Monday, June 21, 2010

Author Claims Black Women Have The Church to Blame for Their Singlehood

Wow, this story definitely caught my attention. From Euroweb:

"*Dating expert, advice columnist and author Deborrah Cooper blasts traditional Black churches and charges that they are the root cause for the high numbers of single Black women in the U.S.

With all the media coverage (CNN, Nightline, NY Times, ABC) of the “plight” of the single black woman, and the blaming of Black women for being single, this author felt it past time to examine other reasons which could be important contributors to this sad statistic:

Black women have an inordinate amount of faith in both Black men and Black churches. My position is that such blind and unwavering faith in either is misplaced.

It is my belief that the Black church, structured around traditional gender roles which makes women submissive to and inferior to men, greatly limits females.

Single Black women sitting in church every Sunday are being subtly brainwashed, soothed and placated into waiting without demand for what they want to magically come to them. Who is doing this to Black women? The male standing at the front of the Church in the role of spiritual leader, that’s who!

This is the true reason that there are so many single, never married Black women in the United States – Black churches. Black women should abandon Black churches and focus more on themselves, their needs and those of their children than those of Black men or a religion which Black men use to castigate and control an entire race of women.

Single Black Females in Church

Black females have long been considered the backbone of the Black community and the cornerstone of their families and churches. But what is the real price Black women have paid to wear this crown of fool’s gold?

An examination of any congregation of the average Black church shows that single Black females fill the pews. Results of a recent study “African Americans and Religion” by the PEW Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life found that “African Americans are markedly more religious on a variety of measures than the U.S. population as a whole.”

Almost 90% of Black Americans express “absolutely certain belief in God” compared to just over 70% of the total U.S. population. Two other important statistics gleaned from this survey: (1) 80% of Black Americans report that religion is “very important” in their lives as compared to 57% of the general U.S. population; and (2) 55% of Black Americans report that they “interpret scripture literally” as compared to 32% of the general U.S. population.

The PEW study also reported that “Men are significantly more likely than women to claim no religious affiliation. Nearly one-in-five men say they have no formal religious affiliation, compared with roughly 13% of women.”

The survey shows a distinct correlation between religion and social attitudes amongst African Americans. “African Americans who are more religiously observant (as defined by frequency of worship service attendance and the importance of religion in their lives), are more likely to oppose abortion and homosexuality, and more likely to report higher levels of conservative ideology.”

What Do The PEW Study Results Mean For Single Black Women?

They mean that:

  • Following the tenets of organized religion is not going to get you anywhere because men are generally not religious.
  • Going to church is not getting you the husband you seek.
  • Going to church is not making you more attractive and interesting to men.
  • Going to church is not where you are going to find eligible bachelors to date.
  • Going to church is not going to teach you to be fiscally responsible, investment savvy, or empower you to achieve greatness as a woman.
  • Going to church is not going to broaden your horizons, make you more tolerant and accepting of all God’s children, nor is it going to encourage you to be free of the chains of patriarchy and oppression of your feminine energy.

Going to church makes you a sheep, blindly following the mandates of a small group of men you have placed in your life in a position of power. Going to church makes you malleable and predictable, and narrows your thinking and thus limits your options.

Going to church for single Black women is a waste of time."

Waste of time? Dang! Well, I guess if women are only going to church to "get them a husband," uh, yeah, they are going to be sorely disappointed. It doesn't take statisticians and research analysts to see that there are far more women than men in the average church. But what does that mean, single gals should just hit up the clubs on Saturday nights and sleep in on Sunday mornings to get a ring? LOL! Yeah, because there are plenty of quality men at the club...

As for the church not teaching women to be more fiscally responsible, I think that's a dumb statement to begin with. I'd go to a financial planner for my finances- not my pastor. The church has been many things in the Black community historically, but times are a-changing, so I wouldn't necessarily connect the two. At many "Word of Faith" churches, there are unscrupulous ministers preaching a false gospel about getting rich, but those are who I label "Pulpit Pimps". While there is a connection, it's unfair to make it a reason to abandon church altogether. Simply leave THAT church. No one should be going to a church that is not Biblically sound anyway.

As for that last point, I get it. Just say "Most churches will tell you fornication, adultery and homosexuality are sins and will try to keep you chained to the kitchen, popping out babies and dressed like Harriet Tubman while remaining uneducated and ignorant." Oh brother. Look, considering there are a high number of churches that run the gamut from very conservative to very liberal, that statement is not only untrue but just stupid. It also ignores the fact many churches not only allow women to lead but ordain them as well (my grandmother has been the head pastor of a church for going on fifteen years now). Even at some of the most conservative churches, women are still found teaching Sunday school, playing instruments, singing and leading in and on choirs or involved in youth ministries. Since the Black church is not a monolith, making that point is unfair and misleading.

