By K.A. Brown
In the past several years, we have witnessed our economy collapse, our first African American president, the seemingly influential tea party, the debate of same sex marriage, and the continued debate over abortion. We’ve even seen our public schools being stripped of their funding, corporate America brain-washing our youth through so-called commercialized hip-hop on free-for-us frequency waves, unarmed African American young males being murdered, and prayer being taken out of our society. It seems that there are a lot of decisions being made that are affecting us all; however, I believe there is one major player that is missing, which leads me to ask the question: “Church, where are you?”
Has this whole debate over the separation of church and state given the courts and people who don’t believe in God the ability to strip this country of the very principles on which it was built? The phrase “separation of church and state” does not even appear in the original United States Constitution. In fact, it was mentioned in a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 in which he says, “… I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” The first amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This suggests to me that there is not really any guarantee of separation of church and state. It’s an attempt of the judicial system to change and enforce policy based off the political stance and interpretation of a letter written by one individual who in fact was not one of the original members who signed the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787 in Philadelphia, PA. Our judicial system has made amendments to our laws, which means they have made changes. The Constitution of the United States says WE The People, not we the courts. We the people have power to change what has been broken. Have we as God’s people truly done our due diligence in interpreting the law, or have we let others study and dictate the law to us? I believe this leaves the door open for this question: “Church, where are you?”
Is this the reason the government, attorneys, people, and the courts have found ways to suppress the church? I believe that because they don’t have real ground when it comes to separation of Church and State, they have found other ways to keep our most influential institutions and leaders from being one united voice. In 2012, when trying to start my ministry, everyone told me that I needed to apply for a 501(c)3 through the IRS. The thought of being tax exempt sounded really good, but once I started doing my research, I found that it put limitations on things that I feel can make a big difference in how effective I can be in my community. It’s like sprinkling a little water on a fire when you’re grilling. Sooner or later, after constantly sprinkling water, the fire will become contained. It will cool down and eventually burn out. This leads me to wonder if this has happened to our churches and leaders. Have we been sprinkled into accepting a 501(c)3 status? Have we become too dependent on the government for money to fund our programs and churches, or do we really need the tax-exempt status to remain fully functional? Are our leaders afraid to really speak out because of the consequences it could have on the church and the church’s finances? If not, this leaves the door open for this question: “Church, where are you?”
It seems like the ideas of a few are influencing policy and change. I wonder what would happen if the people with the most influence were to speak out with one voice and unite as was done during slavery, the civil rights movement and the election of President Barack Obama. Have we lost our fight or have we fought so much for our freedom that we have become complacent inside the comfort of our brick and mortar churches?
We have a right to influence our culture both politically and socially. Must the people – the poor, the disenfranchised, our youth, this country, and the world – continue to suffer at the expense of our silence? We must remember that the church is in us, not in the place where we physically meet. Will we continue to depend on somebody to do for us what we can do for ourselves? When will we wake up? Who will stand? CHURCH, WHERE ARE YOU?
K.A. Brown is a graduate student. He was born in Mississippi and now resides in Dallas, TX. His mission is to restore community and to be a voice for the voiceless. He loves to engage in issues of social justice and serve those in need. K.A. Brown can be found on Twitter @kevinbrown1911 and on instagram @kevinbrown1911.