Why We Don’t Go to (a Black) Church: Part Two

In yesterday’s post, I discussed my beliefs. In this post, I will discuss our actual experiences in going to church these past few years.

A few years ago, Jackson and I stumbled onto a church service at the junior high that’s two blocks away from our house. Here, a lot of churches meet in schools. The church was very integrated – I’d say about half Black, half everything else. The pastor was a young white man. There was a lot of singing, which Jackson loved. I went home and checked the church’s web site. Sadly, the church was far more conservative than I’m comfortable with. This isn’t a matter of practicing religion in a different way; this church did not match my beliefs.

About one year later, we went with a friend of ours to her church, which also met at a school. I had looked at the church’s web site before we attended, and, though there were a few areas of concern, it seemed acceptable. When we got to the service, almost the entire congregation was white. I remember a few Asian people. The service itself was fine. We went back. The church had bagels and coffee between services. Jackson wanted a bagel – the last bagel. I gave it to him. A man asked, “Is that your son?” I said, “Yes.” He said with a sneer, “I can see the family resemblance.”

That is the only time I have encountered hostility based on our status as a transracial family.

This past Easter, Jackson’s godmother emailed me, “I hope you’re taking my godson to church on Easter.” I guiltily looked up the Bethany Christian churches in our area. Jackson’s godparents belong to the Bethany Christian church, which I attended a few times with his godparents when we lived in NH. Aside from one thing, I’m OK with their basic tenets, so I thought we’d give it a try out here. The Bethany Christian church we went to here was very different from the one in NH. It was a lot more freeform. There weren’t readings. Most of the service was a sermon. The congregation was about half white, half people of color. We went several times. Each time the pastor gave a sermon, there were little digs at women. Once, he said something about women nagging men, for example. The last time we went, the sermon was based on Corinthians, and included the gem, “the man is the head of a woman”.

I read a good book several years ago, What Paul Really Said About Women. It discussed the original word that Paul used for “head.” If I remember correctly, it was an army term, meaning that men should protect women – march ahead of them. I remember sitting in Catholic church and listening to Father Joyce talk about the historical context of Paul’s writing. The pastor of this church gave such a chauvinistic sermon that I almost walked out. I no longer remember the exact point of the sermon, but I do remember him essentially saying that all women should be stay at home moms.

I was not going back to that. Jackson remembers the church, and really liked the Sunday school, but I’m not going to sit and listen to a man who has such backwards thoughts about the role of women in society.

We haven’t been back to church yet.

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