So if this author thinks the Black church is to blame and the Good Book ain't so great, where should single women turn? To her book, of course! CHA-CHING! *ROLLSEYES*

I didn't meet my husband in church, but at work. In fact, most of my married friends didn't meet their spouses in the Lord's house, either. But going to worship isn't supposed to be a Singles mixer. We're there to sing praises, learn to be better brothers and sisters (and that goes for the Sistas, too) in Christ, to grow closer to our Lord and each other.

As a PK (Preacher's Kid), I should probably be so traumatized that I shouldn't have it in me to do this, but I'm going to go ahead and write some positives that the Black church has done for the community. I guess most people figure as a preacher's kid, I should probably be off shooting icing from a bathing suit top in a video like Katy Perry, but eh, we're all different. So here goes:

  • The church has provided a place of welcoming and extended family for Blacks who were separated from their blood from slavery forward.
  • It has been a place of hope when this world offered little. Instead of labeling it as pie-in-the-sky mentality, believing in a Supreme Being who created all in His Image, no matter their shade, gave strength to a community that was told they were not even fully human.
  • The Abolitionist movement was mostly supported by, yes, that's right, Believers who recognized the evil of slavery.
  • For many poor children, their education came from their Sundays in church. My grandmother, who had to drop out of school at age 8 during the Great Depression, improved her reading and writing skills by going to church and taking notes. She improved her ability to speak when she would share in Bible study or testify.
  • Many families who didn't have a husband or father, for whatever reason, have been able to turn to the church for prayer, financial assistance, food and even a place to sleep.
  • Deep in the South (and all over), it was ministers and Church leaders who fought for Civil Rights, organizing sit-in's, marches and voter registration drives (uh, MLK, Jr., anyone?).
  • The Church has promoted stronger families, marriage, and children receiving an education. Considering nearly 80% of Black children are born out of wedlock in this country, and many of those children are brought up in low-income homes in the poorest school districts, I'd say an organization that supports and encourages a solid family is a very good thing.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. It's pretty sad that the media has come up with yet another reason why the "poor" Black women can't get or keep a man. It's her attitude, her hair, her weight, the deviance or mis-education of the Black man, gays, jail, money, White women, Latinas and now her church. How about the media do us all a favor and stop sensationalizing her "plight". I think it's about high time they recognized our fight. The power, a gift from God, to raise our children, work hard and to live with hope that tomorrow will be better.

“I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. . . . I do not weep at the world -- I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.” ~Zora Neale Hurston


Don said...

Pretty good read, Alisha. Very good read, actually.

I honestly can understand points being made by both you and this particular church. As hard as it is to fathom, there are a good amount of woman who attend church in search of husbands. In that light, it needs it be said that the odds are not likely, yet makes more sense than marrying the male ho in the club.

It's probably best that I remove myself from any conversation concerning church and money. While my experiences at various church organizations haven't been unpleasant by any means, I have witnessed the pulpit pimps in action.

In the end, I respect many of the things you added on behalf of the churches throughout history. Some very poignant statements. Thanks for sharing.

Too funny @ I guess most people figure as a preacher's kid, I should probably be off shooting icing from a bathing suit top in a video like Katy Perry, but eh, we're all different.

The mother of my oldest daughter is an evangelist, so I always refer to my daughter as "preachers' kid." It kills her, to be stereotyped and all.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Yeah, we do get stereotyped. Love Common, but, um, what was up with this line from "Go"?: "Freaky like the daughter of a pastor/ said I was bait for her to master/ Little red corvette now she was faster...". Oh, we PK's always catch it! Do you know how many times I heard "The Freaks come out at night" sung at me in high school??? LOL!

Anyway, I understand the author's points, but she's thrown one (or three) too many items her stew and now it's just a mess. If you want to talk about patriarchy in the church, okay. Going to talk about feminism in a post-Christian society, alright. Black women and the disintegration of the African-American family, fine. But throwing all of them in together into a book packaged to sale like Steve Harvey's "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man" is WAY too much. It paints Black women as victims- betrayed by our men, our society and heck, now even our faith.

Well, I'm no victim. If someone decides to become an agnostic or atheist is their decision. Or simply stop attending a church. But to make an impediment to finding a man is just silly. And insult one of the best things the Black community has had in this country for centuries (even if it has admittedly been abused) is shameful.

Don said...

Good comments can never be left if the post isn't good and unless the blogger provides the reader with a sense of discussion. Since yours are passing grades, it leaves me no choice but to become an honor student as well. Hopefully it remains the case.

Did you get my "soul" joke on Twitter? You referenced Eric B & Rakim's song I Know You Got Soul on a tweet concerning your waves reappearing....

