“What’s Done in the Dark” Blog Series: Shedding Light on the Hypocrisies of the Black Church and the Gospel Music Biz

Posted May 21, 2012 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

A series of blog commentary focuses on the down-low counterculture and lowdown hypocrisies of the African American church and the Gospel music industry

Posted below are excerpts taken from a commentary blog series by J Matthew Cobb entitled "What’s Done In the Dark: Understanding the Down-Low Counterculture and Lowdown Hypocrisies of the Black Church and the Gospel Music Industry." The views expressed in this and future posts in this series are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the parent company HiFi Magazine. Reprint with permission.


If Loving You Is Wrong…

When President Obama decided it was finally time to cast his full support towards the idea of legalizing gay marriage during a Robin Roberts-ABC News interview aired on May 9, 2012, the leaders and followers of most African American churches responded as if their nation’s leader was legalizing marijuana. Erase that. Hell, most people, especially in most black communities I zoom through, would probably okay that. They responded as if Obama had just transcribed the death wish on their country with the handwriting on the wall – as if the United States of America was changing its name to United Stated of Sodom and Gomorrah. (According to a recent Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 58 percent of African Americans called same-sex marriage “unacceptable.”)

The rebuke was instantaneous. You could feel it all across social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook. This is coming from a race of people who overwhelmingly voted for Obama in 2009, with 95 percent casting their vote for who would become the first black president of the United States. But who would have imagined the bedrock of the Civil Rights movement, which birthed such life changers like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth and Rosa Parks, which preached equality and peace to all mankind, would hold up their conservative loins to not share a part of their legacy with their fellow gay brothers and sisters? Well, don’t mark it as a total surprise.

The black church and their surrounding counterparts – including those who serve in the chambers of the Gospel music industry – have been quite animated and vocal against any idea of attempting to normalizing homosexuality. To them, and to many hardcore conservatives and mainline Christians, homosexuality is a sin. Beyond that, homosexuality is an abomination, an unforgivable detest in the eye sight of God. It’s probably the only abomination that their Almighty doesn’t forgive, although they overlook many of the other abominations that are slightly forgiven under the provisionary actions of New Testament grace: Like consuming lobster, shrimp clams, octopus and squids (Leviticus 11:12), interaction with four-legged fowls (Leviticus 11:20), four-footed flying creepy crawlers (Leviticus 11:23), interaction with snakes and things with lots of legs (Leviticus 11:42), blemished sacrifices of sheep or goat (Deuteronomy 17:1), women who wear men’s clothing (Dt. 22:5), prostitutes and pricey dogs (Dt. 23:18), taking back an adulterous ex-wife (Dt. 24:1-4), the work of a craftsman (Dt. 27:15) and anything that people value with a high regard (Luke 16:5).

Seems like we all are stuck with a one-way ticket to hell after reading those footnotes, but for some strange reason those unforgivables bear no sting against Leviticus 18:22: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.”

To sum up the ethics of a conservative who opposes gay marriage: If God has instructed you to not have sexual activities with someone of the same sex, then it is unfit for those to be joined together, for better or worse, til’ death do them part. It’s probably the equivalent to my little personal wise saying: “if it’s wrong to become a glutton, then don’t go to a Golden Corral.”

Proverbs 6:16 gets a little feisty and bold in its description of God’s pet peeves:
“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: Haughty eyes (but it’s okay to crown Bishop Eddie Long a royal king), a lying tongue (but we approve of Eddie Long, Ted Haggard and Jim Baker), and hands that shed innocent blood (but we approve our sons and daughters to fight overseas in war), a heart that devises wicked schemes (but we now allow Ponzi schemers and “prosperity gospel” preachers to teach their convoluted trickery), feet that are quick to rush into evil (Facebook – hello!), a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

Now if Mr. King Solomon decided to pen that God himself only hates six things and have an extra one that he has an extra distaste for, then how did this wise writer forget to mention gay pride parades and episodes of Glee, casting votes for Adam Lambert, enjoying “Bennie and the Jets” on the stereo and shopping at JC Penny – and oh yeah, almost forgot – national presidents who approve of gay marriage?

