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The History of Black Americans and the Black Church

As many of you know, 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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The History of Black Americans and the Black Church Episode #77

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with episode #77 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Galatians 3:28 which reads: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

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 writes, “Why is Islam very attractive to African American males and what must be done to make Christianity more attractive? In reference to this question, Lincoln and Mamiya suggested that the symbols of manhood projected by such prominent Muslims as Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali are factors. While this is undoubtedly true, Islam is also more aggressive in its outreach to males, particularly in the prison environment.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 11: The Middle Colonies, Part 2” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

The concentration of an increasing number of slaves in the city of New York brought with it increased dangers to the white population. Blacks defied authority and disobeyed the laws. In 1712 the ungovernable temper of New York blacks flared up into a fully organized insurrection in which twenty-three slaves armed with guns and knives met in an orchard and set fire to a slaveholder’s house. During the melee that followed nine whites were killed and six were injured. In the ensuing trial of the accused blacks twenty-one were found guilty and executed.

Almost thirty years later, in 1741, there was a rumor of an even larger insurrection. After a series of fires, the rumor spread that blacks and poor whites were conspiring to destroy law and order in the city and to seize control. After the city offered generous rewards for the apprehension of the conspirators, almost 200 whites and blacks were arrested and prosecuted. At least 100 blacks were convicted, 18 of whom were hanged, 13 burned alive,and 70 banished. Four whites, including 2 women, were hanged. There were no more serious outbursts during the colonial period, and by the time of the Revolution, New York had begun to recognize the moral and economic undesirability of holding human beings in bondage.

South of New York, the colonies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware each in its own way subscribed to the institution of slavery. After the English came to dominate New Jersey, they encouraged slavery in every way. Soon, the black population there was growing steadily: 2,581 in 1726, 3,981 in 1738, and 4,606 in 1745 out of a population of 61,000. In Pennsylvania the growth was not so rapid, largely because of the opposition to slavery by the Quakers. In 1688 Germantown Quakers issued their celebrated protest, and in 1693 George Keith remonstrated with Pennsylvanians for holding persons in perpetual bondage. But in 1685 no less a person than William Penn himself expressed the view that African slaves were more satisfactory workers than white servants, and this had the effect of greatly encouraging slavery in some quarters. In 1721 the black population of Pennsylvania was estimated at between 2,500 and 5,000. Thirty years later there were about 11,000 in the colony. In 1790 there were 10,274 blacks, of whom 3,737 were slaves and 6,537 were free.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 26: Negro Cults in the City, Part 12” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

Something needs to be said about the beliefs and ritual and practices of the cult. The members of the various sects which have split off from the parent body live according to the teachings which have been divulged to Noble Drew Ali and are contained in the Holy Koran. Jesus figures largely in the Koran but Allah is God and He ordained his Prophet, Noble Drew Ali, to divulge his secrets to the dark folk of America. The charter of the Moorish Science Temple is supposed to have come from the ‘great capital empire of Egypt’. Negro (black) signifies death and coloured something painted. Therefore, the term Moorish-American must be used. In their religious services, which meet promptly and are dismissed promptly, the contents of the Holy Koran are expounded to the members. During the services, which are extremely quiet, men and women are segregated. ‘”Christmas” is observed on January fifth, the anniversary of the day when the prophet, Noble Drew Ali, was reincarnated.’ Members greet each other, the right hand up-raised and the palm turned out, with the words ‘Peace’ and ‘Islam’. There are a number of taboos, including the prohibition of the use of meat and eggs, the use of intoxicants, attendance at European games and the straightening of the hair.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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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 looking at part 20 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

The Death of God: Father Divine died on September 10, 1965, leaving behind a million deluded followers. Mother Divine, pointing out that his death involved only the physical body, said, “Like Jesus, although his body is gone, he is still with us.” Much praise from various sources was given Father Divine upon his death. The Philadelphia Inquirer headlined: “Negro Leaders Grieve at Father Divine’s Death.” The article said,

Leaders of the Philadelphia Negro community expressed grief at the death of Father Divine on Friday and offered praise for the influence the Negro evangelist exerted on his followers. “I was deeply grieved to learn of his passing,” said the Rev. Leon H. Sullivan, founder of the O.I.C. and pastor of the Zion Baptist Church. “…In my opinion, he was the forerunner…of much that we see in the practical aspects of religion today. While many people were talking about what religion could do about integration and self-determination and human dignity, he was practicing it.”

Father Divine was called a “force for good and stability in the community” by U.S. Representative Robert N.C. Nix (D., Phila). Nix said Father Divine’s followers “were taught a high degree of morality…paid their bills…were good constructive citizens.” Father Divine’s death was described as a “great loss,” by Cecil B. Moore, president of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP. “We think he lived and demonstrated by his life, principles we are fighting for.”

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

The History of Black Americans and the Black Church Episode #76

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with episode #76 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is John 14:6 which reads: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

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 writes, “In reference to Islam, Lincoln and Mamiya have noted that it has become particularly attractive to young Black males in America. They quoted a New York Times article, which estimated that in 1989 approximately one million of the six million Muslims in America were Black and made the following observation: ‘A full decade before the turn of the twenty-first century, if the estimate of 6 million Muslims in the United States is reasonably accurate, Islam has become the second largest religion in America, after Protestant and Catholic Christianity. American Judaism with a steadily declining membership is now third. While much more of this Islamic growth is independent of the black community, the possibility of serious impact on the Black Church cannot be peremptorily dismissed. The phenomenon of more black males preferring Islam while more black females adhere to traditional black Christianity is not as bizarre as it sounds. It is already clear that in Islam the historic black church denominations will be faced with a far more serious and more powerful competitor for the souls of black folk than the white churches ever were. When is the question, not whether.’”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 10: The Middle Colonies, Part 1” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

Although the Dutch were primarily interested in the slave trade and made great profits from transporting slaves to various colonies, they did not neglect their own New World settlements. There were large plantations in New Netherland, particularly in the valley of the Hudson River, and by 1638 many of them were cultivated largely with slave labor. The institution of slavery, as practiced by the Dutch in the New World, was relatively mild, with slaves receiving fairly humane treatment and many considerations as to their personal rights. The Dutch slave code was not elaborate, and manumission was not an uncommon reward for long or meritorious service. Although the demand for slaves always exceeded the supply, the number imported by the Dutch never reached such proportions as to cause serious apprehension or difficulty during the period of their domination.

