The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking Out on Religion--and Others Should Tooby Candace R.M. Gorham
Published on September 1st 2013
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Black women are the single most religious demographic in the United States, yet they are among the poorest, least educated, and least healthy groups in the nation. Drawing on the author’s own past experience as an evangelical minister and her present work as a secular counselor and researcher, <em>The Ebony Exodus Project</em> makes a direct connection between the church and the plight of black women.Â
The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey reported that 86% of black people identified as Christian. Black women make up the majority of most congregations in black churches.
The Ebony Exodus project is a collection of interviews with women who have left the church.Â In between the personal interviews, there are discussions of the effect of the black church culture on mental health and physical health.
Several of the women identified the church’s attitude towards homosexuality as a factor in leaving.Â Some of them were bisexual or lesbians themselves and others had family or friends who they didn’t want to see denigrated by the church.
The difficulties of leaving an institution that for many people defines the black experience in America is discussed.Â Who are you as a woman in the African-American community if you aren’t in church?
Anti-intellectualism rears it head again.Â Many women talked about studying their way out of the church (like I did.)Â They hate the fact that so many people don’t know anything about the religion that they purport to believe in.
What is the affect of the prosperity gospel teaching on the black community?Â What happens when you give the money you had to pay your bills to the church because you are supposed to believe that god will provide for you if you are supporting the church?Â Is this helping to keep black women in poverty?
One thing that seemed very different in the black churches described here and the white churches I knew was the idea that you can only speak positive things.Â If you say that things are going poorly for you then you are “claiming” that reality.Â It is sort of like, “Fake it ’til you make it.”Â Women in this book said that it leads to suppression of what is really going on in their lives. No one shares the real problems.Â No one admits to be stressed or depressed and may not get the help they need since they are too busy “claiming” their wonderful realities that they want to have. There is also a tendency to blame bad things on a person having demons attached to them.Â Nothing is the fault of circumstances that the person can improve on their own.
I’ve never understood why Christianity is so rampant in the African-American community.Â It doesn’t seem logical to me.Â It is a religion forced on their ancestors by their oppressors as a way of controlling them.Â It would seem like people would be in a rush to get rid of it.
Yes, I grew up in the kind of church that would say tithe first, then bills because God will provide. Many of the teachings of the church seem to benefit the church rather than the people in it. The prosperity gospel is something that many want to hold onto though and believing that we will have greater rewards in heaven is a dicey thought too. It’s a comfort for some people to have that hope that at least when they die things will be better. Sounds like an interesting book.
If life and God were fair the prosperity gospel should work. It is a nice theory. Do what God wants and you will be rewarded. Too bad it doesn’t work out that way.
My parents were big tithers at our church- I hate to say it, but I honestly feel like a lot of church money does get wasted (and this as someone who is still a Christian). We used to go to this big church in MT where there were many nonessential services offered that were nice, but really didn’t benefit the community. The money would be better off spent at a food bank, in my opinion.
I actually didn’t know the saying positive things only policy, but my father would’ve loved that. He used to tell me since I didn’t have cancer, like his buddy who still attended church despite it, I should always have to attend church even when I wasn’t able to stand for very long. He was a real gem of a “Christian”.
I used to get “We all have to do things we don’t want to do” when I didn’t want to go to church. How was that supposed to make me want to go?