Hillary Clinton visited a Black church in Charlotte Sunday, a city still wrestling with the shooting of Keith Lamont Scott at the hands of police. In her address Clinton said, “I am a grandmother and like every grandmother, I worry about the safety and security of my grandchildren. But my worries are not the same as black grandmothers, who have different and deeper fears about the world that their grandchildren face.” Hillary Clinton only had to say that Blacks are more likely to be shot in the streets by the police–whom our tax dollars fund–in order to differentiate herself from the other guy.
On Saturday Donald Trump visited a black church in Detroit. Trump’s visit made this much clear: the black church is a weak shell of itself. In an age where churches struggle for relevancy and politicians only stop by for votes, black pastors are willing to give Donald Trump (or Hillary Clinton) the floor for camera time and the illusion of access to circles of power. Rather than an institution that terrorizes the powerful with its message of truth and justice, the black church has been reduced to chasing the spotlight of “whosever will” come through the doors. Dr. King would roll in his grave.
Pastor Jamal Bryant apparently can’t keep it in his pants, evidenced by a new paternity test showing him to be the father of a new child out of wedlock. But that’s really not the issue here. The reality is that Bryant’s platform for activism, television appearances and even political efforts stem from his position as a pastor. Unfortunately, powerful black institutions outside of the church are scarce to non-existent; because the church provides a realistic shot at prominence in the black community, people like Jamal Bryant latch onto it and if they should happen to choose a lifestyle outside of the Christian bounds, their voices are lost. It’s time for the black church to step back and for blacks to embrace leadership from people who don’t hold up Bibles as an accessory to their activism.