The character of the institution of slavery changed when the English took over New Netherland in 1664. In 1665 the colonial assembly recognized the existence of slavery where persons had willingly sold themselves into bondage, and in the statute of 1684 slavery was recognized as a legitimate institution in the province of New York. In subsequent years the black population of New York grew substantially. In 1698 there were only 2,170 blacks in a total population of 18,067, while in 1723 the census listed 6,171 slaves. By 1771 the black population had increased to 19,883 in a total population of 168,007.

The slave code of New York became refined early in the eighteenth century. In 1706 the colony enacted a law stating that baptism of a slave did not provide grounds for a claim to freedom. A further and certainly significant provision was that a slave was at no time a competent witness in a case involving a freeman. In 1715 the legislature enacted a law providing that slaves caught traveling forty miles north of Albany, presumably bound for Canada, were to be executed upon the oath of two credible witnesses. Meanwhile, New York City was enacting ordinances for better control of slaves. In 1710 the city forbade blacks from appearing “in the streets after nightfall without a lantern with a lighted candle in it.”

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 25: Negro Cults in the City, Part 11” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

Hundreds of Negroes in Chicago flocked to the new leader, who had become known as Noble Drew Ali. They believed that the change in identification from Negro to Asiatic would bring salvation. The members were given a large calling card which bore the inscription: a replica of star and crescent with Islam beneath it, a replica of clasped hands with unity above it, and a replica of circled ‘7’ with Allah beneath it. Beneath this was the statement that the card represented their nationality and identification card, that the cult honoured all divine prophets, Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and Confucius, and that the bearer was a Moslem under the Divine laws of the Holy Koran of Mecca, Love, Truth, Peace, Freedom, and Justice. There was added: ‘I am a citizen of the U.S.A.’ Negroes who carried this card believed that the mere showing of the card would restrain white men if they would be inclined to disturb or harm Negroes. In fact, the members of the cult became so aggressive and insulting in their behavior towards whites that it was necessary for the Noble Drew Ali to admonish them against such behaviour. As the cult grew, some Negroes with education joined the organization and attempted to exploit the members by selling ‘herbs, magical charms, and potions, and literature pertaining to the cult’. As the internal strife increased, one of these would-be leaders was killed and Noble Drew Ali was arrested for murder, though he was not in Chicago at the time. He died under mysterious circumstances after being released from jail under bond and was awaiting trial. After the death of Noble Drew Ali, the cult split into a number of sects with some claiming that they were following him in his re-incarnation.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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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 looking at part 19 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

Immorality: Ruth Boaz, a White woman who left the movement and became a Christian, wrote an article revealing Father Divine as “a charlatan, a false god, cruel and cynical imposter…the Devil incarnate.” Miss Boaz admitted having sexual relations with Father Divine, who evidently freely engaged in adultery while preaching sexual abstinence or “non-sex,” as he called it, to his followers. Even married couples who joined the movement were separated and were not allowed to live together. Miss Boaz was told that “God” does as he pleases, and that he sought to eliminate her desire by bringing it to the surface.

Divine was exposed some years earlier in the 1930s by one Viola Wilson or Faithful Mary, who substantially told the same thing about Father Divine’s sex life. In 1946 he married Edna Rose Ritchings, a White Canadian then known as Sweet Angel, now as Mother Divine. She was twenty-one; Father was eighty or eighty-one. A Baptist minister in Washington, D.C. performed the ceremony, Mother Divine is now head of the movement, controlling the money and making the important decisions. It is note-worthy that, according to Miss Boaz, four of the six top officials in the movement were White.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #75

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with episode #75 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Ephesians 2:8-9 which reads: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

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 writes, “According to Keller (2000), “The largest religious group in the world is Christianity with a total world membership of approximately 1,929,987,000 or 33% of the world population” (p. 28). Hence, approximately two billion of the world’s population of six billion at this point in time were Christians. Islam is the second largest religion in the world with a membership of 1,147,494,000 or 19.6% of the world’s population. Keller (2000) stated that 300 million of these are in Africa and 4.06 million are in North America. However, other estimates of the number of Muslims in North America are higher.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 9: The Carolinas and Georgia, Part 4” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

Much of Georgia’s slave code, adopted in 1755, was taken from the South Carolina code, and it reflected South Carolina’s experience rather than Georgia’s. For example, the interdiction against more than seven Negroes being out together without a white chaperone indicated South Carolina’s general fear of black uprisings. Between Saturday evening and Monday morning, not even those slaves who were authorized to possess firearms were permitted to carry them on their persons. Under no conditions were they to be taught to read and write.

If the slaves of colonial Georgia did not actually engage in rebellion, they nevertheless resisted their enslavement by running away to Florida and by committing acts of sabotage. Strangely enough, Georgia displayed a relative indifference to insurrection by subjecting her slaves to service in the militia. Perhaps the service that Spanish Florida rendered as a place of escape for more discontented blacks made possible the paradoxical practice of using blacks as Georgia’s militiamen to assist in the return of fugitive slaves to Georgia.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 24: Negro Cults in the City, Part 10” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

In this cult, it will be noted, the Negro members have found an escape from their traditional identification and lowly status and become the first people of the earth. Even God has become black. This transformation of the Negroes is reinforced by the learning of the Hebrew language on the part of the members of the cult. The fact that they have dispensed with the Bible as the final authority and refused to observe such Christian holidays as Christmas and Easter is an indication of the extent to which they have broken with traditional Negro religion. It is also significant that death and funerals, which have been such an important part of the religious life of the Negro, are of little consequence.

The second cult, the Moorish Science Temple of America, represents an even more radical departure from the traditional religion of the Negro. Moreover, as we shall see, it takes on the character of a nationalistic religion. The founder of the Moorish Science Temple was Timothy Drew who was born in North Carolina in 1886. Sometime in his life he came into contact with oriental philosophy and ‘was impressed with its racial catholicity. The fruits of his research have been compressed into the Holy Koran of the Moorish Holy Temple of Science, which is not to be confused with the orthodox Mohammedan Koran. Moreover, he became obsessed with the idea that Negroes could find salvation by discovering their national origin and refuse henceforth ‘to be called Negroes, black folk, coloured people, or Ethiopians’ and call themselves Asiatics or specifically Moors or Moorish Americans. He bagan his crusade by haranguing small groups of Negroes on street corners, in tenements, and on vacant lots. To compensate for his little formal education, he possessed a certain personal magnetism and gave evidence of being sincere in his desire to help Negroes to escape from race prejudice and racial discriminations. He established his first temple in Newark, New Jersey, and as his following increased, temples were set up in Pittsburgh, Detroit, and cities in the South. But his major achievement was the establishment of a temple in Chicago.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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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 looking at part 18 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

