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Part 1: Wake Up! It’s Sunday Morning and it’s Time for Church! Amen!

By Okodee Mmowere ~

The Tower, a tarot card that strikes fear into Tarot card readers and their clients, the very sight of this card invokes fear, anxiety and terror. It is the beginning of the reaping, the end has come all hell has broken loose, you have nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and the world that you have built is crumbing, struck down by the hand of god, in this case a lightning bolt. We meet two people in this picture, a couple, both of whom are diving headfirst into what appears to be a sudden and possibly untimely death.

The Tower is the source of all human fear; it is everything about sudden and violent change or events including, but not limited to, sudden upheavals, revolts, events such as divorce, expulsion, suspension, job termination, possibly a change of location, even having a change of world-view. The Tower is not only a change in the physical, but also the mental. It can symbolize having your world view changed suddenly, through college, work, poverty, childhood, adulthood, the teen years, death, sickness, or even a sudden realization about your social, political, or even religious beliefs.

A Photo of a Black Person Looking at Photos of...

(Photo credit: Arty Smokes (deaf mute))
In the United States, be you young, middle aged or in your senior years , being a black man in the United States has always come with a large amount of baggage ranging from , but not limited to, racial profiling, a widely overblown, tainted , and over-hyped media image, and religion. For over a century, black men, women, children and elders adopted a laundry list of religious beliefs and organizations following the civil war and reconstruction including, but not limited to, Catholicism, Mormonism, Islam, and Christianity. This is not to say that black men and women didn't adopt Atheism, or any of the belief systems that would fall under the left hand path such as Satanism, Voodoo, Luciferianism, Wicca, and Santeria, however, I can safely say that the number of black men and women who will openly admit to practicing any of these belief systems is In the extreme minority when compared to their white counterparts in the United States or even Europe.

It is extremely difficult for me to write this, as I will cover a large amount of subjects that will help explain race and religion. Many of you who have always wanted to know about the black church and its large role within the black community over last century alone. Well, I'll start with myself; I am a twenty-six year old man, born in Bamberg, Germany, the middle child and second son of a mom and dad who have been married for almost thirty years. I wouldn't say that I was raised in the church when compared to my parents, grandparents or even great grandparents for that matter, however, when you grow up in a black family, you are more than likely surrounded by family members that are heavily entrenched the church and you have probably gone to church a few times with grandma and grandpa. There are multiple reasons why the Christian church and the bible were adopted by black families. One was a result of slavery, following the civil war and in the midst of reconstruction; many blacks had the religion of their slave master beaten into them, not just physically but also emotionally and mentally. Another reason that I feel should be mentioned is survival. Throughout the 19th century and twentieth century, black families often escaped the extreme and often deadly violence of Jim Crow laws in the U.S through churches, but even then, churches were not off limits the vile and inhuman terror tactics of murder, torture, bombings, intimidation, and cross burnings used by groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, who often hid behind the same Christian values, bible and cross that that they used and burned to further their often twisted and extremist ideology . Living in Oklahoma, one of many states in the Bible belt, I know this all too well. In 1921, the Greenwood district, which was an area full of thriving large businesses, was completely destroyed during what is described as a massacre by survivors. The events in Greenwood were dubbed a “race riot”, but the survivors, many of whom have passed on, say that it was a mass murder. The events in Greenwood had all the signs of the murder and genocide that is usually fueled by hatred of an entire group of people who have done nothing to warrant this animosity, hatred and vitriol outside of simply being born and existing in a country that they had no choice in being brought to centuries earlier by the people who enslaved them.

The black church has always been a major stable within the black community due to the fact that a church sometimes became a means to go to school for some, for others it meant a hot meal, it meant clothing over your back, and it also was a means to meet with family, friends and even a future spouse, so, to an extent, the church did have a hand in forming future relationships and future generations. Over the last four decades, desegregation and the civil rights movement had a massive impact on those who were involved, including the black church, which like many of the people involved, bore the brunt of the wrath of white supremacist groups, state and local governments, police, and even sometimes other pastors and churches who didn't like the idea of men such as Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King Jr. standing as men and not backing down even in the face of such unimaginable violence and hatred. Unfortunately, many of these men involved would die and with them, would go the bravery and fighting spirit that is not found in many men and women in America or around the world for that matter in this day and age.

The black church has always been a major stable within the black community due to the fact that a church sometimes became a means to go to school for some, for others it meant a hot meal, it meant clothing over your back, and it also was a means to meet with family, friends and even a future spouse, so, to an extent, the church did have a hand in forming future relationships and future generations. When all was said and done, black communities to an extent did somewhat enjoy some freedoms in this country, such as being able to work and go to some desegregated grade schools and colleges in some cities and states. However, continuing rampant discrimination in the work field, schools, police brutality, drugs, housing projects, and soon gangs, disease, single mother households, and poverty started to take a brutal toll upon the black community. In the late 1960s black communities across the United States started to become prisons and warzones for the residents who were already struggling to survive and make ends meet and even go to school. A new generation of young black males across the U.S began to form gangs for the purpose of crime and over a four decade period became the new Ku Klux Klan, terrorizing the very elders who fought for them tirelessly for jobs, schools, and basic human rights.

Many of these gangs in large cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York have all claimed that they were protecting their neighborhood, but most already know by now that these gangs were looking for money, power, and their twisted idea of respect. Throughout the 1980s and even now graduation rates for blacks started to slump, dropout rates went through the roof, teen pregnancy took its toll on the women and children who were left in an often cold, uncaring world where the stakes were now higher than before. Gangs, rape, drugs, prostitution, mass incarceration, and homicide, often through the quick pull of a trigger became part of life in black neighborhoods and housing projects. Often, the people caught in the deadly crossfire were unarmed men, women, children, and defenseless families who did nothing to incur the wrath of these ruthless animals. The worst part of this often horrible aspect of life was that the people who were behind this behind mass genocide of their own people often tried to justify their actions by simply doing something they call “charging it to the game”. “It” being wholesale mass murder, robbery, rape, drug dealing and any crime that gang members would commit to bolster their often massive egos and status within these organizations of crime. Some of these gangs actually had the nerve to try and adopt laws and even religion into their twisted form of existence, often trying to use religion as a means to cover up their criminal activity.

In midst of all of this bloody violence, there was always one element that remained in black neighborhoods, and that was the church. Churches they were large in stature, numbers, members and families alike. Sadly, churches were not even safe In the midst of this nightmarish chaos; often times gang members would attend funerals to mourn a member that had been killed, and at times they weren't welcome with open arms and for good reason, rivals would often times open fire at a funeral or even a burial site. Nothing was sacred, and anyone that lived in these neighborhoods or projects was now well aware that a new terror was upon them, and unfortunately, it came in the form of crime, political, corruption and police brutality which would become an unfortunate part of life for many black communities across the United States, and for many, it would tests their understanding of the world this country , the church and even their own purpose in this life and why there is more so much chaos under the cross.