
The essence of black power theology is the adoption of the Old Testament story of the Jews as applying to American blacks. There is the exodus from slavery (the Civil War), the wandering in the desert (Reconstruction, the Civil Rights Movement), and the arrival in the Promised Land (apparently, Washington, D.C.) with the “Joshua” generation as Obama and his (black) cohorts. In other words, just like the ancient Jews were incipient racists, succoring their dreams through the cock-eyed belief that their nation of twelve tribes was God’s Chosen People, black power theology is inherently racist, teaching that blacks are the new Chosen People, and if they obey God and adhere to each other they will reach the Promised Land. And guess what? It worked! A black man was elected President! Behold the power of the Almighty! Behold the power of prayer and obedience! Never mind that he was only half black. Never mind that his ancestry did not have any plantation slaves making the exodus or suffering during Reconstruction and the Civil Rights movement.
This is undoubtedly what is preached and believed in black churches across the land, that fortunately rarely have any white people attending. (My son recently attended a local black church to hear his friend sing. The preacher praised God for America that a black man like Obama could be president. My son said his experience would not have been complete without at least some black power preaching–even he gets it). Black power theology is nakedly racist. It is nature, red in tooth and claw, seeking to gain power over its rivals and competitors to ensure its continued survival. It is a simple calculus: black is good, all others bad. It is no different than God’s admonition to the Jews to kill every last inhabitant of Canaan upon their arrival in the Promised Land. It is the same theology underpinning the recent struggles within the Jefferson County, Alabama Democratic party, (discussed here and here) when a judicial election went awry due to the black nominee’s suspension by the bar. Instead of substituting the white, second-place candidate, the party found a black candidate that hadn’t even run in the primary to stand for the general election.
It may not appear so to the legions of blacks that believe and practice black power theology today, but it is a dangerous, dangerous belief system. It risks reawakening the racist impulse amongst whites, and, by dint of numbers alone, whites will always win at a power play between the races. Whites have been pretty stupid and lazy these past few decades, inter alia, allowing affirmative action to apportion federal and other goodies according to race, pretending that it’s not racist so long as the costs are borne by whites and the benefits enjoyed by blacks, and that it’s okay for blacks to believe a theology that promoted ethnic cleansing and genocide in ancient Palestine. But the guilt of slavery and Jim Crowe will eventually wear off. If black power theologians are at that time still pandering to black racist instincts, they may just incite a racial conflict they would surely lose.