Wealth of the Movement: After this “divine retribution,” the conviction was reversed and Father Divine was freed on June 24, 1932. From that point on, money poured in, until the movement was worth an estimated twenty million dollars, with holdings in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York worth approximately twelve million dollars. The organization’s more substantial financial support came from Whites. Divine was fined $60 in 1953 for speeding on the New Jersey Turnpike. He forbade his followers to travel on it. Evidently deity did not own everything in the world.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #73

Welcome to episode #73 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Romans 10:9 which reads: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

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 writes, “In a report of a nationwide survey of more than 2,600 adults, titled “Ethnic Groups Differ Substantially on Matters of Faith, the finding was that Blacks were the segment with the most traditional Christian beliefs and practices. Specifically, Barna found that Blacks had the highest percentage on the following dimensions compared to Whites, Asians, and Hispanics:

– read the Bible in the last week (59%)
– attended religious service in the past week (48%
– prayed to God in the last week (91%)
– participated in a small group in the past week (31%)
– strongly agreed that the Bible is totally accurate (57%)
– strongly disagreed that Jesus Christ sinned while on earth (49%)
– was a born-again Christian (47%)

Additionally, Blacks had the lowest percentage that said they were atheist or agnostic (5%).”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 7: The Carolinas and Georgia, Part 2” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

Carolinians had not established their controls too soon, for as early as 1711 there were rumors that blacks were getting out of hand. In 1720 several slaves were burned alive and others were banished because they were implicated in a revolt near Charleston. In subsequent years there were other revolts or rumors of revolts. In 1739 the well-known Stono Rebellion twenty miles west of Charleston threw the countryside into a state of wild excitement. After slaves killed two guards in a warehouse and secured arms, they went on a full-scale drive to destroy slavery in that area. The uprising was put down, but not for several days and not before thirty whites and forty-four blacks had lost their lives. As Peter Wood has said, the black majority in South Carolina would be a continuing cause of apprehension. Later in the century there were other uprisings, and the general state of affairs led to a full-scale revision of the slave code.

Before the Revolution, South Carolina, now divided from North Carolina, had enacted one of the most stringent set of laws governing slaves to be found anywhere in the New World. The selling of liquor to slaves was prohibited. Owners were warned against undue cruelty to slaves which might incite them to revolt. Owners were prohibited from working slaves more than fifteen hours per day between March 25 and September 25 and for more than fourteen hours per day between September 25 and March 25. These last few provisions were a tacit admission that slaves could be driven to revolt. What Carolinians realized all too late was that slaves were not as tractable as they had believed and that the danger of having so large a slave population in their midst was more real than fancied.

If conditions were at all ameliorated among Carolina slaves, it was the result of the efforts of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. SPG missionaries sought to raise the level of living among both whites and blacks. In some instances they met with considerable success. They suggested that slaves should be given time to study the Scriptures and to learn to read and write. In many cases they taught slaves themselves, and in one notable instance they fostered the establishment of a school for blacks in Charleston in which the teachers were slaves owned by the SPG. While these were significant ameliorations, they were also evidences of acceptance of the basic idea of enslavement, and with the religious sanction that the SPG gave to slavery, planters felt more secure than ever in their belief in the righteousness of the institution.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 22: Negro Cults in the City, Part 8” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

Only relatively brief attention can be given to those cults which belong more specifically to the Spiritualistic group. It seems that the Spiritualist cult in Chicago was founded in New Orleans and transplanted to the North. This cult flourished especially during the Great Depression. It should be noted that it borrowed its hymns from the Baptists and Methodists, and its altar candles and statues from the Catholic Church. The preachers and mediums wore colourful robes and offered healing advice, and ‘good luck’ for a prayer and the price of a candle or holy flower. The mediums claimed direct contact with the sources of wisdom. The Spiritualist cult was differentiated from the Holiness cult by the fact that the former was not opposed to card-playing, dancing, or ‘sporting life’. It was rumoured that it might give advice in playing the illicit lottery game, known as ‘policy’ or ‘the numbers’.

We come finally to two cults which are of considerable importance because in them the Negro does not seek salvation in the usual sense but finds an escape from his identification as a Negro. One of these cults is the Church of God or Black Jews. The cult was founded years ago by a Negro, known as Prophet F. S. Cherry, from ‘the Deep South, which he refers to as a place worse than hell’. He is a self-educated man who has travelled over the world as a seaman and worked as a common labourer all over the United States. Prophet Cherry welcomes educated men to his church but takes a special pleasure in ridiculing educated people and making fun of their manners and ways of thinking. He seems to get a great deal of pleasure from his vituperations against the clergy whom he calls ‘damn fools’ and ‘vultures’. On his pulpit there is always a Bible in Yiddish and another in Hebrew since he is conversant with these two languages. He does not wear a special dress as the leaders of many cults, except occasionally when he appears in a black academic gown, the sleeves having yellow stripes.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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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 looking at part 16 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

FATHER DIVINE
Learning to be God: Joseph Washington considers the Father Divine Peace Mission Movement as a combination “faith-healing” and “holiness” cult. Frazier also states that the movement is the most important and most widely known of the holiness cults. The “holiness” is seen in the group’s tenets which include no undue mixing of the sexes, no smoking, drinking, dancing, vulgarity, profanity or obscenity, and no receiving of gifts, presents, tips, or bribes.

Who was Father Divine? George Baker–that was his name before he became “God”–was born on a plantation to sharecropper parents in about 1865 on Hutchinson Island on the Savannah River, Georgia. In 1899 he met the Reverend St. John the Divine Hickerson, a dynamic Black mystic, in Baltimore, Maryland, where Hickerson was pastor of a Baptist church. Baker met another Black preacher of great personal magnetism or charisma, Samuel Morris, who somehow convinced Baker that since God dwelt in him, he was God and so entitled to divine authority. Baker and Morris teamed up, then Hickerson joined them in 1908. The trio continued until 1912.

