Are Black Churches a Key to Saving America?

By John Zmirak Published on November 17, 2017

I just got back from a conference of African-American pastors. I have arrived. I’m now an “ally.” That’s a word from Woke-speak, the language of social justice warriors. It’s a weird dialect. Kind of constricting, really. Like Orwell’s Newspeak, it conveys only a narrow range of concepts. By design. In Woke-speak, you can only really say the following things:

  • I feel guilty.
  • Even guiltier than you.
  • Which means I’m a better person, because I feel like an even worse one.
  • But you and I can agree, at least: THAT guy over there is even worse than we are.
  • Want to have some sterile, depressing sex? I’ve printed out our consent forms. …

The Coalition of African-American Pastors

In cold fact, there was probably no place on earth less SJW-friendly than that conference room in Henderson, NV, which hosted the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP). Which on one level should be surprising.

Its founder, Rev. Bill Owens, grew up in Jim Crow-era Memphis, Tennessee. He saw his father called “Boy” and worse. He saw white insurance collectors stalk into his house, leave on their hats, and insultingly call his mother by her first name. As if she were their maid, and not their customer.

Owens risked his neck in the Civil Rights Movement. The real one, which faced down the Klan, brutal sheriffs, police dogs, and all-white juries. Its claims were just, its methods moderate, its goals based in the gospel and the American founding. Owens marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. through hostile white Southern streets.

Civil Rights, Education, the Family

Years later, Owens lived out of his car while running a ministry he’d invented himself. Its task? Finding poor, disadvantaged African-American students, and putting them into college. Not just any college, though. Owens placed them at the devoutly Christian Oral Roberts University. A school which, it turns out, was never segregated. Oral Roberts, you see, was part-Indian. He had seen his mother suffer racist discrimination, and was determined not to allow such sinful practices at his school.

The left today uses movements like Black Lives Matter for a dark and cynical purpose.

But none of this would matter to sniffy white snowflakes today. Because Bill Owens is a Christian. A real one. This means that he didn’t just see the Bible as a stick with which to beat racists. (Though it’s perfectly right to use it that way, since the Word of God teaches that we are brothers first in Adam then in Christ.)

No, Owens also took seriously some other words of Genesis: “Man and woman he made them.” Starting in 2004 or so, Owens began to be deeply worried by inroads of LGBT activists. Not just in the laws, but in the churches. Owens learned from reliable sources that Barack Obama secretly favored same-sex marriage — though in public he said that he didn’t. Owens warned other black pastors about Obama’s view. Most of them told him to “zip it.” They said, “This is our chance to get one of our own people into the White House.”

Standing Up to Compromised Clergy

That didn’t sit well with Owens. As much as he has fought all his life for equal justice for Black Americans, he sees himself first as a Christian. So he came out in public against Obama’s candidacy, and reaped a public whirlwind.

Reclaim the “real Civil Rights movement,” which focused on equal citizenship and brotherhood across the color line. Its methods were hijacked by movements with aims partly or wholly incompatible with the Bible.

Bill Owen

Rev. Bill Owens

It got worse when Owens joined the campaign to defend natural marriage. But that fight did sift out the wheat from the chaff, he remembers. Which pastors were really committed to the Word of God as written? And which ones had simply, as he puts it, “sold their souls to the Democratic Party”?

Now almost 80 years old, Owens is still an activist. He’s connecting faithful black pastors with genuine, Christian allies of every background, and welding them together into a potent political force.

The Real Civil Rights Movement

He wants to reclaim the “real Civil Rights movement,” which focused on equal citizenship and brotherhood across the color line. That was hijacked, as he points out, by movements with aims that were partly or wholly incompatible with the Bible. Anti-family, pro-choice “women’s liberation” activists? “Gay liberation” marchers who for years didn’t spurn pedophiles in their midst such as NAMBLA — perhaps because their most prominent leader, Harvey Milk, liked to date underage boys. They were aping the Civil Rights movement, and that’s how they succeeded.

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Owens also has seen in the half-century since Lyndon Johnson was president that what the Democrats gave with one hand, they took away with the other. Yes, the Democrats finally dropped their 100-year fight against black civil rights and suffrage. Most of them. But at the same time, they constructed a massive, secular welfare state. As Owens puts it, the Great Society “drove the father out of the black American home, and replaced him with the government.” Those massive, expensive programs also bought the loyalty of millions of new voters, even as Democratic party machines selectively purchased their pastors.

Why else did Jesse Jackson go from calling abortion “Black genocide” in the early 70s, to supporting that evil practice? Why else do so many ministers stand up and defend Planned Parenthood — a eugenics organization whose founder, Margaret Sanger, addressed the Ku Klux Klan?

Black Solidarity, Polish Style?

The suffering that American blacks endured in America was distinctive. The Civil Rights movement they launched was uniquely important, and deeply Christian. Yet the politics that captured too many black Americans right afterward was secular, statist, and deeply counterproductive. Now the left is becoming ever more openly anti-Christian. So Owens thinks his moment has arrived. It’s time for the black church and the white church to bury their old quarrels and unite in self-defense. The well-earned moral credibility of the black church, Owens argues, is critical to winning the culture wars.

It’s a worthy idea. As I noted during the conference, the left today uses movements like Black Lives Matter for a dark and cynical purpose. They hope to peel black Americans away from their long-suffering patriotism — a virtue they practiced even under fire in a segregated military. The left sees American blacks the way that Marxists long saw the working class: a mass of potential shock troops for its ideological agenda.

Communism didn’t fall until it was clear that workers wanted absolutely nothing to do with it. It was a Polish labor union, Solidarity, that brought down the Berlin Wall. It might be that conservative Christians won’t prevail against the intolerant, secular left until their imagined shock troops, African Americans, peel away and join us. Bill Owens is doing his best to hasten that day. How can the rest of us help? By connecting with men like Bill Owens, and offering them organizational and financial support — such as Ronald Reagan once funneled to Solidarity.

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