Well apparently the wise writer wasn’t that good at arithmetic or today’s conservative movement wants to pick and choose who and what they want to abhor.

To most conservatives, gay marriage is a rite of passage to continue down a slippery slope of evil and to only escalate the pronouncement of an apocalyptic Doomsday. I would be writing all day if I began to post the day-by-day quotes of Republican torchbearers and pundits like Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Michele Bacchmann and CBN’s Pat Robertson. Still I will post a few, just for your entertainment:

“We need to have profound compassion for the people who are dealing with the very issue of sexual dysfunction in their life and sexual identity disorders. This is a very real issue…It’s a very sad life. It’s part of Satan…It leads to the personal enslavement of individuals. Because if you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage…and that’s why this is so dangerous.” – Michelle Bachmann, excerpts from a lecture given at the National Education Leadership Conference, 2004

“If the world accepts homosexuality as its norm and if it moves the entire world in that regard, the whole world is then going to be sitting like Sodom and Gomorrah before a holy God.”– Pat Robertson, CBN and The 700 Club television host

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual [gay] sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to do anything…In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be.” – Rick Santorum, in a 2002 fund-raising letter

But you know what, those are white persons that are clearly talking to the congregations of white people. How about posting a few of the anti-gay, homophobic rants that spew out of the pulpits of the black church? Keep on reading this and you’re bound to run across a few proverbial passages from such iconic gospel champions like:
Donnie McClurkin, gospel music giant
Mary Mary, Grammy-award winning gospel music duo
Bishop Timothy Clarke, pastor of Columbus, Ohio’s First Church of God
Rev. Jamal Harrison Bryant, pastor of Empowerment Temple AME Church
Susie Owens, the famed co-pastor of Washington, D.C.’s Mount Calvary Holy Church
Embattled megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long
Pastor Rudolph McKissick, pastor of Bethel Baptist in Jacksonville, Florida
Prophet Brian Carn, a pay-for-play evangelist who can be seen daily on BET, TBN and other religious networks

Oh, just keep reading.

For the sake of time, I’ll just throw in one quote: A recent one coming from Jamal Bryant, one of the more vocal opponents on Obama’s goodwill gesture to gays. This is what he had to tell Rahiel Tefamariam of The Washington Post on May 18.

“This is a season where doctrine has had a collision with opinion and the carnage has yet to be calculated. I suspect same sex marriage will signal a civil war amongst congregations over societal influence and scriptural allegiance.”

I love music and I’ll never forfeit my occupation and guilty pleasure, in which I deeply love and adore like an abomination. For nobody. I know it looks like I’m casting my lot on modern-day politics and petty religious issues on what appears to be a leftist rant. But I decided to write about the deep sores of unfair abuse towards the LGBTQ community that continues to reign in the black church experience, and to also open up about the many hypocrisies that prevail within in. It’s the least that I could do, since I used to be a component of those same temples of worship. Like Obama, I too am evolving.

I actually was majoring in theology while in college, hoping to someday join the ranks of my former pastor, who has since fallen from the grace of his own league of supporters. And the last church I called home currently sounds like he’s been rehearsing on Pat Robertson sound bytes when he voices his angst at gays. For ten years, I followed every move in the gospel music industry – its ups and downs, its high notes and its low groans – as a freelance writer at a popular gospel e-zine. I felt that it was due time to add a voice to those ten-plus years of knowledge I gained and to finally put it to some good use.

The war on gays may be an open debacle in the peripheral view of black Christians, but it’s what you don’t see in the public that matters the most. If you only knew what actually goes on behind closed doors.


In a recent public announcement, the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People released their endorsement of same-sex marriage as being a civil right. “Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law,” NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous said in a statement released Saturday. “The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people. The well-funded right-wing organizations who are attempting to split our communities are no friend to civil rights, and they will not succeed.”

Jealous still failed to deal with the oppression of hypocrisy within his own community. Nevertheless, the NAACP’s hand of blessing for the fairness and quality to all is still one step forward for the black community. It’s now time to bring the other foot with it.

May 20, 2012

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine

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