What is the Black Church’s Role in Advancing African American Wealth?

Professor Eddie Glaude Jr. wrote a piece a few years ago, asserting “the Black Church, as we’ve known it or imagined it, is dead.”

 

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Some claim that the black church isn’t doing enough to assist with the economic, social, and political progress of the black community.

The Michigan Chronicle recently took a look at research reporting that well over $420 billion had been donated to the black church as of 2013—a figure which averages out to at least $12 billion–$13 billion per year.

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Where Did The Money Go?

 

The question then turned into the whereabouts of the money donated and whether it had been spent to help progress the economic, social, and political stances of African Americans?

Leadership Network releases reports every year on the current trends in megachurches and other data on churches in general. They find that the largest 7% of churches contain nearly 50% of all churchgoers. Furthermore, they find that nearly 100% of church revenue comes in the form of donations and nearly 60% of said church revenue goes to staffing-related costs. Based on this data, it could be argued that the monies donated to churches in general, which includes the black church, are being used mainly to compensate the individuals who are directing, performing, and managing the church organization, rather than being spent to feed the poor as Proverbs 22:9 says.

 

Should the Donations Be Re-directed Directly Into Black Communities?

 

Various bloggers and commentators have suggested that the $12 billion to $13 billion per year going to black church donations could have been reinvested to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars in black homes; send over 1 million black students to college, and feed literally every black homeless person for a number of years. This amount of reinvestment would also assist “Buying Black Expert” Maggie Anderson with her efforts to redirect black dollars into more productive measures in the black community; to assist with creating more black jobs.

 

Should Portions of the Donations Be Re-directed Directly to the Government?

 

In addition, based on the Leadership Network data along with similar data, it has been argued throughout the years that churches should no longer benefit from 501(c)3 tax exemption status, as taxing the church revenues would bring nearly $20 billion or more into the federal government every year.

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Absence During Political Progressions

 

Others, including sympathizers of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, also believe that the black church is not aiding “enough” in efforts for political and social progression. On the heels of major media cases of unarmed black men being killed by police, many in the BLM Movement believe that the black church’s presence hasn’t been displayed enough to help combat in the fight against police brutality. This is in comparison to the role of the black church during the civil rights movement, where its voice was heard loud and clear in the fight for progression, along with its temple used for networking and strategy sessions within the African American community.

All of these discussions and reports continue a debate revolving around the present-day impact of the black church and if the black church still truly matters in terms of the economic, social, and political advancement of African Americans?