Black History Can’t Be Told Without the Bible

By Nicole Martin -February 18, 2021

black Americans

(RNS) — Black Americans are leading the charge when it comes to religious practice in America. According to Pew Research, nearly 8 in 10 African Americans (79% percent) identify as Christian — more than any other ethnicity.

It is worth noting that this legacy of faith was forged under slavery and in the years of oppression that ensued, even as their oppressors attempted to keep slaves from engaging with God’s Word.

The Slave Bible, for example, widely distributed to reinforce slavery, omitted significant passages about freedom. Many Christian organizations in the 1800s were ambivalent at best about encouraging enslaved Blacks to read the Bible and in some cases even refused to distribute it to slaves.

Yet despite these challenges Black Americans persisted in faith and hewed closely to the Bible as a means of survival. It has been a source of healing, hope and refuge from danger. Its stories were passed on through songs and sermons so that they infiltrated their common language, even among those who could not read. During the Civil War, freed slaves joined the Union Army and found jobs or places to settle in the North, and found new freedom to read the full Bible and express their faith in powerful ways.

Demand for the Bible became so strong that on May 20, 1864, Capt. Charles B. Wilder, superintendent at Fort Monroe, the largest of the camps for former slaves, asked the American Bible Society to provide 1,000 Bibles and 2,000 New Testaments for the refugees. Earlier in the war, ABS had faced criticism for failing to require its Southern affiliates to distribute Bibles to freed slaves. In this case, however, it responded to Wilder’s request by providing 18,424 volumes of Scriptures to the freed slaves at Fort Monroe.

“The eagerness of these poor people to receive and to learn the Scriptures is most affecting,” said the Society’s 1865 annual report. “They have kissed the Bibles and Testaments when given them, wept over them, carried them upon their persons, and rejoiced in them with joy unspeakable.”

The Bible was also a source of hope and driving force for American civil rights leaders, from Bishop Richard Allen to Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman to Sojourner Truth, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to Congressman John Lewis.

These Black heroes of the faith, including my grandparents, knew that the Bible had to be at the center of life as free men and women in the United States. They were forging the path we all benefit from today.

Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s documentary series on PBS this week, “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song,” shares many of these stories of resilience through faith.

Consider Henry Dray, born and raised in slavery in Texas. He gained his freedom and became an educator for freed people, making it his mission to get the Bible into the hands of former slaves.

In 1876 Dray wrote to American Bible Society and other ministries for copies. Christian leaders like Dray — and later John Percy Wragg, who established American Bible Society’s Agency Among the Colored People of the South, and the Rev. William F. Bard — spurred a movement among African Americans to establish Bible societies of their own throughout the South to meet growing demand.

In 1911, S.E. Harris became the first Black female colporteur, selling Bibles door to door. She helped establish Bible distribution in Oklahoma, including in the historic Greenwood District of North Tulsa (also known as Black Wall Street).

By 1920, 16 more Bible salespeople traveled the South and among them put nearly 625,000 holy books in the hands of Black residents of Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, Florida and Oklahoma. As Blacks moved north in search of more economic opportunity, Black Bible distribution expanded as well.

African Americans today are “the most Bible engaged in the U.S.,” according to our American Bible Society 2018 State of the Bible study. Black Christians generally demonstrate a higher regard for and deeper devotion to Scripture than other demographic groups in America:  A 2017 Barna study  showed that many more Black Americans own a Bible — 93% versus 82% of Americans overall — and Blacks are more than twice as likely to say Bible reading is crucial to their daily routine.

The deep faith and spiritual traditions of African Americans, as well as Christians of all backgrounds, need to be highlighted and taught in our families and houses of worship. The teachings of the Bible sustained many of our forebears through the trauma of slavery and through segregation and other injustices throughout the generations. The journeys of the leaders before us tell a compelling story of conviction and commitment to unity and justice for all, with God’s Word as their guide.


Kanye West Gospel Album Inspires Group to Give Away 1,000 Bibles to His Fans

INDIO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 21: Kanye West performs Sunday Service during the 2019 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 21, 2019 in Indio, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Coachella)

Nov 2, 2019 Ben Kew

Some fans of rap megastar Kanye West are showing an increased interest in the Holy Bible following his conversion to Christianity and his hit gospel-rap album Jesus is KingAnd now one organization is handing out hundreds free Bibles to those who wish to learn more.

Google searches for “Jesus” and the query, “What do Christians believe?” spiked significantly following the release of West’s album last week, which includes a plethora of biblical references.

