Thank you God: a way through the wilderness of double standards, misinformation, and fear to the promised land of welcome and radical inclusivity

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Reginald H. Turner (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
H. Svi Shapiro

Abstract: The "Black" Church organize, sort, and select members of their congregation based on the leadership's understanding of spirituality, morality, and traditional socialization of religious practices within faith communities. The "Black" Church doctrine: homosexuality is immoral, creates a crisis for lesbian and gay Christians and many other members with multiple gender identities. I use the phrase "the black church" as a phrase to encapsulate seven historically black church denominations in the United States: the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church; the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church; the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church; the National Baptist Convention, USA., Incorporated (NBC); the National Baptist Convention of America, Unincorporated (NBCA); the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC); and the Church of God in Christ (COGIC). Using critical ethnography, as a minister of music and a long standing member of several black churches, I investigate, why the black church, an institution of liberation for the black community especially during the Civil Rights movement, continue to engage in oppressive practices with regard to members of the black gay and lesbian community. I provide a historical overview and critical analysis as a part of this inquiry. Black church leadership who once refused to accept white church leaders' use of the Bible to justify oppressing them during the periods of slavery and segregation, presently utilize the Bible in a similar fashion to justify oppressing lesbians and gays. Historically and traditionally membership in the "black" church was often due to the parents and/or grandparents membership. Attending church was an expected role within the black community. It was a way to socialize with friends, engage in political activity and often times conduct business. This was especially true when it came to the different denominations. Often times I would hear members stating, "You can't join in it, you got to be born in it." For African American lesbians and gays being born into families with strong religious church affiliations, as a rite of passage must endure pain while their humanity, sexuality, and love relationships are denigrated. As a counter-narrative to these negative teachings, I offer new approaches to understanding scripture and homosexuality through black liberation theology.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Church, Gay, Homosexuality, Lesbian, Masculinity, Sexuality
Homosexuality $x Religious aspects $x Christianity.
African Americans $x Religion.
African American gays.
African American churches.
Black theology.
Liberation theology.
Gay rights $z United States.

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