Candy-coated Poison: Rejecting Spoon-fed Religion
You learn a lot by feeding a child. They are creatures of habit with sensitive yet non-discriminatory palates. Yesterday’s breakfast is easily today’s breakfast . . . and lunch . . . and dinner—if the temperature is right. A young child has little control over what they are fed. Even more true is that a starving child will eat almost anything regardless of who holds the spoon. In my hometown, in my workplace, and especially in my church, I see many children—children with cars, mortgages, student loans, and even children of their own.
I remember being in middle school in southwest Texas and having a white boy lecture me (an African-born black girl), convinced that then-Senator Barack Obama was definitely the antichrist. He swore up and down and even placed his hand on his heart and stated that he ‘was a firm believer in the Bible.’ How could a supposed believer hold such contempt for God’s creation? It didn’t add up then, but it does now. He was being fed—he didn’t hold the spoon–but whoever was feeding him served a candy-coated lie that his too-young-to-discriminate palate found acceptable, so he thought he would share his lunch with me. I didn’t bite—that time.
Fast forward a few years. As I entered college, I was thirsty for God’s authenticity but lazy in my pursuit of him. I had not yet, as Paul wrote, ‘put away childish things.’ I was still being fed. I joined a ministry at my prestigious, highly ranked southern PWI and quickly found a family. Sure, they didn’t listen to my kind of music or move during praise and worship, but we had Christ in common, so what else mattered? For the Body of Christ, I could surely endure more Hillsong United and John Mark McMillan! The food on the spoon tasted alright for a while—albeit unseasoned, but it was alright. Until suddenly. . . it wasn’t.
On June 17th, 2015, nine people from Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina were murdered by a white supremacist. Surely, I thought, the contents of the spoon would change. After all, the Body of Christ had been directly affected by the racism that is alive and well in our country. Nothing had tasted different after Mike Brown or Eric Garner were killed, but this time had to be different because these people were in church. The leadership of my spiritual family had to say something…didn’t they?
But they didn’t.
They were pin-drop silent regarding the slaughter, save for the periodic Facebook post calling for peace in the wake of protests. The reaction of those who were affected by what happened, it seems, mattered more than its trigger. Their silence turned my stomach.
The food that once kept me satisfied until the next Sunday service or group no longer seemed appetizing. It was ugly, lukewarm, and bland. Both undercooked and overdone all at the same time. A half-baked gospel. No gospel at all.
I had enough. I pushed away the spoon.
My God isn’t blind, and he definitely isn’t colorblind.
If I’ve learned anything from these past four years, it’s that the Church is not the hub of critical thinking that I once thought. Many white evangelicals have proven themselves to be spiritual children, buying into the poisonous falsehood that the God of Abraham has an exclusive relationship with white America.
My fellow Black Christians, we are not above being misled. We are not immune to the deception that was led white evangelicals to Christian Nationalism.
We quote Matthew 4:4 without realizing that the bread and words by which we live cannot be rationed to us by our pastors or political leaders. We need to feed ourselves. We need to read the Word for ourselves. Critical thinking and theology are not just for our siblings in seminary and the academy. There is no monopoly on the truth.
Be like a child, as the Bible instructs, without being childlike in your reasoning. Question what is on the spoon that inches towards you. Question who holds the spoon. Question it all, trusting that the God you serve is more than capable of handling questioning from his creation.
If you find yourself on the verge of swallowing even a word that contradicts the truth within the Word, spit it out. Spit it out—and push away the spoon. For it is better to starve than to have a belly full of candy-coated poison.