Dissension split their ranks when a dispute rose over who was really deity and who was not. Baker headed back South, preaching that he was “God.” Arrested in Valdosta, Georgia, in 1914, he refused to give his name; the court writ read: “The people vs. John Doe, Alias God.” Found guilty as a community menace, he was run out of town. In 1915 he arrived in New York City with some of his followers and once more he contacted Hickerson, and again became a student of the art of being “God.” Shortly after coming to New York, he married Penninah, one of his faithful followers, from Valdosta, Georgia. However, J. Austin Norris, Father Divine’s attorney, stated that Father actually married Penninah on June 6, 1882. In 1941 Penninah disappeared from public view and only after Divine had married a second time in 1946 did he admit to his followers that his first wife had died.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #72

Welcome to episode #72 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Titus 3:5 which reads: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

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 writes, “If the estimate of the number of African American Christian congregations is correct (75,000), then there is theoretically one congregation for every 480 African Americans (in making this statement, I am well aware that many African Americans are members of predominantly White congregations). Barna’s data regarding African Americans reveal the following: 57% of African Americans compared to 39% of adults nationwide were more likely to say they were a “born-again Christian”. 21% were unchurched compared to 39% of Whites. 53% attended church services on a given Sunday. The typical “Black church” had an average attendance that was about 50% greater than that of the typical “White church”.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 6: The Carolinas and Georgia, Part 1” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

It was a foregone conclusion that slaves would be introduced into the Carolinas as soon as it was feasible. After all, four of the proprietors of the colony were members of the Royal African Company and fully appreciated the profits that could come from the slave trade. By 1680, moreover, the examples of Virginia and Maryland led them to believe that Carolina could become prosperous, with plantation slavery as one of the important foundations of the colony’s economic life. Perhaps John Locke had these things in mind when, in his Fundamental Constitutions, he wrote, “Every freeman of Carolina shall have absolute power and authority over his negro slaves, of what opinion or religion soever.” This statement clearly sanctioned slavery and protected it against any possible destruction that might have come through the conversion of slaves to Christianity.

Blacks were present in the Carolina colony virtually from the beginning. This was undoubtedly the result of deliberate encouragement of the importation of slaves by the proprietors. In 1663 they offered to the original settlers twenty acres for every black man slave and ten acres for every black woman slave brought into the colony in the first year. Somewhat smaller incentives were offered for the importation of slaves in subsequent years. Twenty years after the original settlements, the black population in the Carolinas was equal to that of the white. By 1715 blacks outnumbered whites 10,500 to 6,250. In 1724 there were three times as many blacks as whites, and the growth of the black population was to continue for decades to come.

As in the other colonies, the growth of the black population led to the enactment of legislation aimed at controlling the activities of slaves. As early as 1686 the Carolina colony forbade blacks to engage in any kind of trade, and it enjoined them from leaving their masters’ plantations without written authorization. In 1722 white justices were authorized to search blacks for guns, swords, “and other offensive weapons” and to capture them unless they could produce a permit less than one month old authorizing them to carry such a weapon. Patrols were given authority to search blacks and to whip those deemed to be dangerous to peace and good order. Punishments for offenses by slaves were summary and severe.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 21: Negro Cults in the City, Part 7” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

This cult is distinguished by physical frenzy in which the sex motive is prominent. With aid of a piano and a drum the worshippers engage in ecstatic dancing during which in response to allusions to sex motives, the worshippers cry out, ‘Daddy, you feel so good’. These emotional debauches are generally used to collect money from the members. Moreover, Grace engaged in all kinds of businesses, the products of which bore his name, as for example, Daddy Grace Toothpaste.

When Bishop Grace died his wealth was variously estimated to be from five million to twenty-five million dollars. Since he died suddenly on the West coast, the funeral cortege crossed the country, stopping at a number of cities for funeral services which provided occasions for wild frenzied gatherings on the part of his worshippers. He was finally buried in a large expensive mausoleum in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the scene of his first home in the United States.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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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 looking at part 15 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

(3) Speaking in tongues is not essential to salvation (4) Acts 2:38 is not the key verse of the Bible. Acts is a Book of historical account of the birth and growth of the Church, a record of a time of change, transition and development.

In our century, there are those who try to tell us that the church should be today just as it was in the book of the Acts…thank God that this is not true. The church of…the Acts was a church without a New Testament. The church at the end of the apostolic age was a church that possessed the New Testament. There is a vast difference between the two. The church of the year following Pentecost was a church of tongues and imitation tongues, of signs and false signs, of movements of the Spirit and of counterfeits of such movements.

(5) The Bible definitely teaches that the one true and living God exists as Father, Son and Holy Spirit at the same time. (6) What is said over a candidate for baptism is a formula nowhere given in the Bible, nor does salvation depend upon such a formula (7) Jesus Christ is not God the Father, but God the Son who came to make known the Father to all mankind. No man has or can see God as He fully and essentially exists–as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God absolute is more than God revealed.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #71

Welcome to episode #71 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is John 14:6 which reads: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

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 writes, “Updating Lincoln and Mamiya’s church membership data (they estimated a total membership of 23,700,000 in the 1980s) and using the same percentages they used, it would be estimated that of the African American population (36,023,000 of the total 282,082,000 as of March 2002; see Current Population Statistics for constant updates), that 28,097,940 of the 36,023,000 (78%) are church members and have attended services at least once in the last six months. The remaining 7,925,060 or 22% of the 36,023,000 African Americans are not church members and have not attended a service in a six-month period.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 5: Virginia and Maryland, Part 5” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

The increase in the black population and fear on the part of whites for their own safety led to the enactment of stringent laws covering their conduct and activities. In 1659 came laws relating to the return and treatment of fugitive slaves. Soon there were laws forbidding slaves to deal in stolen goods and liquor, as well as laws providing for the punishment of free blacks and slaves found guilty of murder, arson, larceny, association with whites, insolence, and going about without permission. Punishment ranged from death to branding and whipping. Enforcement was rigorous, but clemency was not rare. There are numerous examples of intervention on behalf of slaves accused by masters who, while approving of the strict enforcement of the law, wanted “on just this occasion” a bit of leniency.

There is a real possibility that the blacks in Maryland were a contributing factor to the religious strife that existed in that colony. From its very beginning in 1634, Maryland had witnessed an intense rivalry between Catholics, favored by the ruling Calverts, and Protestants, who were heartened by the Puritan ascendancy in England. In 1689 there were rumors that the Catholics were plotting against the government of Maryland. Indians were suspected of collusion with the Catholics, and the blacks of some of the southern counties were also watched with suspicious eyes. This doubtless led to the law of 1695 which prevented frequent meetings of blacks. In the eighteenth century when some Maryland colonists hoped for a Jacobite succession in England, those opposed to it continued to keep under surveillance all the Catholics, Indians, and blacks to be certain that they did not conspire to commit some devilish act. No effective rebellion ever materialized, but blacks enjoyed the distinction of being suspected of belonging to an international clique conspiring to overthrow the government of Maryland before handing it over to the French, the Indians, the English Catholics, or all three.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 20: Negro Cults in the City, Part 6” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

Mother Horne, who lacked the humour of Elder Michaux, carried on a grim evangelism of the fire and brimstone variety. She claimed to have raised thousands of people from the dead besides having made hundreds of the blind see. In their religious services the members of Mother Horne’s cult are stimulated by clapping their hands to maddening rhythms accompanied by a piano and a drum. They generally give testimonies to the powers of Mother Horne while she illuminates these testimonies with such remarks as ‘punching the devil in the eye’. She was reputed to have had properties worth millions of dollars which enabled her and her daughter to live well.