Amid renewed interest, the American Bible Society (ABS) plans to use the opportunity to hand out free Bibles to those interested in Christianity. The organization has launched an initiative called “Bibles for Kanye Fans,” which will see them hand out up to 1,000 copies of the Good News Translation for free.

“When we saw an influential cultural figure like Kanye inspiring young people to curiously seek out answers to their faith questions, we saw that as an opportunity to do what we do best as an organization: to provide God’s word and point people to it as a source to their questions about faith,” Dr. John Farquhar Plake, the organizations’s director of ministry intelligence, told Fox News.

“Kanye’s album just points to this cultural curiosity and we’re happy to stand in the gap and say if you’re curious about the Bible, we want to provide one to you,” he continued.

The Grammy-winning rapper recently opened up about a Born Again Christian, defending religious conservative values while critiquing those pushing political correctness and “cancel culture” as the same people who wish to destroy Christianity altogether.

“I’ve been canceled before. That was canceled culture. Who told you that my career would be over? The same people that are telling you that you can’t have a right to say who you will vote for,” Kanye West said. “Those people will be soon to take Jesus out of school. Those people will be soon to remove Jesus, period, from America, which is the Bible Belt. Those people will be so mad. Come on man.”

According to data from ABS’s annual “State of the Bible” survey, 61 percent of millennials and 58 percent of Gen Zers are interested in the Bible and around 50 percent non-churchgoers people are curious to find out more about its content.

Those interested in receiving a Bible free of charge courtesy of the American Bible Society can do so by filling out this form

It’s very simple: Without God, there is no morality

Bill Federer remembers wisdom, writings from country’s 1st chief justice

 

John Jay

John Jay

The first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, being appointed by George Washington, was also President of the American Bible Society. Who was he? John Jay, who died May 17, 1829.

As president of the Continental Congress, John Jay approved the “Circular Letter from the Congress of the United States of America to their Constituents,” Sept. 13, 1779: “Friends and Fellow Citizens. … In governments raised on the generous principles of equal liberty … the rulers of the state are the servants of the people, and not the masters of those from whom they derive authority. … The ungrateful despotism and inordinate lust of domination, which marked the unnatural designs of the British king and his venal parliament, to enslave the people of America, reduced you to the necessity of either asserting your rights by arms, or ingloriously passing under the yoke. … Remember we are contending against a kingdom crumbling into pieces; a nation without public virtue … betrayed by their own representatives; against a Prince governed by his passions; … against a government by the most impious violations of the rights of religion, justice, humanity and mankind, courting the vengeance of Heaven and revolting from the protection of Providence. … And can there be any reason to apprehend that the Divine Disposer of human events, after having separated us from the house of bondage, and led us safe through a sea of blood, towards the land of liberty and promise will leave the work of our political redemption unfinished … or suffer us to be carried back in chains to that country of oppression from whose tyranny He hath mercifully delivered us with a outstretched arm?”

As chief justice of the state of New York, John Jay charged the grand jury of Ulster County, Sept. 8, 1777: “The infatuated sovereign of Britain, forgetful that kings were the servants, not the proprietors, and ought to be the fathers, not the incendiaries of their people. … What … can appear more unworthy of credit than … a prince should arise who, by the influence of corruption alone … to reduce three million of his most loyal and affectionate subjects to absolute slavery … binding them in all cases whatever, not even excepting cases of conscience and religion? … Will it not appear extraordinary that thirteen colonies … without funds … without disciplined troops, in the face of their enemies, unanimously determine to be free, and, undaunted by the power of Britain, refer their cause to the justice of the Almighty. …”

John Jay noted in 1777: “This glorious revolution … is distinguished by so many marks of the Divine favor and interposition … and I may say miraculous, that when future ages shall read its history they will be tempted to consider a great part of it as fabulous. … The many remarkable … events by which our wants have been supplied and our enemies repelled … are such strong and striking proofs of the interposition of Heaven, that our having been hitherto delivered from the threatened bondage of Britain ought, like the emancipation of the Jews from Egyptian servitude, to be forever ascribed to its true cause … and kindle in them a flame of gratitude and piety which may consume all remains of vice and irreligion. Blessed be God! The time will now never arrive when the prince of a country in another quarter of the globe will command your obedience, and hold you in vassalage. … Nor will you in future be subject to the imperious sway of rulers instructed to sacrifice your happiness whenever it might be inconsistent with the ambitious views of their royal master.”

John Jay signed the Treaty of Paris with Franklin and Adams which ended the Revolutionary War. The treaty began: “In the name of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity.”

