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"In The Church"
Does the belief that "goodness" is ensured by only going to church , continue to leave the black community stuck in a state of decay
By: Waleed Shareef 03/09/2016
Two weeks ago Tanisha's ex-husband broke into her house and stole 75 dollars out of a purse she had sitting on her counter top. It took everything within her to cool the seething embers that burned in her spirit that created a severe urge to call the police on him and cast him behind bars, which she somewhat felt like he deserved. A few weeks after this occurrence, Tanisha's ex sends her a text message to let her know that he is back “in the church” and that he will not steal from her anymore. What is missing from his proclamation is a promise to begin paying the child support for his three girls, or to apologize for stealing from her in the first place.

Although this situation is hypothetical, it is similar to many true events that I have personally heard of in our community. It seems that the act of “being in the church” is proof enough to many people that a person has achieved a state of goodness and that their slide into the dark side has been halted. What I find is that “being in the church” in the black community seems to rarely imply that this person has embraced the tenants of the Christian walk and are trying to live a life according to Christ’s example, but simply that by participating in the Sunday and Wednesday ritual of visiting the church building, they have imbued themselves with righteousness.  

I believe and will try to highlight in this article my theory that “being in the church” actually have created the opposite effect on the black community and in fact increases the crime and troubles that plagues inner-city America. “That is ridiculous,” I hear you saying. Well, give me a moment to explain why I believe this theory is sound.  

Imagine you give someone a book that you tell them will teach them everything about fixing a car. This person reads the book and becomes a wiz at repairing cars. Therefore, they pass the book onto their son, who also passes the book onto their daughter. Over time, the offspring of this original mechanic simply passes down the book and always ask the question,“are you carrying your book?” As long as the offspring answers “yes, I am carrying my book,” then they are viewed as a mechanic. The reality is, that the real question should be “are you reading and employing what you have learned in the book.” But, because actually using what is in the book becomes less important than simply having the book in hand, if there was a mechanics garage that employed these people to repair cars, it could become a very dangerous and life threatening proposition to ride in one of the auto’s they try to repair. Similarly, we have begun to give massive credit and credence to individuals for being “in the church” rather than are they living life as Christians. Therefore, it is easy to see in any church the same criminals, sexual deviants and overall dysfunction that you see in the general population.  

Where my theory really takes hold that “being in the church” hurts the black community is that unlike being outside of the church whereas one may be very aware that, like the person who never had the mechanic’s book, they have a lot of work to do on themselves, the person that have the mechanics book, or in this case is “in the church” feels that they do not have to work on their lives and make changes to their actions. So, as in the ex-husband in the original scenario, this person will not feel that they are a bad human for not paying their child support and not apologizing for their theft because they are “in the church”. Going to church alone, in too many people’s minds, ensures their goodness is intact. Why actually work to correct their lives and improve themselves when with one trip to church, they are once again “good”?

East St. Louis has one of the highest murder rates and crime for 2016 and according to, there are 115 churches in that city; although, churchfinder lists approximately 74 in Irvine California, which is considered one of the safest cities in America. I would wager that many of the violent cities in America are overflowing with churches. If being “in the church” made a person better, then the city with the most churches would have to be the safest, correct? That does not seem to be the case. 

IRA Grove Free Will Baptist Church in East St. Louis.  Robbed by four armed gunman in 2013
For too many people, being “in the church” is the end and not the beginning in regards to how they conduct themselves in society. If my theory is correct, this makes the black communities of America less safe due to the belief that being “in the church” corrects personality issues that should be corrected by striving to become a better human being, whether “in the church” or not. Therefore, our communities becomes a veneer of holiness as business suit and dress wearing people crowd churches and leave feeling that because they are “in the church”, their work is done. Consequently, far too many people fail to live according to the religious principles they profess to believe because the extra effort required to do that becomes the extra credit rather than the main assignment. Finally, nothing will improve until communities are filled with more people actively working to transform themselves and their communities into moral and peaceful places, rather than neighborhoods filled with people whose bodies are “in the church” while their minds continue to wallow in sin.  
The checklist that far too many 
"church folks" have