The recent death in 1960 of Bishop Charles Emmanuel Grace, better known as ‘Daddy’ Grace, has brought to the attention of the American people a cult leader of considerable influence who possessed a considerable fortune. He was a man of mixed parentage, Negro and Portuguese, who came to the United States around 1920. He is said to have worked as a cook in the railway service before he began to preach in 1925. He founded an organization known as the United House of Prayer for All People with churches in twenty or more cities along the eastern seaboard. Bishop Grace, with his flowing hair, was the undisputed head of the United House of Prayer. All moneys had to be returned to Grace in his office in Washington. Membership in this organization was supposed to be based upon a special religious experience, but membership seemed to be open to anyone. There was considerable emphasis upon the money with the result that numerous collections were taken during the services. This cult is essentially a sect of the holiness type, including conversion, sanctification, and the usual taboos. According to Fauset, ‘the beliefs boil down to a worship of Daddy Grace. God appears to be all but forgotten.’ Bishop Grace has been heard to tell his worshippers: ‘Never mind about God. Salvation is by Grace only. Grace has given God a vacation, and since God is on His vacation, don’t worry Him. …. If you sin against God, Grace can save you, but if you sin against Grace, God cannot save you.’

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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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 looking at part 14 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

We meet certain professed Christians today who deny what is called the Eternal Sonship of Christ. They tell us He was not Son from eternity. They admit He was the Word, as set forth in John 1:1, but they say He became the Son when He was born on earth. Galatians 4:4 definitely denies any such teaching. “God sent forth His Son to be born of a woman.” He was the Son before He ever stooped from the heights of glory to the virgin womb. It was the Son who came in grace to become Man in order that we might be saved.

This same truth is set forth in 1 John 4:9,10: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” Nothing could be clearer than the two definite statements in these verses. God sent His Son, sent Him into the world, sent Him from heaven, even as John 3:16 declares. We dishonor the Lord Jesus Christ if we deny His eternal Sonship. If He be not the Eternal Son, then God is not the Eternal Father.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

Negro Cults in the City, Part 6 (The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #70)

Welcome to episode #70 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Matthew 5:13 which reads: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.”

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 writes, “Lincoln and Mamiya estimated that 86% of Black Americans were Christians (80% were in seven major denominations and another 6 percent were in the smaller communions). Further, according to them, the following were characteristic of African Americans and/or “African-American churches” in the 1980s:

— Approximately 78% of all African Americans claimed church membership and attended church services at least once in a six-month period.

— African Americans had slightly higher weekly attendance rates (40%).

— African Americans had the highest rate of being what the sociologists call “super churched” (attending more than once weekly (37% versus 31%).

— African American denominations had not experienced severe declines in membership experienced by some mainstream White denominations like the Disciples of Christ (40%), the United Presbyterian Church (33%), or the Episcopal Church (33%).

Gallup and Jones found in their survey that 96% of all American adults believed in God or a universal spirit. For Blacks, Gallup and Jones reported that virtually 100% indicated a belief in God or a higher power. Thus given these percentages, the Protestant Christian church community has a large impact on individuals in America and particularly the Black and White populations.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 4: Virginia and Maryland, Part 4” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

The slave population of Maryland was slow to increase, not because of any disinclination on the part of colonists to own slaves but because they were not in ample supply during the colony’s early years. This is the principal reason why, during the restoration period, laws were enacted to encourage and facilitate the importation of slaves. In 1671 the legislature declared that the conversion of slaves to Christianity would not affect their status. Masters now felt that they could import African heathens, convert them to Christianity, and thus justify the act of holding them in slavery. By the end of the century the importation of slaves was increasing steadily. In 1708 the governor reported that 600 or 700 had been imported during the preceding ten months. By 1750 there were 40,000 blacks as compared with 100,000 whites.

As in Virginia, blacks in Maryland early showed resentment against their status as slaves. In several instances white masters died at the hands of their slaves, and there was more than one case of a black cook poisoning an owner. In 1742 seven blacks were executed for the murder of their masters. Others were convicted for committing acts of sabotage such as arson, stealing of property, and the brutal treatment of livestock.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 19: Negro Cults in the City, Part 6” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

The followers of Father Divine believe that he is God and that he will never die. To them God has appeared as a Negro because the Negro is the lowliest of God’s creatures and God prefers to bring salvation to the lowly. The followers of Father Divine are not to refer to the passage of time, as for example, age. A true follower of Father Divine will never die and illness means that he has strayed from the faith. Death represents the culmination of the failure to live according to the faith. When faced with difficulty, the faithful need only to say, ‘Thank you, Father’.

Father Divine made his triumphant entrance into Harlem during the first half of 1932 at the depth of the Great Depression. To hungry Harlem, ‘The real God is the God who feeds us’. Ten years later, Father Divine, though God, fled from New York City to Philadelphia in order to avoid a number of embarrassing lawsuits. There ensued a struggle for the spiritual control of the Negro masses in Harlem. The two contenders were Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux [MIH-SHOH], a former fish peddler, whose disciples call him the ‘Happy Am I Prophet’, and the other was Mother Rosa Artimus Horne, a former seamstress, described as the ‘Pray for Me Priestess’. One investigator has written as follows: ‘While sharing a mutual dislike for each other, the two oracles have many things in common. Both operate five temples throughout the nation; claim to be miraculous healers; profess national radio and sawdust trail followings numbering in the hundreds of thousands; are coy about revealing the exact amount of their earnings; and both are adroit showmen who harbour contempt for the methods of Father Divine.’ Elder Michaux [MIH-SHOH] has a larger popular appeal and has been able to enhance his prestige by association with important public leaders. He has had mass baptisms in the Griffith Stadium in Washington, where two hundred white-robed candidates are immersed in water from the Potomac River. His sermons consist chiefly of tirades against sin, rowdy women, slot machines, whisky, beer, and gamblers. He is reputed to be a millionaire and keeps a retinue of servants, including cooks, valets, maids for his wife, and chauffeurs to drive his eight large automobiles. He has much influence among some government officials who regard him as a spokesman for many Negro church people.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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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 looking at part 13 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

