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August 1st, 2010
03:22 PM ET

Opinion: Black church, place of empowerment

Editor's note: The Rev. DeForest "Buster" Soaries, Jr. is the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey. He is featured in CNN's "In America" documentary "Churched," which premieres October 14. This is the first of a weekly series of "Pulpit" pieces that will explore faith and the black community.

By the Rev. DeForest Soaries, Jr., Special to CNN

It cannot be denied that African-Americans have made tremendous progress - and one of the most significant factors that contributed to black success and survival has been our faith in God.

The manifestation of that faith is the religious community, which consists mostly of Christian churches that have produced positive spiritual, social, economic and political results for black America.

The question is whether black churches can continue to be the instruments of empowerment that they historically have been.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Opinion

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Bronx-Jerome

    Regarding the Bloack church keeping Women single, this is exatly what happened to me. My ex-wife lovfed the Pastoe and began comparing me to him. I was raising her 3 daughters whose father wasn't paying child support. This woman decied to file married filing seperately, causing me to owe $7000 in back taxes, had the van that was in my name repossed, destroyed me cedit, and my pastor said to me in front of her: "nigger, you haven't gone through nothing." I see why Islam is the fastest grwoing religion among young urban Black men.

    August 10, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
  2. Gary

    This is exactly why I am agnostic and why since I was 7 years old I have been able to see through religion and church. Religion and church are simply cultural aspects and each ethnic group and family mold it to their liking. Christianity is what the early Americans preached as they slaughtered Native Indians,enslaved Africans,and colonized North America.

    August 2, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  3. DangerMouse

    I can't help but feel that the intense identification and constant preoccupation with skin color is not mentally healthy in the long run. There are too many different shades of different skin colors to make such preoccupation worthwhile, and more reasons to get away from all that rather the other way around.

    Are genetics a good reason to "stand out" and exclude others? What about people protesting that genetics should not make a difference in how you are treated? You are trying to have it both ways. Either the term "African-American" is racist and should be abolished, or "Equal Rights" should be abolished as unworkable.

    Ascribing "special" empowerment due to being in an "African-American" church IS racist. And making a religious sect out of whole "black" skin is just as paranoid and schizophrenic as any "skin-head" organization.
    People are nuts. (me included)

    August 2, 2010 at 2:21 am |
    • DangerMouse

      I really must add that Mr. Soaries, Jr.'s article, on the whole, appears to me to be blatant racism. Let me point out that I don't know the man, but what he wrote is out-and-out racism. He may be an all-around Fine Fellow who is merely being provocative in this manner for all I know, but the article...ahh...the article is racist in the extreme.

      August 2, 2010 at 2:53 am |
  4. Reality

    We typically don't say white or Caucasian churches so why do we say black or Afro-American churches? We are all sons and daughters of some god or Mother Nature depending on your accident of birth. Time to get rid of the skin ID's.

    August 2, 2010 at 12:16 am |
    • Daniel

      Well, that has to do with black history in the United States, in the segregation era. And, out of that history, black churches have evolved a different kind of community of mutual support, along side such cultural developments as gospel music. There is a recognized social phenomenon here. Black congregations do things differently, and it was in churches that the organization and call to action of the Civil Rights movement took shape. It is no fluke that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a minister.

      These people weren't just praying. They were talking and thinking and planning and doing what they needed to do, in solidarity with each other and, by and large, under a commendable ethic of non-violent protest.

      It is a shame, however, that the same churches that brought black Americans together to stand up for their Civil Rights often have a hard time coming to terms with the oppression of other minorities. Because of traditional Christian attitudes toward homosexuality as inherently sinful, there has been little help for the LGBT movement from the black community.

      August 2, 2010 at 1:17 am |
  5. TheRationale

    Ironic how Christianity was a massive buttress for blacks' slavery and subsequent social injustice.

    Thank the people who actually unclasped their hands, got up off their knees, and did something. Don't thank beings that aren't there.

    August 1, 2010 at 9:16 pm |
  6. peace2all

    Is it your faith in God that has been one of the most significant factor in black success and survival?????

    Or real live human beings that..i.e...black, white, etc... civil rights movement--actual actions by human beings that have helped for the most part in black empowerment.

    Don't get me wrong..... I think that your faith/hope for something better is something that helped you get through times, but it seems like you are giving the basic credit to God....

    Kind of like athletes thanking God for their win over the enemy team.....

    Total respect here in my post...... I am sincerely curious with my questions...

    Peace to you....

    August 1, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.