Black Gods of the Metropolis: Negro Religious Cults of the Urban North

By Arthur Huff Fauset | Go to book overview

IV
CHURCH OF GOD (BLACK JEWS)

TESTIMONY OF MRS. I.1

MRS. I. is an intelligent woman about thirty-five years of age, married and the mother of two children. She joined Prophet Cherry’s church about six years ago. She formerly was a member of a holiness church, but, according to her, their worship is a “tale,” just a fake. The business of speaking in tongues is a joke. All the whooping and yelling, dancing, falling out and the like is indecent. She joined Prophet Cherry’s church after her husband. She and her children observed the Passover all of last week. Every day they stayed in church from 9 A.M. to about 1 A.M. the following morning, and then went home to bed, after which they returned. Prophet is the source of all knowledge, a wonderful man. Pretty soon he is going to commence “sealing,” which is to say, putting the visible seal on the forehead and the invisible seal in the heart. A person who has been sealed can skip around as he pleases; he hasn’t got long to stay here and his fate is sealed. There are three heavens, one the earth on which we tread, the other in the air where the birds fly, the third far above the sun and stars. When we die the three parts of our body separate; the soul (blood) and the physical body go to hell. The spirit, which is the breath that comes out of the nostrils, goes back to God. Some day in the future there will be a resurrection. At the first resurrection the soul and the body will go up to heaven and meet the spirit. At the second resurrection (for the bad people) the spirit will meet its soul and body in hell. When there is a death of a friend or relative you must not visit anyone but the nearest friends of the deceased. You must not visit any outsiders. No one must look on the body except close relatives and perhaps some one appointed by the Prophet, else such people will be defiled by the dead. (Let the dead bury the dead.) The body must not be kept in the house, and it must not be sent to the temple. It must go immediately to the undertaking establishment.

Mrs. I. has been broken up ever since her baby girl died about three years ago, “from teething too hard.” Then it was that she really learned to love her church; everyone cherished her, comforted her, and did things for her. The church is grand to its members. It looks after them and keeps them in food, clothing, shelter, and medicine.

1 The language employed in this example closely follows that of the informant.

-31-

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Black Gods of the Metropolis: Negro Religious Cults of the Urban North
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Introduction xvii
  • Author’s Note to the Paperback Edition xxiii
  • I - Negro Religious Cults in the Urban North 1
  • II - Mt. Sinai Holy Church of America, Inc 13
  • III - United House of Prayer for All People 22
  • IV - Church of God (Black Jews) 31
  • V - Moorish Science Temple of America 41
  • VI - Father Divine Peace Mission Movement 52
  • VII - Comparative Study 68
  • VIII - Why the Cults Attract 76
  • IX - The Cult as a Functional Institution 87
  • X - The Negro and His Religion 96
  • XI - Summary of Findings 107
  • Appendix A - Selected Case Materials 111
  • Bibliography 123
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