In January 1961, Bishop Johnson arrived in Kingston, Jamaica, to visit a branch of his church. Addressing a large meeting on February 17, the bishop collapsed. He was taken to the home of an elder, where he died of pneumonia. In conformity with the tenet of his church, there was no viewing and no formal funeral. For more than twenty years Bishop Johnson broadcast in Philadelphia. In time, his talks were taped and sent out over more than sixty other radio stations. More than ninety congregations, including three in the West Indies and one at Toronto, Canada, have sprung from the original church. Communicants numbered many thousands. Under Bishop Johnson the organization practiced washing of feet and prohibited the wearing of cosmetics and silk stockings, straightening of hair, use of alcoholic beverages, and attending the movies. Members were forbidden to watch television or listen to the radio except to hear the bishop. He was also against women preachers. However, other Apostolic assemblies are not as stringent. Johnson claimed that (1) he was an apostle. (2) Christ is no longer the Son of God. (3) you must speak in tongues in order to be saved. (4) Acts 2:38 is the key verse in the Bible, (5) there is no Trinity, (6) the words, “I baptize you in the name of Jesus Christ” must be pronounced over the candidate or else he is not saved, and (7) Jesus Christ is the Father (the Father’s name is Jesus)!

We see here the apostasy predicted in 2 Peter and Jude. Despite the Bishop’s claims (1) there are no apostles today. The true apostolic church ceased with the death of John the apostle about 100 A.D. (2) Christ’s Sonship is not based upon the Incarnation. He did not become the Son at birth or give up His Sonship at death. Jesus Christ always was, is now, and ever shall be the Son of God.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

Negro Cults in the City, Part 5 (The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #69)

Welcome to episode #69 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Galatians 5:1 which reads: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”

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 writes, “The possibilities for positive working relationships between the field of psychology and the church community clearly exist. However, there are numerous challenges that must be faced head-on by both communities. In this chapter, the basic tension points have been addressed and suggestions have been made to help resolve them.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 3: Virginia and Maryland, Part 3” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

But the fears of insurrection were not groundless. Within two years after the first statutory recognition of slavery, the blacks of Virginia were showing clear signs of dissatisfaction and began to plot rebellion against their masters. In 1687, while a funeral was taking place, a group of slaves in the northern neck planned an uprising, but the plot was discovered before it could be carried out. Rumors continued, and plots of varying sizes were uncovered. Where there were no plots there was general disobedience and lawlessness. By 1694 Virginia slaves had become so ungovernable that Governor Edmund Andros complained that there was insufficient enforcement of the code which, by that time, had become elaborate enough to cover most of the activities of slaves.

The Virginia slave code, borrowing heavily from practices in the Caribbean and serving as a model for other mainland codes, was comprehensive if it was anything at all. Slaves were not permitted to leave plantations without the written permission of their masters. Slaves wandering about without such permits were to be returned to their masters. Slaves found guilty of murder or rape were to be hanged. For major offenses, such as robbing a house or a store, slaves were to receive sixty lashes and be placed in the pillory, where their ears were to be cut off. For petty offenses, such as insolence and associating with whites or free blacks, they were to be whipped, branded, or maimed. The docility of slaves, about which many masters boasted, was thus achieved through the enactment of a comprehensive code containing provisions fo punishment designed to break even the most irascible blacks in the colony. With the sheriffs, the courts, and even slaveless whites on their side, the masters should have experienced no difficulty in maintaining peace among their slaves.

While slavery in Maryland was not recognized by law until 1663, it came into existence shortly after the first settlements were made in 1634. As early as 1638 there was reference to slavery in some of the discussions in the legislature, and in 1641 the governor himself owned a number of slaves. Colonists had no difficulty, therefore, in turning their attention to the problem of the status of blacks and in concluding that legislation was necessary to fix their status as slaves. The law of 1663 was rather drastic. It undertook to reduce to slavery all blacks in the colony even though some were already free, and it sought to impose slave status on all blacks born in the colony regardless of the status of their mothers. It was not until 1681 that the law was brought in line with established practices by declaring that black children of white women and children born of free black women would be free.

The slave population of Maryland was slow to increase, not because of any disinclination on the part of colonists to own slaves but because they were not in ample supply during the colony’s early years. This is the principal reason why, during the restoration period, laws were enacted to encourage and facilitate the importation of slaves. In 1671 the legislature declared that the conversion of slaves to Christianity would not affect their status. Masters now felt that they could import African heathens, convert them to Christianity, and thus justify the act of holding them in slavery. By the end of the century the importation of slaves was increasing steadily. In 1708 the governor reported that 600 or 700 had been imported during the preceding ten months. By 1750 there were 40,000 blacks as compared with 100,000 whites.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 18: Negro Cults in the City, Part 5” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

Another important feature of this cult is that it does not tolerate any form of racial discrimination. Wherever Negroes and whites live together, they are required to eat and sleep together. This may account for the fact that the movement has not spread into the South. At the same time it has been suggested that the strict sexual taboos are designed to meet the eventuality that the movement may spread into the South. Nevertheless, after Mother Divine died, Father Divine married a young white woman about twenty-two years of age, who has become the new Mother Divine. The sex taboo forbids man and wife to live together. When a married couple enter the cult, they become brother and sister and can have no relations with the opposite sex. Even dancing with members of the opposite sex is forbidden.

Although intoxicants are strictly forbidden, there are no food taboos. And what is more important, business enterprises are encouraged. In fact, the movement publishes a weekly periodical, New Day, which is the sacred text of the organization rather than the Bible. New Day contains every speech uttered by Father Divine. It also carries advertisements of many large and well-known commercial enterprises. Every advertisement carries within its text the injunction: ‘Peace’ and sometimes adds ‘Thank you, Father’. The use of such words as Negro and white is forbidden. A single copy of New Day may contain 132 pages filled, with the exception of the advertisements, with the words and activities of Father Divine.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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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 looking at part 12 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

THE APOSTOLICS
Perhaps the largest and best known of the Apostolics is The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith, founded by the late Bishop Sherrod C. Johnson. Born in Halifax County, North Carolina, in 1898, Johnson went to Philadelphia before he was twenty to become a businessman. He met several holiness preachers in North Philadelphia and shortly afterward, according to a church spokesman, differed with them and started preaching in his home. As the number of his followers grew, they moved three times to larger quarters. In October 1947 the church purchased the building of the Bethany Collegiate Presbyterian Church for $105,000. Founded in 1858 by John Wanamaker, who was superintendent of its Sunday School until his death in 1922, it was considered one of the largest Presbyterian churches in the world. The building burned to the ground in November 1958. Betty Ann McDowell, ten years old, one of about 1,500 worshipers when the seven-alarm blaze was discovered, died in the building.

