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

By Arthur Huff Fauset | Go to book overview

VI
FATHER DIVINE PEACE MISSION MOVEMENT

TESTIMONY OF SING HAPPY1

SING HAPPY is a tall, dark-brown-skinned, well-preserved Negro of about seventy years of age, with short gray hair and good teeth. He has a very strong baritone voice which is well known among the followers of Father Divine who join in the singing at Rockland Palace. One day many years ago Sing Happy heard Father call out to him in his apartment, “Happy!” He had been busy doing some small chore when suddenly he heard the voice call out to him. For a moment he could not imagine what or who it was. He rushed to the stairway to see, but there was no one. Then it dawned on him—Father! Some of his brothers assured him also it was Father. Several years ago, when it became necessary for him to register in order to vote, he realized he would have to have two names. Father had called him Happy, his spiritual name, because that denoted his type. But what should be his first name? He was in a quandary. Then it came to him. He was always singing. Of course! Sing Happy! And that is how he got his name. Sing Happy had traveled all around on the railroad, especially in New York, Chicago, and Cincinnati.

He had been sick nearly all his life. To begin with, his mother, who had six children, was a very sick woman when she bore the last three, of which he was one. They were weakly and had scrofula. At nine years of age he became badly afflicted with rheumatism. At the age of sixteen he contracted gonorrhea from a prostitute in his first sexual experience, and from then on this and syphilis kept him in constant ill health and misery, with frequent operations for stricture and stomach ulcers, and great difficulty in urination and defecation. In one operation a hemorrhage occurred, and in another some of the intestinal tract was removed. His second wife secretly raised an insurance policy on him, so sure was she that he would die. But it was she who died in 1918 and he has not married since, although up to the time he came to Father Divine he was always finding some woman to live with from time to time.

Meantime he had joined a number of churches, chiefly Baptist, but they did him no good, for several reasons: there was too much money collection with nothing in return, and too much wickedness by the

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

-52-

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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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