I remember Common's had been so long since I heard the song that now you have me wondering what in the world was up with Common when he wrote 'em? Erykah Badu, perhaps? Encouraging him not to allow anything to get in the way of art? Ha.

Hahahahaha @ the Whodini song. Soooo freaking funny.

But throwing all of them in together into a book packaged to sale like Steve Harvey's "Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man" is WAY too much.

Interesting that you mention this. While reading the post earlier I thought to myself that all the media coverage might have led her to promote the sensationalism of it all. When the majority of those in church are women, such mind poisoning can be considered dangerous and irresponsible.

Hey. Maybe she was a PK who awoke one morning thinking, "I will show them!" Hahahaha.

Alisha De Freitas said...

It took me a minute because THAT meeting... oh boy! Depressing (Columbine, West Virginia) and full of "Duh" information (if there's a fire, take the stairs). So when I read your comment, and my first thought was "soul soul soul? Is he mocking me? Like Soul Glo from 'Coming to America'? Like the jheri curl?"

Then I snapped out of it and laughed. I wonder how I sat through two semesters of British Literature when I can do an hour of mandatory training. I believe I'm growing dumber.

Common, oh Common... he he he... then he DID have that line in that Kid Cudi joint last year. I guess he's socially aware... and a freak.

You know, I believe the best way to make change in an organization is from within. Like I mentioned, my grandmother is a pastor. So is my stepmother. My female cousin is an evangelist. Not every church is domineering.

Your site is awesome. By the way, I'm going to be doing a giveaway, and as my most faithful reader, you win the prize. I'll DM you with details later.

Don said...

Oh noooooo. I could and would never ever mock you. It's the furthest thing from my mind actually. I am always trying to learn something when it comes to you.

Strictly concerning the rap song. The picture had nothing to do with it. Although when I think about it, there is nothing Soul Glo about you.

It was probably a combination of my not making myself clearer and the boring meeting.

Look at you being so up on the music @ Common & Kid Cudi. I don't know why but this has always impressed me. Hardly ever an extremely intelligent woman will also be hipped to chart music.

Yes I remember you once wrote for Vibe early in the game but still....Kid Cudi? Not too many people know anything about his music.

Thank you @ giveaway prize. Your site and writing is awesome. People are really really sleeping on the gift.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Aww, thanks :-) It's okay, my old high school friends, a couple of college friends and um... you, keep me writing, lol!

Kid Cudi is pretty awesome, actually. Have the CD (courtesy of my hubby) in the car. If you want to know who in rap I do actually like, if you're just curious... oh, wait, this can be another blog entry. I'll hold off on that, he he. But, I have a thing for socially conscious rappers (I swoon for Lupe Fiasco- really. And yes, I DID just use the word "swoon"). Wale's "Diary" is such sweet poetry. And... I'll just stop here, because that's not for a combox but an entry.

Don said...

You are not supposed to understand the lyrics of Kid Cudi and Wale and Lupe Fiasco. This isn't supposed to be happening. Hahahaha!

Lupe is probably the most incredible wordsmith, far as hip hop goes, that my ears have ever heard.

I love to read and write. I have awakened my inner nerd, something I wish that I had done during my freshman year in college. *sigh*

Alisha De Freitas said...

I'm not supposed to? Well, I believe they are the children of Langston and Nikki. There's a deep connection between poetry and rap... really, rap was spoken word over a beat...

It's never too late. Sometimes you need the wisdom of life to truly love, right? Like your "passion". I'm sure you'd agree that now it's love, not just lust- something the young often confuse.

Deborrah Cooper said...

Thanks for the review of my article. You got quite a few things wrong and jumped to a lot of conclusions - the top one being that I recommend that people seek answers from my book. That was YOUR assumption, not mentioned or suggested anywhere in the article.

Black churches are to blame because of the focus by ministers on keeping women there to find a man of Christ that they can be equally yoked. They focus on a man in the church. Well, there ain't no men in the church. You yourself and most women do not meet their men in church but in other locations WHERE MEN ARE. That is all I am saying, but at the same time I am blasting these men that run the churches and tell women this bullshit that every man not in church is a sinner and should not be considered as husband material.

Women need to stop giving men in churches all their money and keep it for themselves. They also need to stop giving men in church all their time and energy and keep that for themselves as well.

Thanks for the opportunity.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Ms. Cooper,

Hi, wow I'm even surprised you found my little blog, but happy you did. So let me address your comments with respect and in entirety. So here goes:

"You got quite a few things wrong and jumped to a lot of conclusions - the top one being that I recommend that people seek answers from my book. That was YOUR assumption, not mentioned or suggested anywhere in the article."