Jay, together with Madison and Hamilton, helped ratify the Constitution by writing the Federalist Papers. John Jay wrote in 1777: “The Americans are the first people whom Heaven has favored with an opportunity of … choosing the forms of government under which they should live. All other constitutions have derived their existence from violence or accidental circumstances. … Your lives, your liberties, your property, will be at the disposal only of your Creator and yourselves. You will know no power but such as you will create; no authority unless derived from your grant; no laws but such as acquire all their obligation from your consent. … Security is also given to the rights of conscience and private judgment. They are by nature subject to no control but that of the Deity … Every man is permitted to consider, to adore, and to worship his Creator in the manner most agreeable to his conscience. …”

John Jay wrote in Chisholm v. Georgia, 1793: “The people are the sovereign of this country.”

With the support of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, he negotiated the Jay Treaty which resulted in 10 years of peaceful trade with Britain while France was going through a bloody revolution.

When America’s currency was losing value, giving rise to the idiom “not worth a Continental,” John Jay, as president of the Continental Congress, wrote Sept. 13, 1779: “Depreciation of the currency has … swelled the prices of every necessary article. … Depreciation is to be removed only by lessening the quantity of money in circulation. … A distrust … by the mass of the people … in the ability … of the United States to redeem their bills, is the cause of it. … A bankrupt faithless republic would … appear among reputable nations like a common prostitute among chaste and respectable matrons. … It has been already observed, that in order to prevent the further natural depreciation of our bills, we have resolved to stop the press.”

John Jay stated in 1777: “The constitution, however, has wisely declared, that the ‘liberty of conscience thereby granted shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness.’ … The convention by whom that constitution was formed were of opinion that the gospel of Christ, like the ark of God, would not fall, though unsupported by the arm of flesh. … But let it be remembered that whatever marks of wisdom … may be in your constitution, yet like the … forms of our first parents before their Maker breathed into them the breath of life, it is yet to be animated. … From the people it must receive its spirit. … Vice, ignorance, and want of vigilance will be the only enemies able to destroy it … Every member of the State ought diligently to read and to study the constitution. … By knowing their rights, they will sooner perceive when they are violated, and be the better prepared to defend. … Hence it becomes the common duty … to unite in repressing the licentious … and thereby diffusing the blessings of peace.”

On April 15, 1818, John Jay wrote to his Quaker friend, John Murray: “Natural laws and morality are given by the Sovereign of the Universe to all mankind. … It is true that the law was given to Moses, not however in his individual or private capacity, but as the agent or instrument, and by the authority of the Almighty. The law demanded exact obedience, and proclaimed: ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.’ The law … by requiring perfect obedience, under a penalty so inevitable and dreadful, operated as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ for mercy. Legal punishments are adjusted and inflicted by the law and magistrate, and not by unauthorized individuals. These and all other positive laws or ordinances established by Divine direction, must of necessity be consistent with the moral law. It certainly was not the design of the law … to encourage a spirit of personal or private revenge. On the contrary, there are express injunctions in the law of Moses which inculcate a very different spirit.”

Writing to John Bristed, April 23, 1811, John Jay recounted: “I was at a large party, of which … several … spoke freely and contemptuously of religion. … An atheist very abruptly remarked that there was no God, and he hoped the time would come when there would be no religion in the world. I very concisely remarked that if there was no God there could be no moral obligations, and I did not see how society could subsist without them.”

John Jay told the New York Convention, Dec. 23, 1776: “Let a general reformation of manners take place … united in preparing for a vigorous defense of your country. … When you have done all things, then rely upon the good Providence of Almighty God for success, in full confidence that without his blessings, all our efforts will inevitably fail. … The Holy Gospels are yet to be preached to these western regions, and we have the highest reason to believe that the Almighty will not suffer slavery and the gospel to go hand in hand. It cannot, it will not be.”

On April 15, 1794, John Jay wrote to his wife, Sally, from England: “If it should please God to make me an instrument to the continuation of peace, and in preventing the effusion of blood and other evils and miseries incident to war, we shall both have reason to rejoice. … Let us repose unlimited trust in our Maker; it is our business to adore and to obey.”

On May 28, 1802, John Jay wrote to his children after his wife’s death: “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? … Behold I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. … Death is swallowed up in victory. (I Corinthians 15)”

John Jay wrote to John Murray, a representative in the Pennsylvania House, Oct. 12, 1816: “Real Christians will abstain from violating the rights of others, and therefore will not provoke war. Almost all nations have peace or war at the will and pleasure of rulers whom they do not elect, and who are not always wise or virtuous. Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.”

