Talking about religion with people from so many different backgrounds can be a difficult thing. Some people may have a very strict religious belief system, while others may not believe in anything religious at all, and some may fall in between. Our conversation with Father Joseph Brown was very enlightening, well it wasn’t so much a conversation as it was him giving us a history lesson— which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Father Brown, an ordained Roman Catholic Priest and a scholar on African American Religion, told us how the “Black Church” came to be. Black people did not have their own churches at one point in time, so they branched off and created their own that allowed them to practice the Christian faith in a manner which they felt comfortable. This is where we get the African Methodist Church from, the practice of Voodoo, and the separation of conferences. Black people also used their church and church family as a tool for liberation; whether it was to raise money for a family going through a hard time, or to send funds for a freedom trip. I took much interest in this part of Father Brown’s lecture because of the sense of community there was with church people.
I am Seventh-Day Adventist. I was born into the faith and both of my parents are Adventist as well. When I was younger, my Granny (who was not born into Adventism, she converted when my father was in his pre-teen years) would tell us stories about how the people in her church, and the surrounding churches, all took care of each other. My Granny is from Brownsville, Tennessee, and she grew up in the Baptist Church and although she is very strong in the Adventist faith, she always seems to bring up the fact that when she was younger (and attending a Baptist Church) people did everything together and looked out for each other. She would explain that although the next Baptist Church was maybe 50 miles away (I don’t remember if she said 50 miles, I just know she said it was far lol) her home church and the next church would come together and fellowship over barbeques, host church functions together, or like the example Father Brown used, to raise money for the opposite church if it was going through a hard time.
I have attended many Adventist Churches, and I don’t ever remember and church community relations as strong as what my Granny had. When I was younger the Adventist Church did seem to fellowship more and were a lot more involved with the youth, but unless there was a basketball game or a Pathfinder Drill Team match, we did not fellowship with people from other Adventist churches. I don’t know what makes the Adventist Church so different from other Christian based churches when it comes to community relations, but it is something that I would like to look into.
“Black people didn’t come to this country as Christian… Those who died on the journey over here didn’t die praying to Jesus.” Danny said this after we finished talking with Father Brown. This was probably my favorite part of class that day. I am Christian. There is no doubt in my mind that God exists as well as Heaven and Hell, but this is something that I have thought about too. “Jesus” and “God” didn’t necessarily exist for our ancestors, it wasn’t until they were taught the Christian faith (and not very well) that these terms came into existence for them. I use the word terms because that is exactly what they are. They’re just words for SOMETHING. I’m not as deep into the Adventist faith as I would like to be, or even the Christian faith for that matter. I find myself to be more spiritual than anything. Yes I believe that the Seventh day is the Sabbath and that I shouldn’t eat pork because it is unclean, but I don’t believe that only Adventists are going to make it to heaven, or that people who love the swine won’t. I use the word God and Jesus and Heaven because that is what I was taught. I don’t know much about other belief systems or religions, but what if they just use another word because that’s what they are taught as well. This may be so far-fetched, but I do believe that some people who worship under other religions may very well be worshiping to the same God that I worship to. Yeah, you could argue that these people worship sun gods or statues, and though I don’t believe in that that is right these people were taught to do this, they may not have ever come in contact with the Christian faith.
When Danny said was absolutely right. The people who were forcefully brought to this country had no inkling as to who God was/is, but I bet they were praying to someone. I don’t believe that God would cast everyone who doesn’t believe in the Christian faith to Hell. I can’t believe that because I know so many good people who are not of the Christian faith.