Black Preachers

Reverend Markel Hutchins: Linking Activism and Ministry

Markel Hutchins

(Photo Credit: WSB TV)

A champion for racial, social and economic justice and product of Morehouse College, Reverend Markel Hutchins serves as a shining progressive example of how postmodern Black preachers should be passionately active in their communities.  Hutchins has not been derelict in his duty to engage in civil and human rights efforts, efforts like those Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X championed. Even when he was in high school, one could see a burgeoning fighter for justice in the making: He led a march against the proliferation of drugs in the neighborhood surrounding his school.  Mr. Hutchins went on to become an ordained Baptist minister, leading Markel Hutchins Ministries.  Although there are laws prohibiting clergymen from being politically engaged in the confines of places of worship, this does not mean they cannot be involved in issues pertaining to social and economic policy affecting their communities, especially outside of their places of worship.  Hutchins certainly understands this.

Reverend Hutchins has an acute awareness of the power and significance of Black preachers’ serious involvement in political, social and economic issues during the Civil Rights Movement.  Black preachers during that period understood how to minister to the comprehensive needs of their congregants.  Yes, it’s one thing to feed one’s members spiritual food; another to feed their social, economic, professional and personal development.  Mr. Hutchins has been highly attentive to the complete needs of those he leads.  By doing this, he helps to further the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Although his leadership and ministry emerged in Atlanta, Georgia, a pivotal site during the Civil Rights Movement, his visionary leadership calls him to fight for justice throughout America.

When Black preachers invest in the communities in which they are situated, those communities become better places to live, work and play.  Unfortunately, too many Black preachers are too concerned about their personal and church’s financial prosperity to involve themselves in essential community development. Numerous pusillanimous Black preachers hide behind their collars and robes instead of tackling challenging and critical issues in their communities, including homelessness, police brutality, unfair labor practices, criminal justice system abuses, and racism, as Reverend Hutchins has done and continues to do.

Ministries not advocating for their communities are purposeless.

Markel Hutchins Ministries has purpose, vision and results.

While we increasingly see, hear and read accounts of preachers involved in corruption, and it’s easy not to support any preacher—which is a product of a burgeoning nihilistic impulse in postmodernism—it’s important to pay tribute to those preachers who are making a remarkable difference in the lives of people and their communities.  This is why we have to give Reverend Markel Hutchins his flowers while he’s living.  Although you may not always agree with his methods and viewpoints, it’s clear this man loves his country deeply enough to hold it accountable to fulfilling its nonpareil ideals—expressed most vividly and eloquently in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.  We should demand an America as good as it’s promised, and Hutchins is tireless warrior working to see those utopian founding ideals materialize.

When an individual thinks critically and comprehensively about the work Reverend Markel Hutchins has done and is doing, it becomes transparent why former Atlanta Mayor, Shirley Franklin, the first female mayor of Atlanta and first Black woman of a prominent Southern city, posits that he “will soon be celebrated as one of our nation’s most visible and viable public servants.”

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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The Black Church and the Incessant Focus on Homosexuality

Same-Sex Marriage

From the beginning of this piece, I want to make it clear that I’m a strong supporter of traditional marriage and support marriage as it has been traditionally defined: marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman.  Many Black churches, however, are acting like there aren’t any other sins mentioned in the bible save homosexuality.  Homosexuality is a sin.  My problem with many Black preachers, however, is with their choice to devote too much of their time to preaching and discussing homosexuality.  When they do this, they make it appear that they think one of the greatest problems in the Black Church and the Black community is homosexuality.  I want this article to disabuse many Black preachers of their belief that homosexuality is one of the greatest problems in the Black Church and Black community.

With the Black unemployment rate at 13.2%, Black preachers must begin to focus their sermons, teachings, and discussions on economic uplift.  Concentrating on homosexuality isn’t going to get your congregations the jobs they need.  Many of those in the Black community that Black preachers are attempting to reach don’t see their primary problem to be homosexuality; they see the fact they’re unemployed as far more important than their sexual orientation and the sexual orientation of others.  Black preachers cannot honestly say they’re unaware of the economic problems of their congregants and community.  They see their unpleasant economic realities in the offering plates.

Why, then, do many Black preachers continue to concentrate on homosexuality when economic problems are far more pressing?  They know many of the members of their congregations are going to be pleased with harsh condemnations of homosexuals, considering it appeals to many of their members’ homophobic mindsets.  A typical response to a Black preacher speaking on the issue of homosexuality is as follows: “Girl, Pastor really preached today.  Did you hear him talk about them “faggots” and “sissies”? Child, them gay folks just nasty and going to Hell!”  While it’s true that if homosexuals do not repent of their sins they will inevitably go to Hell, language used to discuss homosexuals must still reflect true Christian love (agape).  Please explain how calling people disparaging names like “faggot” and “sissy” evinces agape.  It doesn’t!  Many Black preachers gain high acclaim (and even fame) for how aggressively they preach against homosexuality, and, as reward to them, they have large church memberships and lucrative financial dividends that end up in the offering plates.  In a number of Black churches, preaching about homosexuality simply sells—just as sex sells in postmodern American popular culture.

