African Americans for Humanism DC (AAH DC) Message Board › Dr. Bell's Sermon
|Ernest R. P.||
District Heights, MD
Ernest, I thought you might be interested in what I'm trying to do to spread the word about African American Humanism. I recently gave the sermon shown below to a group of Unitarian Universalists. If you think the sermon's worth repeating, you may send this sermon to other AAH members.
WHAT UNITARIANS UNIVERSALISTS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT AFRICAN AMERICAN HUMANISTS AND WHY IT SHOULD MATTER
Excerpted from a sermon by Dr. Christopher C. Bell Jr.
Given at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Riderwood Retirement Village, Silver Spring, Maryland
On February 17, 2011
Unitarian Universalists (UUs) should know that in April 2010, a group of African American Humanists (AAHs) held its first national conference in Washington, DC, and that this conference was a sign of moral courage and defiance to black Christians and a harbinger of efforts to come to end the “Jesus worshipping” culture with in the black community; a result that will directly affect all Protestant Christian worship protocol and prompt UUs to review their own ways of practicing their faith and presenting themselves to the world.
At this conference, the AAHs signaled their intent to:
a. promote solidarity among blacks in America that choose not to participate or adhere to a lifestyle influenced by religious dogma and irrationality;
b. provide mutual support and fellowship in promoting a humanistic outlook and philosophy that will assist in eliminating all types of human oppression and exploitation
c. stress the importance of and work to create a higher, stronger wall between American civil governments at all levels and religious dogmas and organized religion;
d. start religious literacy initiatives that would educate and make black people knowledgeable of how their history and present social status in is related to the historical development of the beliefs, teachings, and practices of the Christianity they inherited from white slaver masters. These AAHs believe that the dialogue that would evolve from religious literacy initiatives would result in the religious enlightenment of black Christian believers who will learn to worship only God the Creator and Sustainer of human life and stop their “Jesus worshipping” which in reality is “white male worshipping,” and to honor Jesus as a human being and Jewish prophet; the result would be, a cultural awakening that would lead to their psychological freedom from their subliminally acquired deleterious white superiority syndrome afflictions and their Holy Helplessness state of mind that forces them to keep reaching out for help from a white male savior idol.
Given the above raison d’être of AAHs and the fact that they are humanists, UUs should want to know more about the religious literacy initiative and how it might affect the humanism that now flourishes in UU congregations. UUs should understand that these AAHs believe their religious literacy initiatives will lead to changes in black worship practices that in turn will lead to changes in Protestant white worship practices that will in turn eventually lead to a quiet American secular revolution. And when the revolution comes, UUs will want to be a position to say, “We’re not surprised. We saw it coming and we helped.”
But before we can speak to the religious literacy initiative, UUs should understand several social as well as philosophical factors that motivate AAHs. AAHs, like most humanists, may properly be called by different names, such as: atheist, agnostic, freethinker, secularist, deist, mystics, non-theist, and of course Unitarian Universalist (UU). Like UUs, AAHs are composed of people with a wide range of different beliefs. Both AAHs and UUs would agree that humanism is a philosophy (not a religion) that is concerned with values, ideals and behaviors that are distinctly human as opposed to values, ideals and behavior that were set up by a superhuman power. AAHs and UUs would agree that one fundamental humanist belief is that it is possible for civilized people to create moral codes to live by, and that they do not need a supernatural arbiter.
UUs should know that most AAHs present at the conference do not seek to form a religious organization and do not belong to a religious congregation, but most would embrace the seven major philosophical principles (see footnote) embraced by UUs, if they had knowledge of these principles. However, very few AHHs have ever heard of Unitarian Universalism.