On Jan. 1, 1813, John Jay penned a letter to Jedediah Morse: “Whether our Religion permits Christians to vote for infidel rulers is a question which merits more consideration than it seems yet to have generally received, either from the clergy or the laity. It appears to me that what the prophet said to Jehoshaphat about his attachments to Ahab (‘Shouldest thou help the ungodly and love them that hate the Lord?’ 2 Chron. 19:2) affords a salutary lesson. … Public measures may not be a proper subject for the pulpit, yet, in my opinion, it is the right and duty of our pastors to press the observance of all moral and religious duties.”

John Jay, at the age of 14, was admitted to King’s College in New York (Columbia University), which had as a requirement translating the first 10 chapters of the Gospel of John from Greek into Latin.

The American Bible Society was founded in 1816, with John Jay as the first vice president. In 1821, though in poor health, John Jay accepted the position as the president of the American Bible Society. He wrote: “They who regard these Societies as deriving their origin and success from the author and Giver of the Gospel, cannot forbear concluding it to be the duty of Christians, to promote the purposes for which they have been established; and that is particularly incumbent on their officers to be diligent in the business committed to them.”

John Jay is attributed with the statement: “No human society has ever been able to maintain both order and freedom, both cohesiveness and liberty apart from the moral precepts of the Christian Religion. Should our Republic ever forget this fundamental precept of governance, we will then, be surely doomed.”

On May 13, 1824, John Jay addressed the American Bible Society: “By conveying the Bible to people thus circumstanced, we certainly do them a most interesting kindness. We thereby enable them to learn that man was originally created and placed in a state of happiness, but, becoming disobedient, was subjected to the degradation and evils which he and his posterity have since experienced. The Bible will also inform them that our gracious Creator has provided for us a Redeemer, in whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; that this Redeemer has made atonement ‘for the sins of the whole world,’ and thereby reconciling the Divine justice with the Divine mercy has opened a way for our redemption and salvation; and that these inestimable benefits are of the free gift and grace of God, not of our deserving, nor in our power to deserve.”

John Jay stated: “In forming and settling my belief relative to the doctrines of Christianity, I adopted no articles from creeds but such only as, on careful examination, I found to be confirmed by the Bible. … At a party in Paris, once, the question fell on religious matters. In the course of it, one of them asked me if I believed in Christ? I answered that I did, and that I thanked God that I did.”

John Jay wrote: “God is great, and therefore He will be sought: He is good, and therefore He will be found. If in the day of sorrow we own God’s presence in the cloud, we shall find Him also in the pillar of fire, brightening and cheering our way as the night comes on. In all His dispensations God is at work for our good: in prosperity, He tries our gratitude; in mediocrity, our contentment; in misfortune, our submission; in darkness, our faith; under temptation, our steadfastness, and at all times, our obedience and trust in Him. God governs the world, and we have only to do our duty wisely, and leave the issue to Him.”

John Jay was sent a letter from the Corporation of the City of New York, asking him to join with them in the celebration of America’s 50th anniversary. John Jay, at 82 years of age, replied on June 29, 1826: “Earnest hope that the peace, happiness, and prosperity enjoyed by our beloved country may induce those who direct her national counsels to recommend a general and public return of praise to Him from whose goodness these blessings descend. … The most effectual means of securing the continuance of our civil and religious liberties is, always to remember with reverence and gratitude the Source from which they flow.”

In his last will and testament, John Jay wrote: “Unto Him who is the Author and Giver of all good, I render sincere and humble thanks for His merciful and unmerited blessings, and especially for our redemption and salvation by his beloved Son. He has been pleased to bless me with excellent parents, with a virtuous wife, and with worthy children. His protection has accompanied me through many eventful years, faithfully employed in the service of my country; and his providence has not only conducted me to this tranquil situation, but also given me abundant reason to be contented and thankful. Blessed be His Holy Name. While my children lament my departure, let them recollect that in doing them good, I was only the agent of their Heavenly Father, and that He never withdraws His care and consolations from those who diligently seek Him.”

On May 17, 1829, John Jay was drawing near death after a life of serving his country. As recorded by his son, Judge William Jay, John Jay was asked if he had any words for his children, to which he responded: “They have the Book.”

Brought to you by AmericanMinute.com.

https://www.wnd.com/2019/05/its-very-simple-without-god-there-is-no-morality/