When millions of Black babies are aborted each year, why won’t more Black preachers discuss this vexing phenomenon?  The main reason they don’t is they are unwilling to run the risk of upsetting the numerous women who have had abortions who sit in their congregations.

Some of the most prevalent and important sins in the Black Church today are envy, division, unforgiveness, gossiping, and lying.  It seems, however, that many Black preachers don’t want to invest critical time to these issues because they see those sins to be more complicated and less attractive.  The aforementioned sins are the sins that significantly impair the witness of Christians.  When those who are unsaved see Christians who are struggling with envy, division, unforgiveness, gossiping, and/or lying, unsaved people don’t desire to hear what they have to say.

I’ve never seen so much envy in the Black Church as it is today.  Envy is a more damaging sin confronting the Black Church than is homosexuality.  When Black preachers start to addressing envy more, especially the envy in their churches, I will begin to believe they’re truly serious about getting people to live lives not dominated by sin.

I do contend that it’s important for the Black Church to offer a powerful response to the increasingly successful promotion of same-sex marriage (or marriage equality), but Black preachers shouldn’t let this become their main focus.  Most of these same Black preachers voted for President Obama, who publicly articulated his support for gay marriage.  On Sundays, many Black preachers are zealously condemning homosexuality, but are still swooning over a President diametrically opposed to their support of traditional marriage. 

It’s time for many Black preachers to return to an intellectual, Socratic, imaginative, forward-thinking and prophetic sermonic tradition that produced prodigious Black preachers like Reverend C.L. Franklin, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison                

Facebook and the Black Church

In the Black Church, especially in the Church of God in Christ (C.O.G.I.C.), Black Church leaders have to gain a more sophisticated understanding of Facebook. You cannot lead your congregations based on assumptions or limited knowledge about phenomena. Black Church leaders in general have demonstrated little to no real understanding about how Facebook works, what it really is, and the great opportunities and enjoyment that it offers its users. I want everyone to know that I am a strong supporter of Black Church leaders. I am a product of the Black Church and the Black Church has been and is instrumental in helping me to be the person I am today. My pastor is a Black Church leader. I want people to know, therefore, that this article is not in any way a hateful piece directed at the Black Church and Black Church leaders. What this article does is offer a critique of some Black Church leaders that might spur important discourses, which ultimately can ameliorate the state of the Black Church and Black Church leaders on the issues discussed in this piece.

While I don’t think people should put all of their personal information and business on Facebook and other related sites, I do think Facebook can be used as a positive and creative vehicle for expressing how one feels and it allows one to be able to keep his or her personal salvation that has been granted by God. It is better for people to blow off some steam by saying something through a Facebook status than to go out and blow off steam in ways that can be destructive, resulting in some harmful sins. When you spend too much time on Facebook, this is when you might need to be concerned about how it is affecting your personal relationship with God.

However, for those Black Church leaders who say that it is a sin to be on Facebook, you are completely wrong. For those Black Church leaders who say that Facebook is demonic, you are completely wrong. For those Black Church leaders who say that iPods and iPhones are demonic, you are completely wrong too. What Black Church leaders must understand is it is not these things that make people do terrible or sinful things, it is the people who do terrible or sinful things. Don’t blame these things on the sins people commit.

You cannot take one or more Facebook statuses of a person and try to demonize him or her for what he or she says. Therefore, when you go and report what someone has said on his or her statuses to the pastor of the church, you need to provide him or her with more evidence that suggests that this person is really in need of serious prayer. You should not be reporting stuff to your pastor just to attempt to point out some flaws about a person. Would you like your flaws to be reported to your pastor each time your flaws are exposed?

I have noticed that in the Black Church issues like Hip-Hop music and culture, contemporary fashion, attending movie theaters, women wearing pants, homosexuality, masturbation, pornography, and other issues are addressed with little depth, often reduced to a single scripture. We must be more sophisticated than this Black Church leaders!

For those Black Church leaders who don’t know, people can play games on Facebook like Family Feud, Café World, Baking Life, Farmville, and etc. What’s so harmful about that? What so sinful about that? If people are chatting on Facebook, they are chatting with people who they know in some way, especially if they are only accepting people as friends who they really know. What’s so sinful about that?  Why is more scrutiny placed on Facebook’s chatting function than the basic telephone? If it is so sinful to chat on Facebook, then it should be just as sinful to chat on the telephone, right?

I strongly encourage Black Church leaders to get more knowledge about Facebook before making any poor judgments about it. Just because Facebook has so many users, many of those users are Black Church members, should not automatically qualify it as something evil. I know after writing this article many people are going to be angry with me, and some Black Church leaders are going to say, “That boy needs serious prayer and he has some demons in him.” My response is, “You are supposed to be praying for me anyway.” Lol!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison