Paula White is a thin, white, barbie-like preacher who became popular by learning to preach like and appeal to black churchgoers. She’s been married three times (full disclosure: I’m divorced myself). She divorced her first husband soon after becoming a Christian. Along with her second husband, she started what grew to be a megachurch, largely attended by black folks. Paula’s lifestyle grew to include million dollar condos, private jets and so much swag that even Congress felt the need to investigate her. Paula now pastors another majority black megachurch and still makes her living from black dollars. She also became the latest high profile endorser of Donald Trump. So why are those negroes in her church still?
Over the past week, Kim Davis again surfaced in the news. A federal judge ordered the governor of Kentucky to decide whether marriage licenses altered by Davis are valid, given that Davis changed them by dropping her name from the forms. Davis, as you know, first galvanized the nation because she refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, as the law dictates that she must. Citing her Christian beliefs, she refused to do so and was jailed and ultimately released. Such conviction. Such bravery. Such bullshit.
I have a dear loved one who is very deep into their faith and unfortunately, wrestling with challenges in the area of mental illness. Certainly mental illness is complex and still taboo, particularly for black folks. It’s not something we discuss and more importantly, this means we often don’t seek help. In that the black experience is, historically speaking, deeply religious, it’s fair to ask whether or not religious devotion helps or enhances the risk of mental illness.