Honestly, if I were an outsider looking in, I’d think we were crazy.

My general religious/spiritual beliefs nonwithstanding (save it for another day), John Fountain took the words out of my head with his recent Washington Post article. Granted, I don’t quite get the correlation between the failings of the church and the disconnect with black men specifically, but maybe you have to be one to understand. I see it as a failing of the Protestant Christian church as a whole.

The church, or at least the face that you see/hear/know about on a public level, is about money more than anything else. I truly cannot tell you the last time I heard about a church other than my own doing something for someone out in the community, but I can tell you how many times today I’ve heard mentioned the name of this celebrity pastor, or that star-spangled congregation, or the big new building that’s being built. I have heard “so-and-so church has their sanctuary paid off!” thrown around as a major compliment more times than I need to. I used to watch a lot of different televised church services while I was away at school, but I had to stop, because I just couldn’t take the greed anymore. I’m not sure if this is a new thing or if I’m just now noticing it, but the message seems to be that blessings=riches and “God’s fruits” all come in the form of monetary and material gain. I’ve sat in church and heard pastors say that you are not a Christian if you don’t tithe. I’ve listened to more than one popular, TV-show-having preacher make the statement that they or someone close to them “never received a blessing” until they “sowed a seed” that they could barely afford to spend to someone’s ministry. You’re a pastor and you’re telling me that your “blessings” have all come in the form of cars, houses, and enough money to finance a new rec center? Are you serious? And here I thought the Bible said that it’s easier to fit a camel through a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven. Oh, but wait: it’s okay to be filthy rich as long as it’s for the ministry. Pardon me.

Yes, it takes funding to build buildings, do outreach, and get the message across to as many people as possible. But the church today has crossed the line into downright materialism. I’m tired of hearing these so-called religious leaders ranting about how they’ve been “blessed” with the millions to afford personal chefs and send their children to private school. I suppose the CEOs who get rich off divesting people of their pensions and pimps who profit from exploiting children are the holiest people of all; they sure are some of the richest. T.D. Jakes must be making at least a mil yearly… he should take a leap of faith and “sow” $999 thousand to see how far he gets, instead of investing in any more of those shiny suits.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m only seeing the face of Christianity that’s in the newspapers, television, magazines, and internet every day, and this is an innaccurate depiction. Maybe my little shiny-suit-free church isn’t one in a million, and these temples of plenty are in the minority.

In that case, they need to stop making us po’ folk look bad.