In addition to the major philosophical principles espoused by UUs most AAHs would concur with the following thinking:
a. that if man is to improve himself, his life or the character of the world in which he lives, he must do it by himself. He cannot count on God to look after him.
b. that the following moral and ethical principles should be major guides for human behavior:
_The Golden Rule (do as you would be done by)\
_Utilitarianism (the greatest good for the greatest number)
_ The use of the human conscious in considering what should be our “right” actions given our other moral, ethical, and democratic principles
c. that there should be a strict barrier between civil government and organized religion in order to ensure that all people (with diverse beliefs or no religious beliefs at all) may be better served;
d. that Christianity is a white man’s religion where- in the Christian Trinitarian dogma mandates “Jesus worship” which is essentially “white male worship” and such worship or belief is one of the foundational causes (along with poverty, ignorance, and white racism) in the black community of the self-hate, and the high rates of mental health problems, violence, drugs, crime, and the mantra of a community with a Holy Helplessness state of mind;
e. that the black community must be taught “religious literacy” in order to become spiritually enlightened and psychological freed from the negative psychological and emotional effects of its “Jesus worshipping” or “white male worshipping” folkways.
UUs should want to know more about the planned religious literacy initiative that may eventually lead, in two or three generations, to the American Secular Revolution, of which they may possibly play a part. But first UUs should understand the social and behavioral problems that AAH members attribute to the “Jesus worship” culture of the black community, and then UUs will understand the AAH’s belief and sense of the need for religious literacy initiatives.
Concerning AAHs and “Jesus worship”: AAHs say that the “Jesus Christ” worshipped by black people today is the same ancient, Roman-made, white male, idol god created, established, and championed by Roman Emperor Constantine and Roman Church bishops at the Nicene Council (CE 325) and all Roman citizens were required to worship this god or suffer death. Centuries later European white slave masters imposed this same white male idol god (Jesus Christ) on their black African slaves and did so for over 300 years; resulting in the white male God image of “Jesus Christ” being deeply ingrained in the psyche of black slaves (and black people) as well as most white people.
These AAHs insist that “Jesus worship” is equivalent to “white male worship" and is not only idolatrous, but it is detrimental to the mental and emotional health of black people. These AAH members and many black psychologists agree that the Jesus worshipping (white male worshipping) culture of the black community in conjunction with other American cultural symbols and representations of white supremacy, subliminally afflicts many black people with a deleterious white superiority syndrome (WSS) that leads to emotional and spiritual depression resulting in self-limiting beliefs and aberrant behavior such as; low academic achievement motivation among black adolescents, increased feelings of hate toward whites and other blacks, and increased stress and other health related problems in black males. Dr. Na’im Akbar, a noted black psychologist, in his book “The Chains and Images of Psychological Slavery,” has a more direct way to make this point. He says, “Christianity requires black men to bow down and worship the image of a white male as Lord and Savior, while requiring white men to bow down and worship their own likeness.”
These AAHs, some of whom are educators, argue that the white male worshipping folkways of the black community are mentally oppressive and emotionally emasculating to many young black men who after years of embedment in such folkways feel spiritually alienated, demeaned, devalued, and angry and they react in ways that lead to high rates of recalcitrance, self-abuse, crime, violence, and incarceration.
Concerning AAHs and Religious Literacy: By religious literacy, we mean to become knowledgeable and understanding of one’s own history and status as it relates to the historical development of the beliefs, teachings, and practices of Christianity. With regards to African Americans, this means:
a. Formulating and presenting informational bulletins, pamphlets, radio and TV discussions, blogs on the world wide web, and using other news media that target the black population and teach them about themselves, their history and their present day social status and how Christian dogma, practices, and beliefs psychologically affected their enslaved ancestors and continues to subliminally afflict them today with a deleterious white superiority syndrome. These AAH members insist that black Christians should worship only God the Creator and Sustainer of life and honor Jesus Christ as a human being and Jewish prophet in order to gain religious enlightenment and the psychological freedom that will allow black men to build a sense of authentic self-respect
b. Encouraging, cajoling, and debating whenever possible with black clergy members to inspire them to garner the moral courage to remove all iconic figures or renderings of human images from places of worship and teach black people that to worship anything other than the God of the Creation (which is beyond human imagination) is idolatry, and that they should regard Jesus Christ as a human being and Jewish prophet or they will forever remain in their Holy Helplessness state of mind. These AAH members believe that the Trinitarian dogma and its related teachings are unsustainable as truths to rational minds in this the 21st century when these teachings are faced with today’s logic, knowledge, and reasoning, forcefully and respectfully applied. Many AAH members are ready to press their arguments until they have ended the silence that now surrounds the white elephant of “Jesus worship” that inhabits the black community.