Bishop Johnson immediately set out to build a one-story structure with a seating capacity of 3,500. The basement chapel accomodates 1,500 and there are offices, a dining hall, a nursery, and a studio room for broadcasts. The building was constructed with a minimum of paid labor. Workmen and laborers who were church members contributed hours of work. Bishop Johnson insisted that the building proceed on a pay-as-you-go basis. There were no mortgages, no indebtedness, and no public solicitation of funds, although estimates at that time of the value of the structure ranged to one million dollars.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

Negro Cults in the City, Part 4 (The History of Black Americans and the Black Church #68)

Welcome to episode #68 of the The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is 1 John 4:4 which reads: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

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 writes, “While there are few national associations of predominantly Black Christian counselors, social workers, counselors, or therapists (The Association of Biblical Counselors is the exception), there is a Division of the American Association of Christian Counselors Association. This division is called the Black African-American Christian Counselors. There are increasing numbers of Black Christian counselors, psychologists, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists throughout the nation. Biblical counseling professionals must network with such professionals. This responsibility is true for both sides.”

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery, Part 2: Virginia and Maryland, Part 2” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

The actual statutory recognition of slavery in Virginia came in 1661. The status of blacks already there was not affected if they had completed their indenture and were free. As a matter of fact, the recognition was almost casual and was first indicated in a law directed at white servants: “That in case any English servant shall run away in company with any negroes who are incapable of making satisfaction by addition of time . . . that the English so running away . . . shall serve for the time of the said negroes’ absence as they are to for their owne.” In the following year, 1662, Virginia took another step toward slavery by indicating in its laws that children born in the colony would be held in bond or free according to the condition of the mother. Some mitigation of slavery was intended by a 1667 law indicating that slaves could be baptized as Christians. In order to protect the institution of slavery, however, this law provided that “the conferring of baptisme doth not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedome.” Thus, “diverse masters, freed from this doubt, may more carefully endeavour the propagation of Christianity.”

At first the black population of Virginia grew quite slowly. In 1625 there were only 23 in the colony, and as late as the middle of the century scarcely 300 could be counted. With the chartering of the Royal African Company in 1672 the shipment of slaves into the colony was accelerated. By the end of the century they were being brought in at the rate of more than 1,000 per year. It was in the eighteenth century that the black population grew at what some Virginians began to view as an alarming rate. In 1708 there were 12,000 blacks and 18,000 whites. By 1756 there were 120,156 blacks and 173,316 whites, with blacks outnumbering whites in many communities.

Although Virginians greatly appreciated the importance of slave labor in the development of the colony, they soon became apprehensive about such large numbers of blacks living among whites. Already whites and blacks were mixing, and a mulatto population was emerging. There were, moreover, persistent rumors of conspiracies of rebellion, and many whites feared for their lives. Those who were apprehensive took the lead in attempting to control the importation of slaves, but commercial interests fought off these attempts with all the resources at their command. For the time being they were successful.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 17: Negro Cults in the City, Part 4” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

It was not long before the attention of the public authorities was called to the fact that women were living in the ‘Heaven’. Moreover, the white residents complained about the noise and the motley throng of men and women who were attracted to these emotional orgies. Divine became a sort of martyr when he and his followers were arrested and he was indicted for maintaining a public nuisance. When Divine refused to co-operate with authorities his case was taken before Justice Lewis J. Smith of the Supreme Court of Nassau County, a Presbyterian who was disgusted that educated white men and women should testify that they believed Divine was the ‘personified perfection’ of God. Divine was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to jail. Within less than a week after Divine’s conviction, Justice Smith died unexpectedly. It was this event that set on Father Divine the seal of omnipotence in the eyes of his followers. Divine was released from jail on bail during an appeal to the Appellate Court which reversed the ruling of Judge Smith. In Harlem at a mass meeting characterized by shouting and singing where white women as well as black sought to kiss his hand there occurred ‘the apotheosis, the deification of the man who acclaimed himself Father Divine’.

Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement is distinguished from other cults first by the fact that Father Divine is the organization and that all directions are issued by him. This follows logically from the fact that Father Divine is God. He is surrounded by secretaries, the majority of whom are white and Negro women, who record everything he says and transmit his orders to his followers. His intimate participation in every activity is indicated by his role at the banquet table or Holy Communion, where every dish passes through his hands, he pours the first glass of water, cuts the first slice of cake, and places the serving spoon in each container. Certain figures are close to Divine, one being his personal secretary and the other his wife, known as Mother Divine. Everything done, even in other cities, must meet with his approval and he meets scores of his followers daily from far and near. His followers have been estimated from thousands to several millions but nobody knows the actual number. Nor is it easy to ascertain how membership is attained. It appears that one type of member is the person who subscribes to the beliefs and practices and attends service and the other has renounced the world completely and joins the ‘kingdom’ after disposing of his worldly goods according to instructions. He becomes completely subject to the will of Father Divine. This is all tied up with the question of the support of the movement, a question which no one has been able to answer.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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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 looking at part 11 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

After analyzing all the reasons why Blacks are attracted to the cults–the personalities of the founders and leaders; the economic, social, and spiritual conditions of their members; the need to fulfill their desire of being wanted and loved; the feeling of belonging; plus the faults and failures of the orthodox and established churches–there still remains the matter of the sin of unbelief in the human heart. And there is the role played by Satan, the world’s greatest deceiver and the father of every cult, false belief, and “ism.” Sociologists with their facts and figures fail to recognize this malignant being who directs all cult activity.

But Bible-centered believers cannot afford to gloss over Satan’s work in this area. We know that the world is asleep in Satan’s lap, but we rejoice because Christ who is in us is greater than the Devil in the world. Three main cults that began during this Radicalism period of 1951-53 are the Apostolics, Father Divine, and the Black Muslims. Each group will be considered separately.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.

Negro Cults in the City, Part 3 (History of Black Americans and the Black Church #67)

Welcome to episode #67 of The History of Black Americans and the Black Church podcast.

