Desmond Tutu wrote about missionaries critically. “They said, ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.” And that wasn’t only in Africa. The African American, Civil Rights history, was born in the Baptist Church, but much of our past physical and current mental enslavement was also born in the Baptist Church.
The Baptist Church is the same church that goes all over the world as missionaries to save “the savages.” The largest white-run Baptist organization in the US is the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Racist white slave owners founded the SBC in 1845. It came into existence due to General Missionary Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the USA for Foreign Missions Triennial Convention (now American Baptist Churches, USA) vote that stated that people who owned other people as property could not be missionaries.
Enslaved Black people were the fuel of the wealthy southern planter’s class engine, and they were not giving up money for god, because this wasn’t about god for them. They also weren’t giving up the church. Slavery and Jesus for them were about control, and the church was a great tool to control white and Black people.
Thus, rich racist white supremacists founded the largest protestant organization in the USA and second-largest Christian denomination in the world so they could continue to own Black human beings and keep their finger on the economic pulse of international society.
(Missionary work is about global economic investments, not god, you knew that right? Of course you did.)
After “The War of Southern Intransigence” (slavery), they still wanted to own those Black human beings. They wanted to own their minds and souls AND VOTES, so they had a hand in founding the National Baptist Convention, USA, (NBCUSA), especially for Black Baptists.
They didn’t work that hard for the 3/5 Compromise to just lose control of those votes, to freedom.
The NBCUSA is still the largest Black church in the US. It has approximately 7.5 million members.
Its offshoot, Church of God in Christ, has approximately 6.5 million.
The NBCUSA and the SBC have worked in collaboration for over 100 years to keep Black people in line.
Of course the NBCUSA will dispute this, but there is documented proof that they have collaborated with the SBC and the SBC had a heavy hand in shaping and founding the organization. One of the oldest Black Baptist College, American Baptist College tells the history of their collaboration in early 20th century to form the historic institution.
In the 1870s William Colley put the call out to found the NBCUSA. He was an ordained minister and appointed missionary to Liberia, Africa by the Foreign Mission Board of the SBC. He was born enslaved to an enslaved African mother and Scottish clergyman in rural Virginia. The SBC realized that they could get more buy in on policies in the US and in Africa if they had more Black faces to explain their positions. You know how nonprofits need Black faces to pass horrible policies in Black communities, well this was that kind of situation.
It is now not always the Baptist church or the NBCUSA directly. The control of the Black community (and in many ways the white community) is based on the principles inspired by the SBC and the NBCUSA.
Below the Mason Dixon, the Black church keeps you safe. Owing to the white nationalist policies and a defacto Jim Crow that is still silently enforced, low pay, voter suppression, high mortality rate, lack of access to transportation, frequent slashes to nonexistence medical care, and white violence that has long been an accepted part of the landscape, especially in rural Black life, the Black church provides much-needed relief.
The same philosophy that the SBC had in 1845 guides its mission today and the philosophy guides much of the Chrisitan South.
Their philosophy is to convert everyone to think the way they do. And they are active in oppressing and suppressing women, people of color, poor people, and LGBTQI people. The rules apply to everyone, but cisgender rich white men.
They use white nationalism to force their interpretation of the world down people’s throat. They send missionaries to other countries to propagate the cultural subjugation of the poor, Black, and disenfranchised.
And who profits from this conversion of independent individuals into pliant meek believers?
Wealthy white people.
The ideals of the Baptist Church, no doubt, inspired the Southern Strategy. In fact, the SBC seems to have been a framework for it. The Southern Strategy has effectively defunded higher education, defunded entitlement programs like medicare, defunded welfare for parents with children, militarized the police, and brought taxes for the wealthy to an all-time low.
It employs all the racist dog whistles, but instead of fire and brimstone, it uses the Second and Tenth Amendments.
It is not about racism, but Jesus Christ and morals, be obedient and patient.
It is not about racism, but about the Constitution, states rights, and the right to bear arms.
The SBC’s dedication to oppressing people with their warped interpretation of the word of Jesus Christ meant that the people that they owned were also indoctrinated to accept their roles. Their velvet idea was that iron oppression is simply a tool to help Black people find Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is white, then another white leader’s actions, even venial actions, are godly.
This is how people like Jim Clyburn can move mountains of oppressed people, and they ask for nothing but access to his fish fry in return.
The NBCUSA didn’t support the Civil Rights Movement. The Black Civil Rights Movement was started by the Progressive National Baptist Convention which was founded in 1961 by Dr. Martin Luther King. It emphasized civil rights and social justice.
Much of the Black church has its roots in slavery, and its heads often exist to serve at the pleasure of white supremacy.
We don’t have to throw away the church, but we must recognize that it has a role in both the Democratic and Republican parties in lowering the Black community’s expectation and relegating us to roles and positions that in the longterm disempower and weaken our communities.