c. Mounting public advertising campaigns targeting black community uplift organizations and black university students and encouraging them to meet and work with and encourage the black clergy to stop teaching people to worship Jesus Christ and to lead them to worship only God of the Creation; which we presume is the God that Jesus worshipped. These AAH members believe that when their initiative gains leverage (begins a dialogue) inside the black community that it will be the beginning of a change in black community worship protocol and this will lead to a change in the worship protocol of mainstream white Christians communities and it will eventually blossom into the quiet American secular revolution .
Finally, UUs should know that although they and AHHs may share the same philosophical ideas regarding religion, they have different temperaments in their discussion of the same. There is the possibility that UUs may get blamed for some of the assertions made by AAHS, and UUs should be able to explain to a third party how UUs differ from AAHs so as not to be blamed for what AAHs might say or do.
UUs in general have a tolerant, circumspect, and polite demeanor when they are involved in religious discussions, but often, this is not the case with AAHs. Most of the AAHs I’ve met are assertive when discussing the perils of religion, especially Christianity and UUs should understand that this assertiveness appears to be rooted in several realities:
a. Their slave history is not forgotten or forgiven as they assess the present day symbols and features of America’s continuing racist society;
b. Christianity was a psychological tool of the slave-masters, and it still holds black people in an iron psychological grip of racial inferiority and in a state of docility, gullibility, and Holy Helplessness;
c. Black preachers haven’t garnered the moral courage to lead black people out from beneath the paragon of white male Trinitarian god-worship, even though most of them know that this paragon and paradigm is based on ancient myths and superstitions and is psychologically harmful to black people.
d. The subject of “Jesus worship” continues to be the white elephant in the black community, which everybody, including educated blacks, avoids discussing as they pretend that the Caucasian skin, the blondness of hair, and the European white male physical features and Nordic profile of the iconic representations of their Lord and Savior are not important or have no effect on them; a predicament that is at best a case of deep psychological denial.
Conclusion: So what should you UUs do, now that you know what you know about the AAHs? I recommend the following:
a. Continue to be good Unitarians Universalist and Good Samaritans
b. Know that every African American you see isn’t necessarily a Bible thumping, born-again Christian who has been bamboozled into a Holy Helplessness mind-set, nor is he a natural candidate to become a UU.
c. Know that some AAHs are “over there” working in their own way and in their own lane as they rush in the same direction as UUs; which is toward goals they hope will help to build a more secular, and a more just and compassionate America.
Footnote: The seven major moral principles espoused by UUs are:
(1) The inherent worth and dignity of every person; (2) Justice, equity and compassion in human relations; (3) Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritually grow in their congregations; (4) A free and responsible search for truth and meaning; (5) The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; (6) The goal of a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; (7) Respect for the interdependent web of all existence
About the author: Dr. Christopher C. Bell Jr. is a humanist and a Unitarian Universalist who fellowships with members of the Davies Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church in Camp Springs, Maryland. Much of the contents of this sermon were taken from his recently released book: The Black Clergy’s Misguided Worship Leadership (ISBN#9781 4251-7806-2) which is available at most on-line book retailers or by contacting www.trafford. Dr. Bell received his doctorate degree in education from Boston University Graduate School of Education. He is a retired educationist, a retired U.S. Army Major, and the facilitator of the ADORE (A dialogue on race and ethnicity) program at his church. Dr. Bell is a novelist, poet, lecturer, and essayist. More information about him is available on Facebook or at his website at www.drchrisbell.com.