Frederick Douglass was Born into slavery, escaped his oppressors and became a champion of the abolitionist movement.
As a lay preacher in the AME Zion church, an author, and a public lecturer, he used his communication skills to criticize the silence of much of Christianity regarding slavery.
He wrote, “The slave auctioneer’s bell and the church-going bell chime in with each other, and the bitter cries of the heart-broken slave are drowned in the religious shouts of his pious master.”
He also wrote, “I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land.
Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.”
Religion that ignores racism is not the gospel.
Religion that ignores misogyny is not the gospel.
Religion that embraces nationalism, claiming greatness without acknowledging and atoning for errors past and present, is not the gospel.
Religion that fuels power structures to harass and dehumanize LGBTQ people is not the gospel.
Religion that promises after life glory while ignoring the hells people face in this life is not the gospel.
Religion that is cruel and that worships cruelty is not the good news of all-inclusive, unconditional divine love.
Frederick Douglass told bold and uncomfortable truths, and offered hurting people empowerment and healing as a result.
My clarion call is simply for the Sunshine Cathedral to remain boldly committed to the gospel, the gospel that celebrates justice-love and that will not settle for anything less.