Our Scripture Verse for today is Galatians 2:16 which reads: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

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 writes, “Such a conceptualization is consistent with Wimberly’s view of pastoral counseling and care as corporate. Why are these concepts important to the biblical counselors and the church in its approach to biblical counseling? An understanding and implementation of these approaches are necessary for at least the following reasons:
– Not all problems/issues need individual or small group counseling.
– No matter how skilled individual counselors are, many persons will not seek out counseling.
– Individual and small group counseling are time consuming and if they are the only options they are inefficient, at least for certain issues.
– Therapeutic communities need to be built. Communities cannot be built effectively by just dealing with individuals. The church is a community—the Body of Christ.
– Applying individual interventions to problems that stem from group and system-level issues will result in what William Ryan calls “blaming the victim.””

In this podcast, we are using as our texts: From Slavery to Freedom, by John Hope Franklin, The Negro Church in America by E. Franklin Frazier, and The Black Church In The U.S. by William A. Banks.

Our first topic for today is titled “Colonial Slavery: Virginia and Maryland, Part 1” from the book, “From Slavery to Freedom” by John Hope Franklin.

The twenty Africans who were put ashore at Jamestown in 1619 by the captain of a Dutch frigate were not slaves in a legal sense. And at the time Virginians seemed not to appreciate the far-reaching significance of the introduction of Africans into the fledgling colony. These newcomers, who happened to be black, were simply more indentured servants. They were listed as servants in the census counts of 1623 and 1624, and as late as 1651 some blacks whose period of service had expired were being assigned land in much the same way that it was being assigned to whites who had completed their indenture. During its first half-century of existence Virginia had many black indentured servants, and the records reveal an increasing number of free blacks.

But as time went on Virginia steadily fell behind in satisfying the labor needs of the colony with Indians and indentured servants. It was then that the colonists began to give serious thought to the “perpetual servitude” of blacks. Virginians began to see what neighboring islands in the Caribbean had already recognized, namely, that blacks could not easily escape without being identified; that they could be disciplined, even punished, with impunity since they were not Christians; and that the supply was apparently inexhaustible. Black labor was precisely what Virginia needed in order to speed up the clearing of the forests and the cultivation of larger and better tobacco crops. All that was required was legislative approval of a practice in which many Virginians were already engaged. Indeed, by 1640, some Africans in Virginia had become bondservants for life. The distinction between black and white servants was becoming well established. In that year, when three runaway servants, two white and one black, were recaptured, the court ordered the white servants to serve their master one additional year. The black servant, however, was ordered “to serve his said master or his assigns for the time of his natural life here or elsewhere.” Thus, within the first generation of Virginia’s existence, African servitude was well on the way to becoming African slavery.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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Our second topic for today is “Negro Religion in the City, Part 16: Negro Cults in the City, Part 3” from “The Negro Church in America” by E. Franklin Frazier.

Membership in this church is determined by a period of test- ing which ‘is known as sanctification, and an experience, usually speaking in tongues, which is the sign that one has been filled with the Holy Spirit’. 21 After one becomes a member one may join the Preachers’ Class in which one is drilled in the Bible and ‘spiritual wisdom’. Financial support of the church is provided through tithes and collections taken at the services when the bishop leads the members to the collection table. At these services there is singing and the clapping of hands after which there are testimonies. These testimonies tell of God’s having guided these witnesses to the power of Holy Spirit in healing ills of the body. The sermon by the bishop which consists of attacks upon the sins of this world which is approaching its end, results in the rising of individuals who become frenzied as they speak in tongues and engage in ‘shouting’. After the bishop leaves or rests, there are other services which culminate in a communion service during which they drink grape juice and are served crackers. The practices of the church include the tabooing of divorce and marriage outside the circle of members. Men and women may show sentiment toward each other only when they plan to marry. Women are required to dress in a ‘holy’ manner which means wearing plain black or white dresses and stockings, preferably of cotton, and if men wear neckties they must be plain white or black.

The most important and most widely known of the Holiness cults is the Father Divine Peace Mission Movement. Little is known of the history of Father Divine before 1919 when he acquired a modest cottage in Sayville, New Jersey, in response to an advertisement that one or two German-Americans, who still continued to fight the Great War, would sell even to ‘coloured buyers’. Major J. Divine, as he signed his name, and ‘Pinninah’, his wife, opened a free employment bureau but soon began to take in the destitute and feed them. During the next ten years or so people flocked in increasing numbers to the house for religious services and ‘Reverend’ Divine became ‘Father’ Divine. He added rooms to the house, which began to be known as ‘Heaven’, as the number of people came to ‘lift their voices in praise of Father Divine’. The visitors were impressed by the sumptuous feasts which were served after Father Divine had blessed every dish. Legends began to grow concerning the unlimited wealth of Father Divine and his miraculous powers of healing. Those who listened at the shaded windows ‘were shocked by ejaculations in which rapture and pain were intermingled with cries of “Thank you, Father”.’

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

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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 looking at part 10 of Chapter 5: “Radicalism: 1915 – 1953”

WHY THE CULTS?
The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ success in teaching is largely due to the fact that souls are hungry and too often they are not fed or taught. Many times I have spoken to Witnesses who said they never learned anything as Baptists. One lady Witness, who had been a Sunday School teacher for twenty-five years in a large Baptist church told me she never heard of the Battle of Armageddon until she joined the Watchtower Society. This is not surprising; her former pastor once declared that the Book of Revelation was so full of symbolism and so controversial that he had no intention of ever preaching from it.

Cults teach their people and challenge their minds; doctrine is foremost. But it is also true that some cults are strong because they stress the supernatural: faith healing, speaking in tongues, and tarrying for the Holy Spirit and a “second blessing,” etc. Some cults as well as the Christian groups came into being because of the glaring inconsistencies of the established churches. Groups that stress “holiness” exist in part as protests against the carnality and wickedness of orthodox denominational church members and leaders. Some Blacks have found greater acceptance in “White” cults than in conservative assemblies. A Black man could attend the Watchtower Society’s Gideon School but he could not attend or was not welcome at certain White fundamentalist institutions in America. Thus, the need for fellowship and the sense of belonging are supplied by the cults, fulfillment often not found in the denominational churches. Admittedly, some cults are racial, so their appeal is due to racial identification and the provision of a refuge from racism and impersonal city life.

If the Lord tarries His Coming and we live, we will continue looking at this topic in our next episode.

Let’s have a word of prayer.

In closing, allow me to say that like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people whom I grew up around said “being saved” was I now know is wrong according to the Bible. For example, joining the church, being baptized, doing good things, or being a good person does not mean you are saved. I wrote an article about this matter titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, gospellightsociety.com. Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment eternal Hell awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon the Lord in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

If you do that today, then you can truly sing in the words of the Old Negro spiritual: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty I’m free at last.

Until next time, may God richly bless you.