Q: This is something that I have always wondered, “Why do so many black folks attend church and are the holiest of the holy for the Sunday – but hours after the sermon, you’d never know they were Christian?”
Of course, I didn’t phrase this as eloquently as I wanted. This topic has always been on my mind. Hearing a neighbor when I was a kid exclaim, “Hallelujah! Thank ya Jesus!” was nothin’ unusual.
A: Today I’ll tackle this question on this glorious Sunday. It’s quite fitting seeing how religiousness has been on my brain. Not because I went to church and heard the good word but because I am the one black dude out of a handful, that isn’t up in the church or sittin’ on the stoop sippin’ on some “yak” (for the non-black folks this is cognac”. “Lord knows” I ain’t stepped foot in a church since George H.W. Bush left office.
Now, let me hop up to the pulpit and say a few words. Church, to black folks, is like golf. In golf, you play the course, try to do your best, and have the least amount of strokes (screw ups) as possible, and if you REALLY mess up one of your strokes, you’ll get a mulligan and get to try it all over again. You see – the fuck ups in life are the holes. Church is the mulligan.
Black folks are taught at a young age that you go to church and you behave or your momma is gonna get that belt out cause, “she don’t play!” She won’t cuss you out until she steps off the holy premises – but you WILL get a few choice words if you act up. Sunday is the day of atonement. Black Church “Yom Kippur” if you will. Depending on your church, you’ll know if you have a good service if you caught the holy ghost, did holy calisthenics and spoke gibberish.
Sweet Jesus, what about all those exclamations of holy gratitude? Well, I think that’s just a matter of habit. Shoutin’, “Thank ya Jesus”, rebuking the devil, saying hallelujah, glory be to God, amen (pronounced A-MAN) seems to be part of the routine if you frequent certain churches. It’s said without much thought. It’s kinda like when people are havin’ sex and someone screams, “Oh God!” Are they bein’ reverent? Well For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, I hope not – especially if they’re not married!
Black folks who go to church will let you know that they do too! It’s like they’re trying to convince (remind) themselves that they need to stay in the good graces. Quoting and posting scripture on Facebook, singing gospel, and getting into their car listening to the FM radio station that plays 4 hours of religious programming on Sundays (and hip hop and baby makin’ music all other times). However, once they get home and their Sunday clothes come off, it’s back to business as usual (after Sunday dinner of course).
If they’re about to get into fisticuffs, you’ll sometimes hear a preemptive prayer, such as “Lord, if you don’t get this mutha fucka out of my face before I kill him!”. But really, they’re not praying and hoping to not hurt someone. They’re ready to beat the shit out of someone and ask for forgiveness later.
Forgiveness for beating someone down? Shouting, “Oh God” before, during and after sex? You’re keeping God in your life because you posted about “the Glory of God” and the many gifts that have been bestowed onto you in your Facebook or Twitter status?
If your answer is a resounding, “Yes!”… then carry on… I’ll see you at Bible Study and Choir Practice and I BETTER see you at the club next Saturday, “yak” in hand. We got some hoes to holla at!