After the Civil War, most of the four million African American slaves left Southern Baptist churches and other Southern Protestant churches. Who could blame them? The Southern Baptists and other Protestants still believed God endorsed slavery and white supremacy.
Northern freed blacks sent missionaries from their churches to set up missions in the South. These groups helped build black churches, of which the African Methodist Episcopal and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion claimed hundreds of thousands of members.
White denominations, such as Presbyterian, Congregational, and Episcopal, also sent missionaries to open schools for ex-slaves. The literacy levels were upgraded dramatically, but African Americans shied away from white churches and joined black ones instead.
Not only did Northern Black Denominations flourish in the South among the African Americans, but ex-slaves also formed their own churches. The National Baptist Convention had its beginnings in the South and today is the largest black organization in the United States with 7.5 million members.
Could the separation of churches into black ones and white ones have been prevented? Probably not in the South just after the Civil War. The four million slaves had suffered too much to trust white Christians. They needed time to heal.
What about the Northern black churches?
While most Northern white Christians thought slavery needed to be abolished, few agreed with the Quakers in their beliefs that blacks and whites were created equal by God. These underlying racist attitudes prevailed in white Christianity in the Northern states from the late 1600′s. It was the main reason blacks started their own churches.
Let’s suppose, okay?
What if the example by the Quakers had been the norm for white Northern Christians? If so, then, Northern blacks and whites would have worshiped and fellowshipped together for decades. They would have had unity and the bond of the Holy Spirit to not only demonstrate God’s love to ex-slaves, but also to the Southern Baptists and other Protestants in the South after the Civil War.
You see, the Southern Baptists were deceived by their more than two hundred years of bad teachings and cultural acceptance of slavery. Yet Northern white Christians did not have these excuses and it was their lack of love which has helped to cause much of the continuing racial problems in the Body of Christ today.
Let’s now look at the spiritual warfare side of today’s racial problems.
(Continued in Part 23)