This is my blog, and if I were writing an actual review, for say "Essence" it would not be so full of my assumptions, bit an actual critique. But this isn't. It's a place I let out my thoughts on different issues. Now, my writing was based simply on that article which probably presented the book as a whole in such a way as to get the most readers. The headline was attention grabbing, the article a short synopsis. My entry was a response to that- and I don't claim that you have all the answers. I WOULD hope, though, you would give some answers since pointing a problem is fine, but providing a solution would be best.

"Black churches are to blame because of the focus by ministers on keeping women there to find a man of Christ that they can be equally yoked. They focus on a man in the church. Well, there ain't no men in the church. You yourself and most women do not meet their men in church but in other locations WHERE MEN ARE."

My problem with your statement here is your treating all Black churches as a monolith. Black churches aren't like the Roman Catholic Church, which in truth, has more diversity within it then is usually reported. WHICH Black church are you referring to? Southern Baptists? Pentecostal Assemblies of the World? African Methodist Episcopal Church? Or the countless non-affiliated non-denominational churches? It's unfair to label them all as one, when they are very different. And what about my point about female leaders and pastors? In every church I've ever belonged to, there were and are women leaders. Your point is valid about the lack of men. That's why so many churches are led (even in a de facto sense) by WOMEN!

Believe me, it disgusts me that so many women (and men) are giving away their money unwisely because of corrupt preachers. But let's be honest. For every Kenneth Copeland, you'll have a Gloria right by his side cashing in. For every Creflo, there's a Taffy. What about Paula White? Or Juanita Bynum? There is corruption, yes, but that's evident in both male and female ministers.

My real argument is the way you've mixed very real and legitimate problems and come up with one solution that doesn't fix the individual problems. If a woman truly believes in the Bible and Christ, to simply stop attending church isn't helping. She'll actually be wrong in not fellowshipping, which is a commandment in Ephesians. She'll also be cutting herself off from friendships with other sisters who understand and provide support. The true Church isn't a particular building or denomination, but the people, men and women, who trust Christ as their head. We do need each other, because life is terribly hard at times.

Ms.Cooper, I'd love to actually talk to you. I'm not crazy, lol. But I'd love to hear from you directly. Not just a combox statement. If you're interested, please email me at If not, please know I meant no disrespect to you, personally. I'm not into tearing down my fellow writers, and if I came off snarky, I apologize. God isn't finished with me yet!

Don said...

*eating popcorn*

Both of you are welcomed to some popcorn...I am glued to this comment section.

WHICH Black church are you referring to?

Good point.

Alisha De Freitas said...


I'll take some popcorn, but only if there's butter.

Deborrah Cooper said...

I am not referring to ONE church in particular. I am referring to thousands of them with men in charge that fit this description. If yours doesn't, then you are in good stead. BUt think of all the women for whom this DOES apply. I did a show on this article in great depth just last night. Find it on I discussed the criticisms and questions people had and answered them one by one. Might be helpful for those confused about what I really meant or what I was trying to say.

Alisha De Freitas said...


I'm going to check out your broadcast and encourage anyone who has questions to do so as well.

Just a suggestion: please preface your statements regarding the Black church with qualifiers such as "For those who feel oppressed in their churches...". I think what alarmed me and others was it sounded like all churches are bad or all Black women should leave the church or single women need not apply. The problem is the generalization. Since your advice isn't aimed at all Black churches or even all Black women, that changes things a great deal.

I just don't like stereotypes or blanket statements, like all Black women are [fill in the blank]. Outside of the fact that we're all Black and women, there is no way that blank could ever be filled by just one word. And so goes the Black church, churches in general, Christianity... life, period.

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

Don said...

*applause* @ how two intelligent sistas took the time to arrive at a sound understanding of each other's respective experiences.

And at no time during the process did the names LeBron James, Mel Gibson, Jesse Jackson enter into the conversation.


Alisha De Freitas said...

No Mel, Lebron or Jesse. I kept that on Twitter! LOL!

Deborrah said...

Guess what Alisha! The article was just the beginning. I've just finished a book which takes that discussion to the next level and addresses rampant sexual, emotional and financial abuses in the Black church against black women and children.

Due to be released in May 2012, THE BLACK CHURCH: WHERE WOMEN PRAY AND MEN PREY goes in on preachers that manipulate black women with scripture and guilt, mega churches, the prosperity gospel, and the non-scriptual mandates used by alleged men of God to destroy black women's spirits.

A link to the book trailer for THE BLACK CHURCH: WHERE WOMEN PRAY AND MEN PREY is attached.

Alisha De Freitas said...

Hey Deborrah, I just saw this over on The Old Black Church. Congrats on getting published again.

Are you up for an interview? I'd love to do it... as opposed to just back and forth in comboxes. Let me know!

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